Souffle pancakes Arnold Bennett
- Preparation and cooking time
- Total time
- Ready in 1¼-1½ hrs
- A challenge
- Serves 4 as a lunch or supper dish, 6 as a dinner party starter
Gordon Ramsay celebrates Pancake Day in his own inimitable style – with some very posh pancakes
For the pancakes
For the souffle
- 300g undyed smoked haddock fillet
- 300ml milk
- 1small onion , sliced
- 1 bay leaf
- 40g unsalted butter , plus butter wrapper
- 40g plain flour
- 2large free-range egg yolks
- 100g gruyère , emmental or cheddar, grated
- 3large free-range egg whites
- a little softened butter , for greasing
- 284ml carton double cream (plus a 142ml carton if serving 6)
- 50g parmesan , freshly grated (use 85g/3oz if serving 6)
- STEP 1
Tip the flour and ½ tsp salt into a blender, add the eggs and milk and whizz to a smooth batter. There’s no need to let the batter stand as it only has a little flour in it – you can use it straight away.
- STEP 2
Put a non-stick 16-18cm omelette or crêpe pan over a high heat and wait until you feel a good heat rising. Brush the pan lightly with oil then pour in about 2 tbsp of the batter, using a small ladle, and quicky swirl it around the pan to coat. Cook for 30-60 seconds, then loosen the edges with a small palette knife and check underneath. It should be a mid golden-brown colour. Carefully flip the pancake over and cook the other side for 20-30 seconds. Slide the pancake out onto a paper towel. Repeat with the remaining batter, oiling the pan in between and stacking the pancakes on top of each other, then leave to cool.
- STEP 3
Lay the haddock, skin-side down, on a board and hold it at the tail end. Using a serrated knife, make a nick between the skin and flesh at this end. Pulling the skin hard towards you, slide the knife away from you in a sawing motion – the skin will come away easily in one piece. Put the fish, milk, onion and bay leaf in a shallow pan. Top with the butter wrapper, butterside down, and bring up to the boil. Remove from the heat and leave for about 7 minutes, until the flesh is firm.
- STEP 4
Lift the fish out of the pan and put it on a plate. Strain the milk into a jug. Press down on the fish with your finger, and watch the fish separate into perfect flakes. Check for any stray bones and discard them.
- STEP 5
Melt the butter in a medium pan and stir in half of the flour with a wooden spoon. Remove from the heat, stir vigorously, then cook for 30-60 seconds over a gentle heat, stirring. Repeat with the remaining flour. Now stir in the hot milk, in stages.
- STEP 6
Scrape the sauce into a bowl and whisk in the egg yolks – the warmth of the sauce makes it absorb the yolks better. Now whisk in two-thirds of the gruyère, which will melt into the sauce. Switch back to using the wooden spoon and gently fold in the fish to retain the whole flakes. Now’s the time to taste it as everything’s in except the egg whites, which are neutral. Grind over salt and black pepper and fold in.
- STEP 7
Whisk the egg whites in a metal bowl with a balloon whisk until they form stiff peaks, then fold into the warm sauce with a rubber spatula until evenly incorporated. Liberally butter 4 or 6 small gratin dishes (measuring 20 x 11.5cm across the top). Lay a pancake in each dish so that half lines the base and the other half overhangs. Divide the soufflé between the pancakes and flip over the overhanging halves to loosely enclose. Preheat the oven to fan 170C/conventional 190C/gas 5.
- STEP 8
Bring the cream to the boil in a pan, then remove from the heat. Whisk in the remaining gruyère and season. Ladle the sauce over the pancakes and top with the Parmesan. Stand the dishes on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, or until the mixture has risen and the top is browned.
The pancakes can be made the day before and kept chilled (or you can freeze them for up to 3 months, interleaving with cling film). For a dinner party, get them filled in their dishes 3-4 hours ahead, then put them on a baking sheet and keep in the fridge (bring to room temperature for 1 hour before baking). Make the cream sauce at the last minute and ladle it hot over the pancakes, then sprinkle with the parmesan.
TO MAKE LIGHT-AS-AIR PANCAKES
Using a blender or food processor is the quickest and best way to get air into the batter so you end up with light, delicate pancakes. Always start to whizz on a low speed so the ingredients remain in contact with the blades. This way the blades do their job of blending the batter until it’s smooth. Keep going until it looks smooth, then check by pouring some out. If there are any lumps, return the batter to the machine and whizz again.
FOR A FOOLPROOF SOUFFLé
To whisk up fewer than six egg whites I never use an electric mixer – I think it’s a waste of time even turning it on. It’s so quick to do it by hand, using a metal bowl and a balloon whisk. Once you’ve whisked the whites until they stand in stiff peaks, tip the whole lot on top of the warm sauce and fold in with a rubber spatula. The secret of marrying the two mixtures together successfully is to fold the egg whites into a warm, not cold sauce.