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Little orange soufflés

Although savoury soufflés are more common, Mark prefers their sweet sisters. These lovely orange soufflés have a dark golden, slightly chewy lid atop a soft, fluffy centre and a wonderfully foamy base. The recipe works perfectly with lemons too. He likes to cook the soufflés in the hollowed-out oranges, as he finds more oranginess is transferred to the soufflé this way, but the rise of the soufflé can occasionally be lopsided. If you prefer a more uniform rise, bake them in ramekins.

Method

Preheat the oven to 220°C/Gas mark 7. Line a baking sheet with baking parchment. Cut the top third or so off each orange and a thin slice off the bottom so the orange sits flat on the baking sheet.

Scoop out the flesh from each orange, squeezing the juice into a bowl; set aside. Place the hollowed-out oranges on the baking sheet.

Put the egg whites and half of the sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer or a large mixing bowl and beat on a low speed (using the mixer or a handheld electric whisk) until the mixture becomes frothy. Gradually increase the speed, whisking until the meringue is glossy and holding soft peaks. It should only take a couple of minutes to get to the soft-peak stage; take care to avoid over-beating.

Combine the egg yolks, the remaining 75g sugar, 60ml orange juice and the flour in another large bowl and whisk until pale yellow. Whisk in a third of the meringue to loosen the mixture, then gently fold in the rest of the meringue, using a large metal spoon.

Spoon the mixture into the orange shells to just below the rim. Place the baking sheet in the top of the oven and lower the oven setting to 190°C/Gas mark 5. Bake for 8 minutes, until the soufflés have risen above the rims and the tops are golden. Don't open the oven any sooner to check them, as the cool air rushing in may cause the souffles to collapse. If they need a little longer, shut the door quickly and give them another minute or two.

Remove the soufflés from the oven, sift over a little icing sugar and/or a little cocoa if you fancy and serve immediately - soufflés are just desperate to deflate.

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Ingredients

  • 8 medium oranges
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 3 tbsp plain flour
  • A little icing sugar and/or cocoa powder, for dusting (optional)

This recipe is taken from...

River Cottage Chicken & Eggs Handbook

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