Ed Smith on why Flour Station's award-winning muffins make the perfect eggs benedict
Words and images: Ed Smith
Eggs benedict, eggs royale and eggs florentine: these classic brunch dishes are the kind of menu item your eyes keep returning to, no matter that you’d pre-determined you were going to be healthy and just have the granola, or how tempted you are by the full English.
What is it that pulls you in? The prospect of a poached egg with oozing yolk? The silky hollandaise cloaking that egg? The ham, smoked salmon or spinach lying underneath them?
For me, it’s the English muffin.
Now, I’m very keen on a slice of good sourdough toast. But there’s something about a well-toasted muffin: golden and crisp on top, soft and bouncy within. It’s got the structural integrity to take buckets and buckets of butter and egg yolk, while at the same time yielding and dreamy to bite into. A good muffin is an occasional treat, yet one that’s very familiar.
Proud columns of pale white
The Flour Station’s English muffins have stood out from the crowd for some time now. They sit proudly in golden-topped, proud columns of pale white; at least 50 per cent bigger in diameter and probably twice as thick as your common or garden muffin.
Understandably, the Flour Station (whose stall in the Green Market is open every Thursday, Friday and Saturday) won’t share their secrets, though we do know they bake an enriched, milky white dough and hand griddle the end result to ensure that lovely, alluring flat brown top.
I can assure you these are the best muffins you’ll find on sale anywhere—but you don’t need to take my word for it, as they were named as one of Britain’s top 50 food products in the 2016 Great Taste awards. The list was announced on the 6th August, and noted that the judges agreed that they are “the perfect vehicle for all sorts of toppings, or smothered in butter”.
Benedict, royale and florentine
No arguments from me about that. Though, when thinking about muffins and what you might put on top of them, it’s hard to turn from the benedict, royale and florentine, isn’t it?
The problem with that is it’s one thing ordering a poached egg, hollandaise and muffin combo at a restaurant, and another one pulling those things together while in a daze on a Saturday morning. Frankly, there’s no better way to guarantee a terrible weekend than spending the first 30 minutes of it creating a massive batch of split hollandaise sauce, chucking it away, and then messing up the poached eggs too.
I prefer to soft boil eggs and skin them (easier than poaching eggs when there’s more than one person too), and cheat with the hollandaise, by topping those soft boiled eggs with Greek yoghurt that I’ve flavoured with something interesting.
Biscuity brown butter
Try, for example, mixing nutty, biscuity brown butter and a squeeze of lemon into the yoghurt. It’s a foolproof alternative to hollandaise, yet has all the best bits of butter, a sharpness, and doesn’t feel too heavy once you’ve finished, either.