Why do ramekins have “flutes”?

An interesting question from reader Jonah R. this past weekend, for indeed most traditional soufflé dishes have a ridged exterior. Most smaller ramekins have them as well, and they’re not just decorative, they have a function. That function is to increase the surface area on the outside of the dish, and more surface area means faster heat penetration. The question is: does that little bit of extra heat really make a difference? I haven’t done side-by-side testing on the matter, but my gut feeling is no. Especially when you bake a soufflé in a thin tin charlotte mold, you get all the quick heat you need. As to whether that heat is perfectly even, that’s another matter entirely, and that’s where the ceramic comes into play. In the end I think it’s a toss-up as to which produces the best soufflé, so, use whatever you have at hand.

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