For a 4-to-6-cup soufflé mold or straight-sided baking dish 8 inches across, serving 4. You can bake this in a 4-cup mold with a paper collar, into which the soufflé will puff 2 to 3 inches over the rim and hold its puff when the collar is removed. Or bake it in a 6-cup mold, which will give you a more stable soufflé but less puff.
- 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons soft butter for the soufflé dish and collar
- 2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese for the soufflé dish
- 2 1/2 tablespoons butter for the soufflé
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 1 cup hot milk
- 1/4 teaspoon paprika
- A speck of grated nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 or 3 grinds of white pepper
- 4 egg yolks
- 5 egg whites
- 1 cup (3 1/2 ounces) coarsely grated Swiss cheese
Prepare the soufflé dish (see below). Slide rack onto lower-third level, and preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
The Sauce Base: Cook the 2 1/2 tablespoons butter and 3 tablespoons flour together in a 3-quart saucepan until they foam and froth for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and beat in the hot milk, then simmer and stir slowly for a minute or two to thicken. Remove from heat and whisk seasonings into sauce, then, one by one, the egg yolks.
Whip the egg whites to stiff, shining peaks. Whisk a quarter of them into the sauce to lighten it, then delicately fold in the rest of the whites, alternating with sprinklings of the grated Swiss cheese.
Turn the soufflé mixture into the dish and set in the oven. Reduce heat to 375 degrees and bake 25 to 30 minutes, until soufflé has puffed several inches into the collar, or an inch or two above the rim, and has browned nicely on top.
To Prepare the Soufflé Dish: Choose a straight-sided baking dish or a "charlotte" mold. Smear a light coating of soft butter over the insides of the dish, covering bottom and sides. Depending on the souffle, roll finely grated Parmesan cheese, or bread crumbs, or granulated sugar in the dish to cover inner surface completely, and knock out excess.
The Collar: If you are using a collar, cut a length of parchment paper or aluminum foil long enough to wrap around the dish with a 2-inch overlap, fold in half lengthwise, and butter one side. Wrap the collar around the dish, buttered side in; it should rise 3 inches above the rim. Secure in place with 2 straight pins, inserted heads up for quick removal.
To Serve a Soufflé: So as to deflate it as little as possible, hold a serving spoon and firk upright and back to back. Plunge them into the center of the souffle and tear it apart.