I do not have in my possession- a Southern cookbook that does not have multiple recipes for the classic French soufflé – sweet and savory, for dessert, a side dish or even a main luncheon dish. The Classic Cheese Souffle, is a true high wire act of
- whisking egg whites,
- preparing an egg yolk custard base,
- then carefully folding in the egg whites;
- not to mention not opening the oven or the whole thing will collapse-
Well, who wants to go through all of that? And though soufflés are stunning- they must be served immediately. The truth is though, most Southern cooks who make souffles regularly will tell you they are not hard, the base can be made hours ahead and chilled- it’s all of that whipping egg whites and folding right before baking that makes souffles seem high wire and in danger of falling flat! Even so, Cheese Souffle seems to have been considered part of a Southern cook’s repertoire to the extent that quite a few cookbooks even have a strong suggestion that Bless-ed is the Bride who can pull off at least one soufflé for her new husband! I would go a step further and say- Bless-ed are the guests who are served at least one soufflé! Recipes abound for Bride’s Cheese Souffle, some are blatantly named Mock or Fake Cheese Souffle, just in case poor Audrey Virginia Wallace-Calvin needs to see can’t fail in black and white print!
‘Darlin’ we know you bragged to John Wesley Calvin III, that you could actually cook, but believe me, you can fool him with this one!’
It has literally been decades since I have even attempted to make a real soufflé, yet in Spring with eggs in plentiful supply, milk and sharp cheddar cheese on hand; I decided to make a Faux Cheese Souffle. I assembled the ingredients the night before. The Faux Cheese Souffle was surprisingly easy, it is light and fluffy with full flavor, holds very well and can also be re-heated. Let me tell you how it was done:
Faux Cheese Souffle
- Butter an 8 cup soufflé dish generously
- Trim the crusts from 8-10 slices of white loaf sandwich bread. On one side only, butter each slice, then cut in fourths.
- Finely grate 1 pound of sharp cheddar cheese (must be sharp or even extra sharp cheddar) Divide in half.
- 4 Large Eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon of Salt
- 2 cups of Whole Milk
- 1½ teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
- 1 teaspoon of dry mustard (I prefer Coleman’s®)
- Pinch or two of Cayenne Pepper
Layer half of the buttered, quartered bread in the bottom of buttered soufflé dish, making sure bread is buttered side up. Cover with half of the grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese. Repeat this with more buttered bread and the other half of the grated cheese. In a bowl-
Whip the 4 large eggs well, add salt, then whole milk and spices mixing well. Pour this mixture over the layered bread and cheese. Cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight or up to 24 hours. Preheat the oven to 350º uncover faux cheese soufflé mixture and bake- center rack of oven for 45 minutes to one hour. The soufflé will be puffed, golden brown and bubbly, with the center of the soufflé set. * The addition of bread is what helps the soufflé hold up, the overnight soaking keeps the soufflé light and fluffy. You may serve immediately or allow to cool for a buffet table, a meatless meal, a light luncheon or with Baked Ham or Roast Beef or Petit Filet Mignon.
A side salad is wonderful or crudites of fresh vegetables. Serves 6-10. This is a light but rich dish! I hope you’ll give it a try- impress yourself, your family or even your guests and only you will know it’s a Faux Cheese Souffle!
Love y’all, Camellia
*photographs are obviously mine. Recipe was gleaned from several cookbooks I own- I adjusted seasonings to my liking, some do not call for dry mustard, some call for more or less Worcestershire sauce and others (though rarely) omit cayenne pepper.