The original inspiration for The Engine Room’s signature dish came from co-owner Natalia Schamroth’s friend’s mother, who would often make a single-baked soufflé for dinner. A volcanic-like savoury pudding was presented in the middle of the dining table for everyone to share, and sparked an idea.
“Long before The Engine Room existed, we would often make this soufflé for a very quick-to-prepare and most satisfying dinner,” says Schamroth, who makes this recipe at home with her husband, and other half of The Engine Room, Carl Koppenhagen. “This single-baked soufflé is a less rich and more precarious version of what we have been serving at The Engine Room for the past fifteen years. The twice-baked individual style is baked with an extra mountain of parmesan cheese and a lush creamy sauce. Both versions have a place in our world!”
So long as you stick to the science of this recipe, the flavours are easily adaptable, says Schamroth. Adding ham, caramelised onions or slow-cooked fennel would all work well.
The Engine Room Owners’ Single-Baked Cheese Soufflé Recipe
60g softened unsalted butter
40g finely grated parmesan cheese
250ml whole milk
30g plain flour
1 handful of soft herbs (chervil, chives, parsley), finely chopped
100g hard cheese, grated
4 eggs, separated
Freshly ground black pepper
Freshly ground nutmeg
1. Heat oven to 200°C.
2. Use half of the butter to grease the bottom and sides of the baking dish. Use a little of the parmesan cheese to ‘dust’ and coat the butter. Place the baking dish in the fridge while you are preparing the soufflé.
3. Gently heat the milk until warm to the touch. In a heavy-based saucepan, melt the remaining butter, add the flour, stir over low heat for 5 minutes, until the flour is cooked but not browned. Carefully add in the milk to the butter and flour, in one go. Whisk fast until all lumps disappear.
4. Stir the sauce for 5 minutes, simmering over low heat then add the herbs, parmesan and grated cheese, stir until well combined. Transfer the mixture into a large bowl then beat the egg yolks in one by one until completely combined. Season highly with salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste, then set aside.
5. Beat the egg whites until they form firm, glossy peaks. Fold half of the egg whites into the cheese mixture until well combined. Then very gently fold the remaining egg whites into the mixture. Taste the mixture and re-season if needed.
6. Remove the baking dish from the fridge and pour the soufflé mixture into it. Run your thumb around the edge of the soufflé mixture. Place the baking dish into the centre of the oven – set a timer for 25 minutes (do not open the door)!
7. The soufflé will have risen and be golden brown on top. For a softer, creamier centre, remove the soufflé from the oven at this point. If you prefer a firmer texture, leave the soufflé to bake for a further 5 minutes.
8. Don’t hesitate, immediately take the soufflé to the dining table and serve with a large, wet spoon alongside a salad of your choice.
— You’ll need a heavy ovenproof dish that is approximately one and a half litres in volume, larger is better than smaller.
— Choose any cheese you like; a salty blue, sharp cheddar or aged goat gouda all work well.
— We like to add soft herbs such as chervil, chives and parsley but smaller amounts of thyme and marjoram are nice too.
— Please note, the mixture needs to be highly seasoned before baking.
— This makes a perfect light dinner or lunch alongside a fragrant salad. Our favourite salad to go with this is made with sorrel, witloof, chervil, parsley and roasted walnuts. And always a sharp, Dijon vinaigrette.