A few weeks ago, I made the vanilla souffle recipe from I Know How to Cook. It was really fun!
It was really my first time using a real, whole vanilla bean. I split it down the middle, added it to a pan of milk (1 3/4 c.) and sugar (1/2 c.), and brought it just to a boil. After the sugar dissolved into the milk, I got to scrape the vanilla beans out of the pod and into the hot liquid. It was neat seeing the tiny black specks spread out in the milk.
Once the milk was thoroughly flavored with vanilla, I stirred in a scant half cup of flour and half cup butter, ensuring I whisked enough that there were no floury lumps. I took the pan off the heat and waited a few minutes. By then the milk's cool enough to add 5 egg yolks, which thickens and richens the mixture.
I got Georg to beat with an electric mixer the 5 remaining egg whites while I preheated the oven to 375 degrees and greased individual ramekins with butter. I've heard that using an upward motion when greasing the ramekins will allow the souffles to rise even higher. Once Georg had whipped the egg whites into stiff peaks, I gently folded them into the egg and milk mixture, and spooned it into the ramekins.
I think the individual souffles baked for about 15 minutes--although the time would depend on the size of your baking dish. I monitored them very closely and removed them from the oven when they were browned and just set on the top. It's important not to overbake them; overbaking can cause the air bubbles from the beaten egg whites to bust and the souffle to fall.
Immediately after the souffles come out of the oven, they must be served. I unfortunately waited a few minutes and the souffles fell partially before we could eat them. Apparently every souffle falls sooner or later, and you just have to eat it right out of the oven for it to be its fluffiest. As this great article on souffles says, "The nature of an airy souffle is to rise and fall, sort of like ancient Rome." You wait for the souffle, not the souffle for you. I will definitely follow that advice next time I bake a souffle.
Still, the souffle tasted like a wonderful vanilla cloud. The sensation of putting the hot, perfumed fluff into my mouth was awesome. I'm very excited about my souffle experience because now I can't wait to make all sorts of different souffles. Chocolate souffle, lemon souffle...even savory carrot souffle. I will keep my readers updated on my souffle adventures!