Can I prepare souffles clear up to the point of baking before dinner and then quickly bake during or right after? Does it matter what flavor they are or what ingredients they have?
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Souffles are an exercise in bending the rules of physics: you are trying to trick some air into staying where you want it for a brief time. That's all you have, a few minutes, then they fall.
Bad news: Souffles cannot be baked ahead. Good news: You can make the base before dinner, then whip and fold in the egg whites right before baking. The egg whites - the key ingredient to the rise action - will collapse and weep if made ahead. Most recipes call for the egg whites to be folded in last, so make the recipe up until that point then refrigerate. Also, prepare your ramekins ahead and freeze for best results (usually buttered and coated with sugar for sweet souffles or cornmeal/bread crumbs for savory souffles). When ready to bake, whip whites, fold into base, spoon into ramekins, bake in preheated oven, and watch the magic happen. Tell your diners to be ready when you call - serve immediately.
Oh, and the flavor shouldn't matter. And if the base was warm when you made it, you will want to leave it covered on the counter instead of refrigerating - the cold might inhibit the rise and make it hard to incorporate the egg whites. Happy cooking!
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