Q: I asked my brother, an executive chef at a golf club, the following question and he never (gave) me an answer either way: Is it possible to microwave a souffle?
—Joanne Thompson Pease, Torrington, Conn.
A: Conceivably you could, but why? Souffles can be difficult enough baked in a conventional oven. So fragile are these eggy, puffed-up concoction reputed to be that it seems nothing more than a long, cool stare is needed to lay them low. Why gamble with a microwave?
Still, never say never. I forwarded your question to Kim Freeman, a Louisville, Ky.-based spokesman for GE Appliances. She in turn reached out to one of the company's home economists.
The answer? "It's possible with lots of trial and error,'' Freeman said. "Souffles are so tricky and so involved it's not worth the effort."
Freeman said GE once developed a cheese souffle recipe for microwaves — but that was back in the age of lower wattages. It's harder, she said, to achieve good results in today's more powerful ovens, and the souffle falls quickly outside of the oven.
But, as with so many things in cooking, there's always a way to spin failure into something delicious.
Writing in The New York Times back in November 1988, cookbook author and microwave whiz Barbara Kafka proclaimed: "Souffles are a disaster in the microwave oven. After teasing the cook by rising beautifully high, they then fall flat." Yet, Kafka said that fallen souffle could then be turned into a type of roulade suitable for lunch or as a dessert.
What's a roulade? Here's the definition from "The Deluxe Food Lover's Companion": "A souffle-like mixture that's spread on a jelly roll pan, baked until firm but still moist, then spread with a savory or sweet filling and rolled up in jelly-roll fashion."
So, if you've got the time and the eggs and the patience, experiment with making a souffle in the microwave. You can always turn any "mistakes" into a roulade as Kafka did. Let me know how it goes.
Do you have a question about food or drink? E-mail Bill Daley at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Snail mail inquiries should be sent to: Bill Daley, Chicago Tribune, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago 60611. Twitter @billdaley.