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Poached eggs are pretty much the same now as they were in the medieval period, but where we now might serve them with hollandaise sauce, they apparently used a sauce very similar to crem anglais (soft custard). The ginger makes the sauce a bit strong on its own, but with the eggs it's tempered down to a perfect level.


2 egg yolks
1/2 cup milk
1 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. ginger
pinch saffron
pinch salt


In a small saucepan, whisk together egg yolks, sugar, and spices. Add milk and whisk well. Place the pan over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly. Remove from heat when the sauce is thick and just starting to boil. Serve hot over poached eggs.

Source [Forme of Cury, S. Pegge (ed.)]: Pochee. XX.IIII. X. Take Ayrenn and breke hem in scaldyng hoot water. and whan þei bene sode ynowh. take hem up and take zolkes of ayren and rawe mylke and swyng hem togydre, and do þerto powdour gyngur safroun and salt, set it ouere the fire, and lat it not boile, and take ayrenn isode & cast þe sew onoward. & serue it forth.

Source [Forme of Cury, S. Pegge (ed.)]: XXXVIII - FOR TO MAKE A PENCHE OF EGGES. Tak water and do it in a panne to the fyre and lat yt sethe and after tak eggs and brek hem and cast hem in the water and after tak a chese and kerf yt on fowr partins and cast in the water and wanne the chese and the eggys ben wel sodyn tak hem owt of the water and wasch hem in clene water and tak wastel breed and temper yt wyth mylk of a kow. and after do yt over the fyre and after forsy yt wyth gyngener and wyth comyn and colowr yt wyth safroun and lye yt wyth eggys and oyle the sewe wyth Boter and kep wel the chese owt and dresse the sewe and dymo eggys thereon al ful and kerf thy chese in lytyl schyms and do hem in the sewe wyth eggys and serve yt forthe.

Source [Ouverture de Cuisine, Daniel Myers (trans.)]: To make lombard eggs in many ways. Take a dozen egg yolks, & beat them with a reumer of Spanish wine, a little butter, & sugar, & put them in a small pot on the fire, until it starts to thicken a little, it is always good to break with a skimmer that it becomes like a thick porridge, then serve on a plate.

Source [Two Fifteenth-Century Cookery-Books, T. Austin (ed.)]: Eyron en poche. Take Eyroun, breke hem, an sethe hem in hot Water; than take hem Vppe as hole as thou may; than take flowre, an melle with Mylke, & caste ther-to Sugre or Hony, & a lytel pouder Gyngere, an boyle alle y-fere, & coloure with Safroun; an ley thin Eyroun in dysshys, & caste the Sewe a-boue, & caste on pouder y-now. Blawnche pouder ys best.

Source [Wel ende edelike spijse (Good and noble food), C. Muusers (trans.)]: Poached eggs with "cumin sauce". Take saffron and bread, pound together and temper with milk. Strain, bring to the boil, add salt, and put the poached eggs in.

Published: December 6, 2002

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