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Total souffle failure: what went wrong and how can I ever recover from the culinary shame? I tried making individual dessert souffles on Christmas and New Year's Eve (two different recipes, two different ovens, two different sets of guests) and both times they failed to rise. I think it's because I could not get the egg whites stiff enough, despite beating for what felt like hours with my crappy little handheld mixer until I was deaf in both ears, and my husband begged me to stop. Any tips if I ever decide to try again? Egg temperature? Type of mixing bowl? Convection turned on or off?

asked by Ms. T over 6 years ago
7 answers 5321 views
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Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

added over 6 years ago

Sorry to hear it! Egg whites whip best when they're room temperature. They need to be whipped in a very clean bowl, preferably stainless steel. And a pinch of salt helps them set up. Did you add anything to the eggs?

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added over 6 years ago

Sorry about your disaster. When I whip egg whites, I always use a stainless steel bowl which I've cleaned out with a white vinegar soaked tissue. I recently made some souffles which came out beautifully, read this post for some tips http://www.kitchenbutterfly...

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added over 6 years ago

It is possible to over whip egg whites which reduces their ability to provide structure. I found the best way for me to get them correctly whipped was to use a wire whip and manually beat the eggs to the perfect point. Its slower that way be I was able to discernrn the stages better. So when I reverted to an electric mixer I could better detrimine I was at stiff peaks and not go past it. Also opening the oven door during baking will cause collapse. Additionally a souffle must be served within 90 seconds of exiting the oven or they will collaspe.

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added over 6 years ago

I had to make chocolate souffles for a catered event in Palm Beach. The chef in charge handed me a hand held elec mixer for a (I kid you not) huge bowl of egg whites. I learned that night that it is possible to beat a huge amount of eqq whites to a proper level of stiffness w/ a crappy mixer, but not easy. I suspect that there was a bit of fat on the bowl or your beaters. If the whites had been overbeaten, they would have looked dry and lumpy. I always wipe out the bowl and beater w/ vinegar. When beating whites, as they start to foam, add a pinch of cream of tarter, that helps stabilize the whites. I'm sorry that happened, it's frustrating!

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added over 6 years ago

Thank you all for the tips! I did have the eggs at room temp, but I was using a glass bowl, and I probably got a drop of yolk in there or something. Next time, I will try the stainless steel bowl, with the vinegar wipe down, and the pinch of salt or tartar. And the link on St.P Times answered my convection question, thank you betteirene. If anyone is curious, soupy chocolate souffle tastes much better than soupy lemon souffle, and the guests hardly seemed to mind.

Kitchen Butterfly, your souffle (and your whole blog) looks lovely and delicious.

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added over 6 years ago

Sweet success! I tried again following many of the suggestions above and the third time was a charm. My hazelnut souffles with chocolate creme anglaise were delicious. Thanks all!

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