Cold rhubarb souffle, cream and air

I was cooking for my daughter’s first birthday, and wanted to provide something the mature three- and four-year-olds could go ooh and aah over and then stick their fingers in, causing parents to scold; something that would have them lining up for seconds. I went for a cold rhubarb souffle, light as a feather, held together by egg whites, whipped cream and just enough gelatine to keep it bouncing about on the plate like a … well, you know what I mean.

8 stalks of rich red rhubarb, cut into 10cm sticks

60g sugar

6 leaves gelatine (for a litre of souffle) — Do not under any circumstances use powdered gelatine. You can taste the gelatine.

4 egg whites

30g caster sugar for the egg whites

1 cup whipping cream, whipped until just holding its own


Cook the rhubarb, the sugar stirred through, until soft. Those of us who are lazy do this in the microwave. Cover and cook for about 8 minutes, or until soft. Whizz until smooth and allow to cool in a wide, flat bowl. Ideally this step is carried out ahead.


Soften the gelatine in a bowl of warm water.


Whip the egg whites in a perfectly clean bowl, with a perfectly clean whisk, adding the sugar every now and then, until the mix is light, white and holding soft peaks.


Heat a little of the rhubarb, wring out the gelatine and mix it through the warmed rhubarb, then mix this back into the rest of the rhubarb.


It’s downhill from here. Fold the cream through the rhubarb, keeping the mix as light as you can, then do the same with the egg snow, adding a third at first, then the rest. Keep folding until the mix is light and pink, with no white streaks.


Gently pour into a mould and refrigerate for at least an hour, probably two. It is ready when it is just firm. You will know it’s right when the bowl is very cold.


Unmould onto a white plate, and keep the kids at bay until you have set aside a slice for yourself. This amount of gelatine just holds the mix together. It does not need to stand on its head. It should hold its own, but be as soft as a souffle. In fact, if you unmould it when it is just cold, the centre will still be very soft, like a real souffle.

WINE: It would be easy to overpower this with a very sticky, sweet wine. It’s a fine-structured dessert and needs a fine-structured wine. I’d go for a good bubbly.