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A trope that is little-used these days without actually being discredited, this could be found occasionally on Dom Coms up until the early 1970s, particularly those with child characters. A cook is attempting to bake a souffle for a fancy party or important dinner. Unfortunately, they must do so under riotous circumstances, with a consequent paranoia about the souffle collapsing. Naturally, some event -- rambunctious children or a slamming door or a car backfiring -- does indeed make the souffle fall, thus "spoiling" the event.

Two variations on this trope exist: In one, the rambunctious behavior around the souffle is quieted down with no ill effects, only to have a relatively-distant disturbance (slamming door, car backfire) collapse the souffle after it is "safe" (the souffle can be replaced by say, a sleeping baby). The other works much the same, except that it is the cook him- or herself which triggers the collapse.

In reality, the only way to drop a soufflé into a puddle of goo is to:

  1. Open the oven prematurely (sponge cakes are also subject to this)
  2. Improperly construct it so that the fat in the yolk mixture destabilizes the foamy whites mixture. Refer to the relevant Good Eats episode. What Alton Brown doesn't say, though, is that it is laughably easy to do this, especially given mid-20th century ingredients and equipment.

See also Carrying a Cake.

Examples of Endangered Souffle include:


Comics

  • Gaston Lagaffe once bakes an enormous souffle to cheer up his chronically depressed cousin. Initially it seems to work, but collapses at a critical moment, resulting in the "most depressing sight ever." Probably justified, since Gaston is a Cordon Bleugh Chef often bordering on a Lethal Chef.
    • He also accidentally transformed a Grand Marnier bottle into a rocket grenade while trying to flambee some crepes, missing the french president's limousine in a nearby parade by only a few meters.

Fanfic

  • Used straight but comedically in the notorious 'Sith Academy' Slash Fic series; the humor of the situation comes from the fact that the person baking the chocolate souffle is Darth Maul, a vicious-minded Sith Lord who otherwise has the patience of a hyperactive weasel, while what causes it to collapse (and Maul to fly into a homicidal rage) is two Jedi Knights (Obi Wan Kenobi and Qui Gon Jinn, as it happens) having noisy sex in the apartment next door.

Film

  • It happens with a cake in Harriet the Spy, only Harriet deliberately stomps and knocks over some chairs after the cook tells her to be quiet.
  • The 2000 Charlie's Angels movie has Lucy Liu's character Alex attempting to keep her souffle intact while the trailer she's in is getting perforated with bullets. The souffle never stood a chance.
  • Appears in How to Murder Your Wife with the wife's famous "lasagna souffle".
    • There really is such a thing as a lasagne souffle. It is a Greek (not Italian) appetizer involving several different kinds of cheese.
  • A recurring gag in the Shaquille O'Neal superhero movie Steel.
  • Averted in the Christopher Reeve Superman film. Supes is cooking a souffle with his heat vision, and Lois stops him just in time.

 "You must never overcook souffle!"

Live Action TV

  • A distant relative of this trope is illustrated by the episode of I Love Lucy in which the gang is in a cabin at the base of a mountain slope, trying not to trigger an avalanche.
  • The Catherine Tate Show does with with a pair of new parents attending a dinner party and being forced to eat in the car for fear of waking the baby.

 "Are you insane? She's asleep - we can't move her!"

  • Subverted in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine of all places, where they sneak weapons into a prison under the pretense of delivering a souffle, and when a guard demands to investigate it, they warn him to be careful with it...right before they knock him out with the Off-Button Hypospray, causing his head to fall into the souffle and crush it.
    • Also referenced by Sisko, when he relates to how his father used to say: "Worry and doubt are the greatest enemies of a great chef. The soufflé will either rise or it won't; there's not a damn thing you can do about it, so you might as well just sit back and wait and see what happens."
  • In The Brady Bunch, Alice keeps trying to shush the kids and then collapses the souffle herself by knocking over a pan with a loud crash.
  • An episode of Are You Being Served had the opposite problem, in which Mr Humphries was trying to hold down a souffle that was growing out of control.
  • In the Master Chef semi-finals, the contestants had to make a chocolate souffle. Whitney, the eventual winner had a case of both Carrying a Cake and Endangered Souffle as she had to hurry and present the souffle to the judges as the souffle slowly sank.
  • In one episode of My Three Sons, "Happy Birthday, World," son Robbie tries to earn extra money by setting up a home business making birthday cakes. At one point, while he's making a set of cakes, a door is slammed in the house and causes the three cakes in the oven to collapse.
    • Oddly enough the cakes that do come out of the oven fine look very much to have been topped already and put back in the pans upside-down giving them perfectly square tops.
  • Used as a major plot point in an episode of Wimzies House.
  • Used in an episode of The Golden Girls, although the souffle in question is never seen. In the episode where Rose is revealed to have a dependency on painkillers, she has violent mood swings when her prescription runs out; a local producer is trying to film a commercial in the kitchen with Sophia, and Rose comes in and tears him a new one for endangering the souffle that no one knew she was making.
    • Betty White was involved in another souffle scene in The Mary Tyler Moore Show; Chloris Leachman's character Phyllis deliberately collapses a souffle Sue Ann Nivens (White) is baking when Phyllis finds out about Nivens' affair with her husband.

Puppet Shows

  • A variation on The Muppet Show: The Swedish Chef's soufflé comes out of the oven so light it actually floats into the air. He shoots an arrow at it in an attempt to get it to fall down. It falls down, all right...in both senses of the word.

 Swedish Chef: The freesbee soufflé.

Web Comics

Western Animation

  • Time Squad, the one with Edgar Allan Poe.
  • Inverted in The Tick, where a mad baker attempts to create a giant souffle to smother The City. To collapse the souffle, the Tick must shoot himself out of a cannon at the speed of sound.
  • In an episode of SpongeBob SquarePants, Spongebob causes the collapse of Squidward's souffle after it's removed from the oven.
  • Futurama. When long-time chef show host Helmut Spargle is replaced by the Emeril-esque Elzar, Elzar "BAM"s and causes Spargle's souffle to collapse.
    • Parodied and justified in later episode "The Mutants are Revolting", which features a souffle that contains nitroglycerin.
  • A plot point in an episode of The Fairly Odd Parents. Early in the episode, Timmy's mom tries to make a pink souffle, which collapses and turns grey (due to her poor cooking skills, although I think noise was also involved). Later, when Timmy makes a wish that everyone and everything were the same, the world goes greyscale, and everyone becomes identical blobs. Cosmo and Wanda can't find Timmy until he recreates his trademark pink hat using another of his mother's collapsed souffles, which was supposed to be grey.
  • This happens to Reverend Lovejoy in The Simpsons, when a phonecall from Ned Flanders distracted him long enough from his soufflé for it to collapse.

  Lovejoy: Damn Flanders...

  • Partially subverted in one episode of PBS Kids Go series, Cyberchase, in which two characters are in a televised cooking competition with the main antagonist and one of his henchmen (Delete), when the henchman tries to sabotage the main characters' souffle by creating a loud noise to make it fall flat, but one of the two main characters, who has repeatedly been stated throughout the series to have some degree of cooking skill, says that it was possible to re-inflate the souffle by using a certain number of drops of water on it at a certain rate.
  • Dave the Barbarian makes an 'Armageddon Souffle', not realizing that it is "not only a tasty end to any meal, but a tasty end ... TO THE WORLD!" It wreaks havoc, only being collapsed when Dave's family chops down a tree, which lands on Dave's toe and makes him to scream like an opera singer.
  • In Recess, the gang decides to save Chef Vince from being sent to France by sabotaging his soufflé test, with a popped paper bag.
  • In one episode of Strawberry Shortcake's Berry Bitty Adventures, Berrykin Bloom's loud bassoon-playing collapses the souffles that Strawberry made.
  • Discussed in Angela Anaconda, where Gordy and Angela's brothers are making a Souffle and tell her to be quiet because it's in the oven.
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