How do I make my souffle rise properly?

Crowning glory: There are some tricks to creating a winning souffle.
Crowning glory: There are some tricks to creating a winning souffle. Photo: Edwina Pickles

How do I get my souffle to form a crown? C. Leskiv

Make a collar with baking paper. Make sure the souffle dish is well-buttered and the surface of the paper facing the souffle is also well-buttered. After the mixture has been poured in, run your finger around the rim between the batter and the dish. Remember, when making a souffle: preheat the oven; don't over-beat the egg whites; bake on the bottom rack in a conventional oven so the top doesn't dry out; and don't open the door during cooking.

I can't stop pastry from sticking to my wooden rolling pin. H. Meier

Here are a few ideas. Make sure the pastry is cold. Keep in the fridge 30 minutes before rolling it out. Dust both the pastry and the rolling pin in flour. If this fails try chilling the rolling pin or covering it in plastic wrap. Finally - and this sounds a little perverse, so don't do it in front of casual acquaintances - cover the pin in a tight tubular bandage. I have seen this work, but it does leave a pattern of the fabric on the pastry, so turn the pastry over and bake bench side up.

Should I throw out the brown and purple bits of raw minced beef? M. Roberts

Assuming you have kept the beef cool and not left it in the car for hours in the sun, and assuming the beef is within its use-by date, I would say your meat is OK to eat. The main pigment in meat is myoglobin, an oxygen-storing protein. In the presence of oxygen, myoglobin is bright red. If you smother minced meat in impervious plastic film and remove the oxygen, myoglobin turns deep purple. However, it is still fine to eat. Unwrap the mince and expose it to air and it will soon regain colour. Sometimes the oxygen pulls the iron atom out of the molecule and the myoglobin takes on a water molecule. The meat then looks brown. Again, if handled safely, it should still be fine to eat. Of course, never eat smelly meat.

I have always let my children lick the bowl after making a cake. Now I just read on a packet mix, "Do not eat the cake batter; it contains raw egg''. Elsa Z.

The Victorian Government Better Health Channel website recommends that one avoid food containing raw egg, including homemade mayonnaise, and raw biscuit dough and cake batter. Eggs can be contaminated with salmonella, leading to food poisoning. It would be irresponsible for me to make comments such as "tell the fun police to shove it up their fundament". Instead, I can offer some extra information. The website also states that the other factors that increase the risk of food poisoning are time and temperature. Salmonella bacteria need warm conditions - above 5 degrees and below 60 degrees - for several hours to multiply. There is a greater risk of food poisoning from eating raw cake batter left out at room temperature. I'll leave it to you.


Recently we answered a query about the Irish dish ''champ'', potatoes mashed with milk infused with spring onions/shallots, prompting J. Scullion to write: ''This took me back to my childhood in Ireland. [Champ] was a staple at our house. However, I think you may have missed a vital step in the preparation. My mother always loosely placed a clean tea towel on the potatoes for a few minutes when they had been cooked and drained. This seemed to increase the 'flouriness' of the spuds prior to mashing them.''

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