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Sprottled eggs

This simple preparation is versatility itself, excellent for a special breakfast, light lunch or rich starter. The inclusion of anchovy gives the egg a subtle tang that is not fishy in the least. You will need a ramekin of appropriate dimensions for each egg. This recipe is adapted from What To Eat Now by Valentine Warner (London 2008).

Lifting Eggs

-unsalted butter
-heavy cream
-an egg
-a salt anchovy, rinsed and coarsely chopped
-coarse salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 350°

  1. Grease each ramekin with butter and pour about half an inch of cream into each one.
  2. Break an egg into the cream, then gently add enough more cream barely to cover the yolk; be careful not to break it open.
  3. Dot the cream surrounding the yolk with two dabs of butter and the anchovy, and sprinkle on a very little salt (the anchovy has plenty) and a generous grind of pepper.
  4. Put the ramekin(s) in a shallow tray filled with half an inch of boiling water and bake just until the white sets but the yolk stays runny, about 15 minutes.


It is essential to serve sprottled eggs with toast, English muffins or crumpets (best of all).

Warner wryly comments that “[i]f you are not a fan of anchovies, simply remove them from the recipe and send them to me.” (What 142) That, however, defeats the purpose of the dish.

Warner specifies the use of two anchovies for each egg; we found that that much of the fish overwhelmed rather than enhanced the flavor of our egg.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines ‘sprottle’ as to sprawl, struggle or twitch, which is what the egg does in this dish. The term does not appear in American dictionaries.