NB: The souffle base can be made up to one day in advance. Cover it with buttered greaseproof paper to prevent a crust from forming.
50g/2oz unsalted butter
50g/2oz plain flour
450ml/16¼fl oz full-fat milk
2 pinches sea salt
2 pinches white pepper
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
3 free-range egg yolks
¼ lemon, juice only
7 free-range egg whites, whisked until soft peaks form when the whisk is removed
pinch cayenne pepper
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Place a baking tray onto the middle shelf in the oven.
Grease a shallow oval baking dish with the melted butter. Add the breadcrumbs to the dish and turn it to coat the sides and bottom with crumbs, shaking out any excess.
For the soufflé base, heat the butter in a small saucepan until melted.
Add the flour and whisk to combine, then continue to heat, whisking regularly, until the mixture is smooth and golden-brown, about 5-6 minutes. (NB: This is called a roux.)
Meanwhile, heat the milk in a separate saucepan until just simmering. Add half of the hot milk to the roux and whisk until smooth and well combined. Add the remaining milk and whisk again until smooth and well combined. Add a pinch of salt, pepper and all of the mustard then whisk once more.
Remove the pan from the heat, then whisk in the egg yolks and cheese until the cheese has melted and the mixture is smooth. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl.
Meanwhile, add the lemon juice to the whisked egg whites, then continue to whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form when the whisk is removed. Add a pinch of cayenne pepper and whisk again.
Whisk one-third of the egg white mixture into the soufflé base until well combined. Carefully fold in the remaining egg whites until just combined. Season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground white pepper.
Pour the soufflé mixture into the prepared dish and smooth the top with a palette knife. Slide your finger around the rim of the dish to prevent the soufflé from clinging to it. Sprinkle over the remaining finely grated Comté cheese.
Immediately transfer the soufflé to the oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until pale golden-brown, risen and set.
Meanwhile, for the sauce, bring the cream to the boil in a pan and add the cheese, mustard, cayenne pepper and kirsch (if using), stirring continually until the cheese has melted. Remove the pan from the heat and season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground white pepper. Keep warm.
To serve, place the soufflé, in its dish, into the centre of the table. Cut a cross in the centre of the soufflé and pour in some of the cream sauce. Let your family and friends help themselves.
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