Head chef at the Yorke Arms, Ramsgill, north Yorkshire, Frances Atkins reflects on this work from the Tate collection and shares her inspired recipe for boiled eggs and brioche. What will you be cooking up this Easter?
After I had the pleasure of enjoying this picture, I found out that it was gifted to Tate by Elizabeth David. She brought colour and sunshine into what was then a dull and unimaginative culinary world. For me, she has been an inspiration. This picture asks you to cook and create. The egg is the beginning, the promise of good things to come, and signifies nature’s beauty in its purity and its simple state. It is the essence of a culinary creation. I do not like the use of chemicals and preservatives in food, because it changes the form which nature intended. The pleasure of plucking a natural and beautiful ingredient and having the skill to serve it to an appreciative audience is a gift that I, like others, am fortunate to have and to love. I therefore need to work in a country environment to feel this inspiration. The fragrance and colours of wild lilac in the Yorkshire hedgerows followed by the heather hues on the moor are the choreography of my life, which is represented by The Eggs.
Boiled eggs and brioche
500g white flour, 10g salt, 50g sugar, 25g yeast, 75g water, 250g butter, 5 eggs
Sieve flour and salt together. Combine yeast and sugar into water. Whisk eggs. Mix all together. Cut butter into small pieces (butter should be room temperature). Mix into dough and leave to prove in the fridge overnight. Remove from fridge, kneed and shape and place into two 8in loaf tins that have been lined with silicone paper. Leave to prove until double in size. Place in hot oven at 200°C for 10mins and then drop temperature to 180°C for a further 15mins until it looks well-cooked (to ensure it is cooked in the middle). Remove from oven, tap the base for hollow sound and cool on a rack.
Place eggs in cold water, bring to the boil. Simmer for 2–2½ minutes. Remove from the water and serve immediately in an egg cup. Slice the brioche into fingers and serve.