Project Benedict

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You’ve had eggs benedict – but what about eggs benedict on a fresh, home-made muffin with handcrafted hollandaise sauce? And what if your hollandaise “splits” in the middle of the cooking process? Can it be retrieved, or should you bin it and start again?

These and other questions answered in this marathon episode.

Strictly speaking, eggs benny is made with ham, but in our experience smoked salmon has become synonymous with the dish.

Getting “good” eggs benedict when eating out can be surprisingly hard. We got hooked on greasy spoon breakfasts in Canada but on the occasion we broke from the staple of bacon and eggs were horrified to be confronted with a mess of ingredients smothered in a globby, translucent yellow-orange hollandaise obviously out of a squeeze bottle, the rubbery egg sitting atop a stamped-out square of processed ham. Certain Edmonton diners shall remain nameless.

The muffin recipe we drafted from numerous sources resulted in a dough, when I was expecting the pan-baked muffins to involve a batter. Afterwards I did some more research and found you do indeed need a more batter-like consistency to produce the internally bubbly muffin I would have preferred. No, I’m not confusing muffins with crumpets, but for the right amount of “crunch” after toasting a muffin really should have quite big cavities. Ours were more like scones inside.

Lenny did the scary work of making the hollandaise sauce. The bloody thing fulfilled our worst nightmares by “splitting” – basically, separating – but she rescued it by whizzing up an extra egg yolk and blitzing it into the mixture.

I’m not sure whether it was the egg yolk or the blitzing that did the trick, but after about 30 seconds the horribly separated mess morphed into a smooth, creamy hollandaise.

My egg poaching technique – using a biscuit or scone cutter to contain the egg – was decried as cheating by Lenny. The main reason I do it is so I can walk away and make a cup of coffee or some toast while the egg cooks. But her swirling method seemed to do the trick.

You can keep your ham when it comes to eggs benny – I’ll go with salmon any day. We didn’t stretch to smoking our own salmon – maybe next time!

– Waz

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22 Responses to “Project Benedict”

  • I never thought a simple brekky dish could bring so many new concepts to the kitchen- a “rammed” half cup of butter (priceless), zombie sauce (back from the dead) and Waz, the cookie-cutter monster! Yummo

  • Bravo! I’m super proud that you guys were able to save that sauce. Quite a feat! So let’s recap… Waz, your egg was too firm, as was your bagel, er, pretzel (haha) dough. Len, your egg was undercooked in the middle, as was your teacake. I’m seeing a pattern here. Thoroughly enjoyed this one, even though I run screaming at the sight of a cooked egg. My boyfriend will appreciate my newfound knowledge. Oh, and one more thing: can I send you a new toaster? PLEASE?

  • Good save on the sauce.
    I’ve seen this many times in the States with what we call Canadian Bacon, which is round, the perfect size for an english muffin. My sister makes english muffins, it is indeed an involved process, I opt for store bought.

  • Natalie from Montreal

    Great show! Really loved it. Poached eggs are my fav method for eggs, as to me the hardest to master…still trying. Keep up the great work. Nat

  • It’s a hot Sydney Sunday. We are both feeling shabby after a feast of 8 hour lamb and too much red wine last night with friends. Trawling around on my laptop, I had the pleasure of finding you two. What a great afternoon I’ve had. You’ve inspired me to go back to my much neglected blog. I admire how you maintain your humour cooking together. We would kill each other. And I had to laugh when Lenny asked Waz to mind the glass bowl, having just watched the shattering pyrex lamb video. Love it and will be back often.

  • It is 70 f in Atlanta GA USA and wow this is a great reminder of wonderful dish. I have enjoyed your podcasts ! Now I am inspired to test this out on the family.

  • I watched on FoodTV an easy way to make a hollandaise sauce.

    What you need:
    Couple of eggs (or more as required) heaps of melted butter – about 100g or the half cup you used (pot/microwave to melt).

    Put eggs in small blender, or bowl with whisk. Start beating them while *slowly* adding the melted butter. Then before you get too carried away with adding butter, add some lime or lemon juice.

    I makes a really rich sauce but the citrus cuts though it nicely.

    I like my eggs benny with crispy bacon, never tried salmon though!

  • Great work guys.

    A big favourite here….we however opt for bacon…sorry to be boring!

    A little dill in hollandaise is also accepted in our house.

    Cheers from Willsmere.

  • This was fun. I’m a bit concerned that your last egg yolk didn’t get heated at all. Not good for young, old, infirm or pregnant.

    Leslie Kenton has a lovely short-cut recipe for Hollandaise which is very similar to Mayonnaise. You basically put everything but the butter in a blender. Wiz it all, and then, while still blending, add the hot melted butter in a thin stream. If you were worried the eggs needed further heating, you could then add this easy emulsion to a double boiler and whisk some more.

    Also, I think Delia Smith has the best method for poaching eggs. She does it in a shallow pan on a low simmer with no vinegar and very fresh eggs.

    Love your show guys, Cheers.

  • I’ve made English Muffins before, and I think you would get more holes if you used a looser dough. The recipe I used, when followed exactly, was too loose to knead by hand, and almost too loose to form into muffins. I had a reasonable number of holes, but I think the most important step for the holes has to be the second rise. Here’s the recipe I used. Can’t wait to try Hollandaise.

    English Muffins (Makes 12)

    450 g. Bread Flour (3 1/4 C)
    2 tsp Yeast
    1 1/2 teaspoon salt
    1 1/2 teaspoon natural dough improver (I skipped this part)
    1 teaspoon sugar
    350 mL warm water (About 1.6 C)

    Similar techniques as the video, although I had to knead using a spoon.

  • well, the videos you have here are both entertaining and informative.

    they are informative in such a way that it teaches cooking idiots like me how to cook in a way that i get to feel what it feels like to really be there. as if i’m the one cooking.

    they are also very entertaining because of their uniqueness. unlike those cooking shows i usually see on tv, you videos provide me a glimpse of what cooking is really like. they taught me that cooking is never easy and the results cannot be perfect all the time.

    thank you guys!

  • Wonderful show! as usual. In Marland I had this with crab cakes instead of ham -it was wonderful! But I do think I’ll try the salmon!

    thanks for all the good times

  • Brian in Bett, IA

    You really need to do this show once a week!

  • heya waz and len! we loved the bickering benedicts. :) shell says that your muffins would get bigger if you let the yeast set and if you boiled (or scalded) the milk first and then let it cool. also, we are very impressed with the rescued sauce. we miss you, as does the rest of edmonton.

  • I love your show. And I sympathize with your muffin making woes. I adore fresh baked bread, but my kitchen is too cold to proof in a reasonable time. A friend told I should create a proofing chamber in my oven. What you do is on the bottom rack in your oven place a 13×9 baking pan. On the middle rack on the oven place your bowl with un-proofed dough, cover with plastic or towel. Boil a kettle of water and pour the boiling water into the 13×9 pan, close the oven door. The steam creates this beautiful environment,warm but not too hot to kill the yeast. I hope you try this because it really has cut down the proofing time in my kitchen. Good luck, and I will be looking forward to new podcasts. PS. if you ever come to Philadelphia, PA I’d be happy to show you all the cool foodie spots!

  • I’ve been watching the show for a while and really enjoy it. I just now made it over to the website. Eggs benedict is one of my favorite breakfast foods, spinach is quite good on them too. I recently tried my hand at making english muffins and had really delicious results from this recipe from the Washington Post:

  • Hi to both of you,

    I just love your podcast and hope that you put out another episode soon. I too, hope you can podcast more often. You are both entertaining and informative. I have lived in Germany and of course the pretzel’s there are terrific. That’s the next recipe of yours that I’m going to try. Best of luck…. pleaseeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee more podcasts :).. Oh, yes.. I wanted to say that your stories about your travels add so much to the podcast and I’d love to hear more. I live in Canada at the moment and I’m moving to Belgium this summer. Can you imagine we had a ton of snow yesterday?? Take care


  • Rabban el Diabolo Blanco di Cabrio Bonno

    Hey guys,great stuff! I’ve just started to get to grips with this wonderful dish though I’ve yet to embark on the mission of home-made muffins.I copied my technique from the web pages of the English kitchen Goddess Delia Smith and enjoyed great success pretty much from the start.having said that the hollandaise was really runny at first,before I whisked up the whites and folded that in,this makes the sauce light and fluffy with the bonus of a stiffer consistencey.
    Its good to see people who take food seriously and its great entertainment too!
    Viva eggs benny!

  • “Wazza’s feeling for dough” – you have outdone yourself this time Waz. Pure gold.

  • Hey really enjoyed the podcast. The best way to do poached eggs is to put them in cling film and boil them. Perfect poached eggs and no the cling film doesn’t melt surprisingly.

    I learnt an amazing shortcut for mayonnaise/ hollandaise from a french chef. Put your eggs on a plate. Stir them with a fork. Then add some of the oil, stir it in fully to the eggs. Once the oil is stirred in you can liberally add more oil and stir with the fork and it won’t matter. This should take you 3 minutes to do. Not sure why this method is not better known.

  • Many thanks for another video, and great save on the hollandaise sauce. I usually resort to that same blender resuscitation on bechamel; works just fine too.

    By the way, semolina is a kind of flour made from a particular part of the wheat grain, not corn.

    Keep it up!

  • Florian from Berlin

    Aspargus season started in Germany – I know, none of you Anglophones get this, but we just love the stuff – so we went to Brandenburg to get some, like straight from the field. It was still quite expensive at 8 Euros a kilo, but the price will go down to less than half of that… I digress.

    However, we prepared it classicly, which means boiled, with boiled potatoes and ham and of course Sauce Hollandaise!

    I used Michel Roux’ recipe, which calls for

    4 yolks (somehow I only used three, don’t know why)
    4 tbs of water
    1 tbs of white wine vinegar
    5 gr of white pepper corns
    250 gr of butter
    juice of 1/2 lemon
    salt to taste

    and against all my expectations it was really quite easy.

    You make an infusion of the water, the vinegar and the pepper, reduce this by a third, let it cool and scoop out the pepper. While this cools, clarify the butter (melt it, scoop off the stuff on top and discard, save the yellow part in the middle and discard the stuff on the bottom).

    Beat the yolks into the cooled infusion. Very gently, while beating heat the mixture, but not higher than 65°C until it’s nice and thick. Switch off the gas or take off the stove. Add the butter first by drops then in a thin stream, all the while still beating until it is incorporated. Add the lemon juice, season with salt.

    By this point my sauce was quite thick, a little thinner than mayonaise and only lukewarm, so I heated it a tiny little bit. With the aspargus it was lovely! Silky smooth, fresh and buttery.

    So my guess is, the splitting is a temperature thing. Many of my cookbooks recommend working in an ice cube, if the sauce splits. So when you heat slowly, and take it off the heat, when you have a nice and firm mixture, there should be no trouble at all. However, the sauce is not steaming hot, so the food it is poured over should be!

    Next time I’ll try it as Sauce Béarnaise with a nice steak and salad.

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