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Croque madame

Lesley Holdship

A celebratory spin on the classic French ham, cheese and egg brunch dish

Recipe Meta


20 mins


20 mins






  • 25g butter
  • 25g plain flour
  • 250ml milk
  • 125g comté (or other French mountain cheese), grated
  • 40-50cm baguette
  • 4 thin slices of ham, jambon de Paris or prosciutto cotto, for example
  • 4 eggs


Heat the oven to 180C. Line a baking sheet with some parchment to help with the washing up.

First of all, make a silky cheese sauce. Melt the butter and then stir in the flour to make a roux. Gently cook until the roux is sizzling, then pour in the milk, whisking all the while. Use your wooden spoon to collect all the roux from the corners of the pan, still whisking frantically!

Cook until the sauce is gently bubbling, still stirring and whisking, and then bubble for a few minutes until the taste of the flour disappears. Add the cheese, bar around 25g, stirring it in well, then season generously with salt and lots of black pepper. Remove the sauce from the heat and set aside.

Cut four holes, around 5cm in diameter, into the top of the baguette. Remove the crust and then hollow out a little of the soft bread. Make sure that you don’t cut straight down through the crust below. Line the holes with the ham slices.

Break open the eggs and let around half of the white fall away. (Perhaps keep the reserved whites for making macaroons or meringues). Carefully slide a yolk into each hammy cavity. Spoon the sauce over the top, being as generous as you dare!

Bake the baguette for 12 mins until bubbling.

Cut into four portions and serve with a chilled pastis or biere blond.

Image: John Holdship