"To fold a souffl� together, I shove the beaten whites in the bowl to one side, slip the still-warm white-sauce-yolk mixture into this space and with the wooden spatula gently fold the heavy part onto the light part. Holding the bowl facing inward, I scoop down from the back of the bowl straight toward me, turning the mixture over on itself. I rotate the bowl slightly between each scoop, and stop after completing one full circle.
"Then I pour the whole into an unbuttered dish, filling it level. I run a thumb around the top, a half inch or so in from the edge of the dish, to make a groove in the surface of the mix; this helps form the 'hat' of the souffl�. I place the dish on the lowest rack in a preheated oven, as it is important to have the heat come from below. Oven time depends entirely on the size of the souffl�. A dish about six inches in diameter for two to four persons should be done at 375� for 20 minutes. An eight-inch-diameter dish for six persons should be cooked at 375� for 30 to 35 minutes. By opening the oven door quietly, I can peek at a souffl� while it is cooking without causing it to fall. When the time is almost up, I can test it by slipping a straw into the souffl�; the straw should come out damp, not soggy.
"The French like a souffl� a bit runny inside, or baveaux, as they call it. The English do a firmer souffl� by a slower method—perhaps 50 minutes at 325�—and this is easier for some souffl� beginners. I know that most of you souffl� beginners like the white, straight-sided French dishes; I use any Pyrex or other good baking dish."
To any souffl� beginner who has come this far with the lesson, the general's recipe given below should present no problems.
Apricot and almond souffl�
First prepare a thick white sauce as the souffl� base. The general does this in a very heavy copper saucepan, but a beginner should use a double boiler. Melt 6 tablespoons butter, then stir in 6 tablespoons flour till smooth. Cook for a few minutes, then gradually whisk in 2 cups warmed milk and� teaspoon salt. Cook until thick, then add� cup sugar and also—stirring madly—� cups of good apricot jam that has been put through a coarse sieve, plus � cup blanched slivered almonds, measured coarsely chopped. Remove pan immediately from fire and set aside to cool slightly while whipping the yolks of 8 eggs with a rotary beater until lemon-colored. Fold yolks into the warm white sauce mixture. Beat 10 whites of eggs as directed above to proper consistency; fold together with the yolk mixture, as directed, and fill an 8-inch-diameter baking dish. Cook 30 to 35 minutes in a preheated 375� oven. If desired, when baking is almost finished, reach into the oven to sprinkle "hat" of the souffl� with powdered sugar from a shaker.
[I enjoyed this most served with whipped cream to which a little powdered sugar and a strong flavoring of Grand Marnier had been added.]