A cheese soufflé is a knockout way to begin a dinner party, but they can be a bit tricky to get right. Follow Raymond Blanc's top tips for achieving the perfect soufflé and you'll rise to the challenge and serve up a classic French starter. Bon appétit!

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Raymond Blanc talks souffles

Photograph: Jonathan Gregson

Let Raymond Blanc puff up your soufflés with Gallic pride

Get the basics right

  • Follow the recipe to the letter – soufflés, as with most baking, are an exact science.
  • Make sure your base mixture is the right consistency, as it provides the structure for your soufflé. It needs to be not too wet or too dry.

The eggs factor

  • The lightness of your soufflé comes from the eggs. First, make sure your base is still warm, then whisk in one-third of the stiff egg whites to loosen it. Once you've done this, fold in the rest – ensuring you don't over-fold at this stage. It's OK if there are a few white blobs.
  • Don't over-whisk the egg whites or you will knock out the air bubbles, making your soufflé heavy and dense.
  • Add a tiny squeeze of lemon juice to the egg whites to stop them separating as you whisk.

Help your soufflé rise

  • To get a good rise on your soufflé, lightly butter the inside of your dish and coat in a thin layer of fine breadcrumbs or grated parmesan.
  • For small soufflés, fill the ramekins to the top. For large ones, fill only three-quarters of the way up.

Prep for the oven

  • Run the tip of a round-bladed knife around the edge to prevent the soufflé from sticking.
  • Put your soufflé dishes on a preheated baking tray so your soufflé won't have a soggy bottom.
  • Bake them on the middle shelf of the oven to stop the top from burning.

Still a bit soufflé-shy?

  • If you're making your soufflé debut for guests, why not try a twice-baked soufflé - this way you can prep them ahead, then re-bake them to serve.

• This piece first appeared on the Sainsbury's magazine blog, Tried and Tasted