If you've ever been to one of Dominique Ansel's bakeries, then you'll know that the chef doesn't do things by halves. In this recipe, he puts a twist on the classic croque monsieur by bathing the sourdough slices in a savoury custard, before adding a layer of the béchamel sauce, black forest ham and gruyère cheese. After you try this, you'll never look at plain old cheese toasties the same way again.


For the béchamel:

  • 236ml milk
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 228g grated gruyère cheese

For the custard:

  • 950ml milk
  • 4 large eggs
  • Pinch onutmeg
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the sandwich:

  • 228g sliced gruyère cheese
  • 454g black forest ham, sliced
  • 8 slices of sourdough bread


  1. Preheat oven to 175°C.
  2. Make the béchamel sauce. In a pot, warm the milk (make sure it doesn't boil).
  3. In a separate saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add in the flour and whisk until smooth. Cook for 30 seconds over medium heat until the mixture becomes dough-like.
  4. Stream the warm milk into the butter-flour mixture in three increments, whisking continuously until smooth. Let boil for 1 minute.
  5. Stir in the shredded gruyère cheese, mixing until the cheese has melted. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then pour the mixture into a shallow dish, cover in plastic and place in fridge to let cool for about 2-3 hours.
  6. Make the custard. In a large bowl, combine 4 cups of milk and a pinch of nutmeg, whisk in 4 large eggs and season with salt and pepper to taste. Let cool in the fridge.
  7. To assemble the sandwich, dip each slice of bread in the custard. Spread a layer of the béchamel sauce on one slice of bread, add 4 slices of ham, 2 slices of gruyère, top with another slice of bread. On the top, spread another layer of béchamel and finish with 2 more slices of gruyère. Bake in oven for 10 minutes until the cheese is golden brown.