This is my take on my husband Mick’s all-time favourite breakfast dish, Eggs Benedict. It features my mum’s scones (the best on the planet), fried quail eggs and the best old-school condiment from my childhood, Heinz Salad Cream, instead of hollandaise. Trust me: the result is delicious. Fried quail eggs usually elicit lots of ‘oooohs’ and ‘aaaahs’ from people, as they look ridiculously cute and teeny-tiny, yet oh-so-perfectly formed.
3 1/3 cups (500g) plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp sea salt
120g chilled butter, cubed
20g caster sugar
2 free-range eggs, 1 beaten, 1 mixed with 1 tbsp milk
8 slices mild pancetta, very finely sliced
Olive oil, for frying
24 quail eggs
1/3 cup (80ml) Heinz Salad Cream
Tabasco sauce or similar hot sauce, to taste
Sea salt + freshly ground black pepper
Thyme leaves, to garnish
Preheat the oven to 180˚C fan-forced. Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda, cream of tartar and salt into a large mixing bowl. Rub in the butter with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the sugar and mix well to incorporate.
Combine the beaten egg and milk in a jug, then add to the bowl and mix to just bring together. Turn out onto a floured worktop and knead gently to form a light dough. Using a floured rolling pin, roll out the dough to a thickness of about 2 cm. Cut out scones using a 3 cm round cutter, then roll out the scraps and repeat until all the dough is used up; you should have twenty-four scones. Place the scones on a floured baking tray and brush with the eggwash. Bake for 10–12 minutes or until golden brown, then set aside on a wire rack to cool.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the pancetta for 5 minutes or until crisp. Drain on paper towel, patting off any excess oil. Tear into twenty-four pieces about the same size as the scones, then
Place 2 tablespoons olive oil in a non-stick frying pan and, working in batches (you should be able to fit eight eggs in a standard-sized frying pan), fry the quail eggs over very low heat for about 5–7 minutes, until the whites are cooked but the yolks are still bright yellow and runny (adding more oil to the pan as needed). Transfer the fried eggs to a plate then, if you like, you can shape them with the same round cutter you used for the scones.
Combine the salad cream with a dash or two of Tabasco sauce and set aside.
Carefully slice off the very top of each scone and discard, then place the bases on a serving platter and top with pancetta, a fried quail egg and a small dollop of the salad cream mixture.
Serve with a sprinkle of salt and pepper, and garnish with thyme.