My first job after university was in a large accounting firm. The division I worked in used to have 8:00am meetings where staff would take turns in providing training to the rest of the team on a relevant topic. The best thing about these meetings was that they were catered – there was always tea, freshly brewed coffee, a fruit platter, and a selection of sweet and savoury pastries.
Eventually I left the firm because the hours were too crazy and the amount of stress I was under became debilitating. I think many people who work in professional services have had a similar experience. It wasn’t until after I left though that I came to appreciate three things about these meetings:
- I was very fortunate to be receiving training on a regular basis.
- Catered meetings were very much something we used to take for granted prior to the 2007-08 global financial crisis.
- 8:00 am is ridiculously early for a meeting.
One of the things that got me through my years of stress was baking, and something I set out to recreate were the delicious savoury pastries we had at these meetings. They were basically a whole egg baked in a puff pastry case – done as a vegetarian version with spinach, and a non-vegetarian version with bacon. Once I left the firm I had more time to experiment and perfect my recipe, and these pastries are now a staple in our home.
I love making them because I nearly always have the basic ingredients (frozen puff pastry and eggs), it’s a versatile recipe you can add other ingredients to, and they’re fairly quick and easy to make. They’re a lovely treat to make for breakfast, whether it’s a lazy Sunday with your family or the morning after for overnight guests. They’re just as good cold as they are straight from the oven, and can be made the night before.
Best of all, I can now enjoy these in the comfort of my home, without having to worry about going into work on the weekend, and after enjoying a leisurely sleep past 8:00am.
Bacon and Egg Pastries
- Oil for greasing
- Oil for frying
- 40 grams bacon
- 1 sprig parsley
- 1 spring onion stalk
- 1/2 small tomato
- 1 sheet frozen puff pastry
- 4 eggs (see note 2)
- 4 small flecks of butter
- Parmesan cheese
- Cracked pepper
Preheat oven to 190 degrees Celsius fanforced.
Brush oil in four holes of a muffin/cupcake baking tray. This is to prevent the pastry from sticking.
Cut the bacon into small pieces and fry until slightly crispy.
Finely chop the parsley, spring onion and tomato.
Defrost the puff pastry just enough so that it can be cut with a knife (see note 3).
Quarter the pastry sheet so you have four squares.
Cut the squares so it can be shaped into a case. Imagine there is a circle in the middle of the square the same size as the base of the baking tray holes. Cut from the centre of each edge of the pastry square to the edge of the imaginary circle. (Another way to think of it is to cut as if to quarter each square into four smaller squares, but stop before you reach the centre so you end up with four separate cuts.)
Place each pastry square into the baking tray hole. The cuts that have been made will help mould the pastry neatly against the sides of each hole – take a look at the photo to see what I mean.
Place the bacon, parsley, spring onion and tomato in each pastry case.
Crack an egg into each pastry case.
Place a piece of butter on top of each egg. This will melt over the egg when baked, preventing a skin from forming on the top.
Grate over the Parmesan and season with cracked pepper.
Bake in the oven for 15 minutes or until eggs are cooked through. To see if the eggs are done, tap or shake the tray gently. If the egg whites are still wobbly then bake for a bit longer.
- Once the pastries are cool enough to handle twist gently and remove. Serve while warm, or leave to cool on cooling rack (see note 4).
- The pastries can be made with a variety of fillings – use what you have in your fridge. Mushrooms, chives and spinach work well.
- Smaller eggs are better as they cook faster and leave more room for other fillings. I prefer to use the ones that come in the 12 pack 600g cartons.
- Once you take the pastry out of the freezer it’s important to work quickly. If it defrosts too much it won’t hold its shape in the baking tray and will be tricky to handle. You want it to defrost just enough that you can cut and move it around without it snapping, but not so much that its actually thawed.
- If you’re not planning on eating the pastries straight away then allow them to cool completely on a cooling rack before storing. If you store them too soon the trapped heat will cause the pastry to go soggy.
- I don’t normally add salt because I think there’s enough saltiness from the bacon and Parmesan. If you’re not using either of these ingredients then add salt.
- Scruff always eats the pastries with tomato sauce, I always eat them on their own. I have also served them with store-bought tomato relish when I made them for brunch with some girlfriends. All these options are fine, though it’s worth noting Scruff eats nearly everything with tomato sauce and I rarely add sauce to anything. Tomato relish is a bit too fancy for both of us, but it is a nice thing to bring out for guests.