Martha Collison takes brunch up a level by mastering the perfect hollandaise sauce.
- Prepare5 mins
- Cook10 mins
- Total time15 mins
Place the egg yolks into a medium-sized glass bowl and half-fill a small saucepan with boiling water. Make sure the bowl containing the yolks will fit snugly inside the saucepan without touching the water, as this would cause the yolks to overheat.
Melt the butter in a small saucepan, then reduce the heat down to its lowest setting to keep warm.
Add the lemon juice and mustard to the egg yolks with a pinch of salt. Use a balloon whisk to mix it all together, then place the bowl over the saucepan of water. Whisk vigorously for 1 minute over a low heat so the eggs begin to cook and thicken slightly.
Use a tablespoon measure to drizzle 1 tbsp of the warm butter into the egg yolks, whisking continuously. Continue to add the butter spoon by spoon, whisking well before each addition, until it is all incorporated. You should be left with a thick, silky smooth sauce (see my tips for how to rescue it if it starts to split).
Add 1 tsp water to loosen the sauce and season to taste with extra salt and lemon juice. The sauce can be kept warm over the pan of warm water (off the heat) while you prepare the rest of your dish. Serve with poached eggs on toast, on al dente asparagus or with pan-fried white fish.
My hollandaise has split
Hollandaise sauce is a carefully balanced emulsion of egg yolk and butter, and it can easily split if it gets too hot or isn’t whisked quickly enough. If your sauce does split, don’t despair. Here are two ways to fix it:
Have an ice cube on hand. As soon as you notice the sauce begin to split, remove the bowl from the heat and whisk in an ice cube. This should bring down the temperature and the mixture will re-emulsify.
Crack a fresh egg yolk into a clean bowl. Remove the split mixture from the heat and gradually and slowly pour into the new yolk, whisking constantly. You’ll find any lumps will disappear and you’ll regain a beautifully smooth sauce.
I recommend making your hollandaise just before eating, although it is possible to make it the day before. Tip from the bowl into a shallow dish to help it cool quickly, then cover and chill once cold. To reheat, empty into a small saucepan with 1 tbsp water. Heat and stir over as low a temperature as possible, until just warmed through, to avoid scrambling the egg yolk.
Hollandaise sauce contains a lot of butter, which is why using unsalted is wise, as you can control the seasoning with more care. Salted will still work, but you may need to add more lemon juice to balance the flavour, and use slightly less on your plate.