Jacques Pépin's Favorite Type Of Bowl For Whipping Up Soufflé

Soufflés have a reputation for being tricky to make. This is because the elegant egg dish must be completely made to order, will be ruined if you open the oven too soon, and must be practically sprinted to the customer before it deflates like an airless whoopee cushion. But The New York Times disagrees, saying that a soufflé, while it looks and sounds fancy, is simply a flavored sauce incorporated into egg whites and baked. The outlet explains that plenty of chefs make their soufflé bases ahead of time, only baking them when ordered and that you can still get a soufflé to rise if you let a quick blast of air into the oven. Perhaps the most crucial element in a successful soufflé is getting the egg whites right.

Jacques Pépin is an acclaimed French chef, cookbook author, and television host who famously collaborated with Julia Child on PBS. He has spent his life educating the world on the joys of French cooking, so, needless to say, he knows a thing or two about the soufflé and agrees that perfecting the egg whites is crucial to their success. They need to be soft yet firm and gently yet thoroughly incorporated into the base, he said to KQED. Any bowl and whisk will get the job done, but Pepin believes a specific bowl won't let you down if you're looking for superior results.

Nothing beats copper

During a soufflé-making lesson, Pépin said to Food & Wine that whipping egg whites in a copper bowl by hand makes the peaks more stable as the air becomes better incorporated into them. He also alternated between whipping very fast and then slowing down, barely touching the whisk to the bottom and sides of the bowl. Turns out, there is a scientific explanation to back up Pépin's choice of mixing bowl.

According to Kitchn, when egg whites are beaten, the protein strands loosen up from one another and cling instead to the incoming air, creating that signature airy foam. However, the more air that's incorporated, the tighter those bonds become. So if the egg whites are overwhipped, you'll end up with stiff, dry whites, which is not what you want when making a soufflé. 

When whisking in a copper bowl, microscopic flecks of the metal detach and bind to the egg white protein which will prevent egg whites from becoming too dry. What you are left with are glossy, airy whites perfect for soufflés. Copper mixing bowls can be pricey, and if one isn't in your budget, Kitchn explains that a bit of acid added to your whites will help, which is why you sometimes see lemon juice or cream of tartar as a soufflé ingredient.