From the Tate Etc. archive, chef Frances Atkins takes inspiration from Cedric Morris’s The Eggs 1944 for a recipe for boiled eggs and brioche

  • Sir Cedric Morris, Bt, 'The Eggs' 1944
    Sir Cedric Morris, Bt
    The Eggs 1944
    Oil on canvas
    unconfirmed: 615 x 432 mm
    Presented by Elizabeth David CBE 1992© The estate of Sir Cedric Morris

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 presevatives 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 frangrance 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 at room temperature). Mix into dough and leave to prove in the fridge overnight. Remove from fridge, knead and shape and plaace into two 8in loaf tins that have been lined with silicone paper. Leave to prove until double in size. Place in hot oven at 200c for 10 mins and then drop temperature to 180c for a further 15 mins 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.

This article appears in issue 26 of Tate Etc. magazine 
Subscribe here