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Crown Jewel Croque Madame

Take the throne with this extra cheesy crown jewel croque madame! 🧀🏰

Serves: 2


The Béchamel

20 grams unsalted butter

20 grams plain flour

350 millilitres whole milk

100 grams Tickler Cheddar cheese, grated

½ tablespoon Dijon mustard

A pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

The Croque Madames

4 slices thick granary bread

30 grams unsalted butter

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

175g Tickler Cheddar cheese, grated

4 slices smoked ham

2 eggs

Vegetable oil, for frying

Salt and freshly ground black pepper


1. Start by making the béchamel sauce. In a saucepan, melt the butter over a medium heat. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for one minute. Add the milk gradually, stirring constantly. Once all the milk has been added, let the mixture come to the boil and cook for a further two minutes until thick and creamy. Turn off the heat and add the cheese, mustard, and nutmeg. Taste, season, and set aside.

2. Butter the slices of bread on both sides; add a teaspoon of Dijon mustard to each slice and spread evenly to the edges. Lay two slices of ham on one side of each of the sandwich halves, followed by 3–4 generous tablespoons of the cheesy béchamel sauce (depending on the size of your bread), being careful not to have it spill over the edge. Add a large handful of the grated cheese (approximately 50g each) on top of this, reserving two small handfuls (approximately 35g each) for the cheese crowns. Top the sandwiches with the other two buttered slices of bread.

3. Preheat one large or two small frying pans over a medium-low heat. If you’d like to serve the sandwiches at the same time, two pans is recommended. Place the sandwich in the pan with no additional oil and cook for 1–2 minutes on each side, flipping carefully halfway through cooking when each side is golden brown and crisp. When the sandwich has been cooked on both sides, remove it from the pan and set aside on a plate.

4. In the same pans you were using, sprinkle an even layer over the base of the pan with the remaining Tickler Cheddar cheese. Leave it to bubble and cook for 1–2 minutes until it appears to be solidifying and you can start to smell the cheese caramelising. At this point, dab the surface of the bubbling cheese quickly with some kitchen towel, then place one side of the sandwich in the centre — the remaining fat will help it adhere. Using a long wide spatula or fish slice, quickly and assertively release the sandwich from underneath on one side (you will likely have a 3-sided crown as your final product — don’t worry!). Once you’ve lifted the sandwich, the crown should follow and drape down. Hover in the air with the sandwich on the spatula for 10–15 seconds before flipping onto a plate with the crispy cheese crown facing up, which will help the cheese set in the right shape.

5. Back to the pans you were using, add 1–2 tablespoons of vegetable oil and fry the eggs for 1–2 minutes over a medium heat until the white is set and the yolk is still runny. Add 1–2 tablespoons of béchamel to the top of the sandwich inside the crown, place the cooked eggs on top, season with salt and pepper, and enjoy!