An ode to eggs...

"An egg is always an adventure, the next one may be different."
- Oscar Wilde

The humble egg: one of the most versatile of ingredients, or a meal within itself.

I love eggs; breakfast, lunch and dinner, or any time of day.

Unless you're a chicken, eggs always come first. The start of life, your day and without a doubt, in baking.

They proudly perch on top of your shopping bag. A balancing act demanding your respect, for if you forget they will slyly roll off your kitchen counter as soon as you turn your back on them. Never let Humpty Dumpty sit on the wall. Eggs need to be coddled and handled with care.

"An egg demands a little respect before it yields itself, loosens up its silky insides, and draws its neighbours in.
But once granted a little kindness, the egg is the workhouse of the culinary world."
- Michelle Wilden
British Lion Eggs have the only code of practice within the UK that sees 90% of the UK's eggs are produced to the highest of standards. It covers the whole production chain, from breeding to end product. All flocks of hens have a passport that ensures they can be traced as well as their food and the farms they come from. Each British Lion quality egg is stamped with a unique code that can be entered on www.lioneggfarms.co.uk so that you can trace it back to the farm it came from and their method of production.

And my favourite part, all the girls are happy British hens. The code of practice is in place to ensure that all hatcheries are clean, handlers follow higher standards of welfare than required by law and that all flocks are vaccinated against Salmonella.
A recipe for brownie fudge pie, with hazelnut shortcrust pastry

A decadently rich brownie baked inside a case of sweet hazelnut shortcrust. I like to layer the pastry case with chopped dark chocolate and pecans before pouring over the brownie mix to help intensify the fudgyness.

The basis of many recipes is the same. Flour, eggs, water and butter. It's the gluten content that allows these same ingredients to take on many different forms, from doughnuts to bread and pastry.

Gluten is a form of protein that gives a dough elasticity. Bread is made from a dough with a high amount of gluten and elasticity whereas, pastry is made with less gluten to make it light and airy. This is why its much harder to roll out and shape than bread.

Eggs are used in pastry making for this protein and yolks especially to help enrich the flavour of the dough. In the initial steps, the butter is coated in flour to ensure that the liquid is kept inside and gluten formation is reduced.

Hazelnut shortcrust pastry

250g plain flour
50g icing sugar
50g ground hazelnuts
a pinch of salt
150g unsalted butter, cold
2 egg yolks
15ml cold water

In a large bowl place the flour, sugar, hazelnuts, salt and butter. Rub the mix between your fingertips ensuring to break down all pieces of butter. Stir in the egg yolks and water until a soft dough is formed. Wrap in clingfilm and chill for 30 minutes.

Ensuring that the pastry is cool, roll out to 1/2cm thick on a floured work surface. Roll it onto the rolling pin and unroll over a large tart case. Use a small ball of dough to gently ease the edges into the tin. Chill the pastry case for a further 30 minutes.

Heat the oven to 180 degrees. Place a sheet of baking paper or kitchen foil over the pastry case and half fill with baking beans. Bake for 25 minutes, remove from the oven and carefully remove the liner and beans. Bake for a further 10 minutes at 170 degrees or until the base is just barely cooked.

Pecan brownie filling

3 large eggs
300g soft light brown sugar
1tsp vanilla extract
175g unsalted butter, melted
50g plain flour
50g cocoa powder
50g chopped pecans
50g dark chocolate, chopped

Beat the eggs and sugar together until foamy. Stir in the vanilla and melted butter. Add the flour and cocoa powder and fold until just barely combined. Scatter the chopped nuts and chocolate over the shortcrust base before pouring the filling over.

Bake for 30 minutes at 180 degrees. Once removed from the oven, there should be a slight wobble, this will firm as the brownie filling cools.

Once cooled, I drizzled with some melted chocolate. You can also dust over some cocoa powder or icing sugar and serve slightly warmed with ice cream.
A recipe for lemon curd, from Michel Roux's Eggs

This book is the ultimate guide for all things eggs. Chapter by chapter, Michel takes you through each style of cooking eggs alongside many of his brilliant recipes.

After having some leftover egg yolks from making meringue in the week I decided to try his recipe for lemon curd.

Lemon curd

200g unsalted butter, diced
200g caster sugar
grated zest and juice of 3 lemons
4 egg yolks

Place the butter, sugar, zest and juice into a heatproof bowl. Stand over a saucepan of barely simmering water and leave for a few minutes for the butter to melt. Whisk the mixture until completely smooth.

Add the egg yolks and whisk vigorously for 10 minutes, or until the mixture begins to thicken. Pour the curd into small jars, cover with cling film and chill in the fridge.

Curds are a great addition to any recipe or just spread over toast for breakfast, just the way I like mine!
Other egg-citing recipes from Sophie Loves Food

Raspberry and rose pavlova
Chocolate macarons
Strawberry and elderflower chiffon cake

Find more British Lion Egg recipes here http://www.eggrecipes.co.uk

P.s. I was asked to write this post on behalf of British Lion Eggs. However, all views are my own...I really do love eggs and happy hens. And I am thrilled to be able to track my eggs online!

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