Invalid Cookery: Custard Souffle

I’m a bit late this week with invalid cookery, but health matters–mine and my husbands–keep getting in the way.  Now, more than ever, I need some good recipes for sick people, and this custard souffle looked appetizing.

I made a couple of mistakes when I made it.

  1. I made it early in the day, so I could see how it works. But it needs to be served immediately.
  2. I didn’t have my camera ready when it came out of the oven, so it did what souffles do, it fell before I could snap a picture.
custard souffle

This is what happens to custard souffle after just a minute out of the oven.

When it came out of the oven, the souffle was impressively domed above the dish.

Besides falling promptly, it is a bit fussy to make, as well.  Which in my opinion, makes it an inVALid recipe for INvalid cooking.

The  caretaker is going to be busy, and doesn’t need to add fussy recipes to their chore list.  The patient may not want to eat at the very moment that the custard emerges from the oven.  The custard does not keep well in the refrigerator. Oh, it tastes alright after it falls, but is certainly better when in the bloom of airy youth.

Joy of Cooking says that once you have mixed all the ingredients and filled the dishes, you can keep the custard in the refrigerator for several hours before cooking.  That would help a bit.

The one positive thing I can say for this recipe from <strongThe Home Makers’ Cooking School Cook Book, is that the recipe makes just two cups. One for the patient and one for the cook?

If you want to try your hand at a souffle, this might be a good starting point. If ever it were important to carefully read a recipe before starting, always a good idea, it is doubly important with this one.

Custard Souffle

  • 2 level teaspoons butter [plus more to grease the dishes]
  • 2 level teaspoons flour
  •  1/3 C milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar

Melt the butter, add the flour and blend smoothly, without browning.  Pour in the milk and cook three minutes after boiling point is reached.  Separate the white from the yolk of the egg and beat each.  Pour hot mixture (let it cook a little) over the yolk, put in the sugar and fold in gently the stiffly beaten white.  Turn into two greased cups and bake in a steady oven [350 degrees] till firm–about fifteen minutes.  Serve at once, with or without sauce.

Here are a few tips:

It would be a good idea to grease the custard cups before doing anything else. Really coat them well, because once baked, egg whites are very sticky.

Use a very small pan so that you can stir the flour-butter-milk mixture well. It works best to use a whisk along with a spoon to scrape the sides and bottom of the pan.

It is not necessary to keep the temperature at boiling as it cooks.  Usually recipes with milk stop at a simmer.

If you have a few stubborn lumps, pour the custard through a sieve when you put it in the eggs.

I’m surprised that the recipe calls for the slightly cooled butter-flour-milk mixture into the egg yolks without a bit of tempering. To avoid cooking the eggs, slowly raise their temperature by stirring in a teaspoon at a time  of the hot mixture until the until the yolks have warmed, then stir all the rest of the egg yolk into the warm mixture.

Don’t forget to add the sugar before folding in the egg white.

If you take the souffle out of the oven before the center is entirely firm, it will avoid overcooking.

Most recipes call for baking custards in a water bath to keep the temperature more even and avoid  overcooking. This book does recommend that practice in a chapter with regular custards, but perhaps by the time the reader gets to the invalid cookery in the back of the book, she is expected to know that.

For the water bath method, pour enough water in a pan with sides (deep cake pan or broiler pan) to come up about 2/3 of the way to the top of the level of the custard in the dishes. Put that pan of water in the oven, then add the filled custard cups. Bake as described above.

I’m going to try an easier custard recipe, one that will keep in the refrigerator, to tempt my sick husband’s appetite, and I’ll give you that recipe next week.

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