(Video links HERE.)  This Sunday, we’ll celebrate Spring and Easter with a perfect, simple, of-the-season breakfast: soft-boiled eggs with toast soldiers, and good coffee, inspired by Ellen Silverman‘s Girl with Egg.

All we need is three ingredients, but they should be the best possible: good bread, butter and farm eggs (along with some sea salt).

Making a perfect soft-boiled egg, with a firm-but-tender white and runny yolk, is one of those cooking processes that can elude success Since eggs are a really sensitive substance, differences in temperature, altitude and egg size can throw calculations off a bit. We did a study of soft-boiled eggs to figure out a technique that really pays off.

We’re not worrying about egg cups. We’ve got the thrift store ones we hand-dulled years ago (which Ellen used in her video).

Sally Schneider

But if you don’t have a proper egg cup, there are any number of things lying around your house that will do the trick (ideas here.)

Ellen Silverman

We haven’t yet decided which bread we’ll use: a Pullman white, or brioche or more rustic loaf like a giabbata or fermented sour-dough country bread.

While the eggs are boiling we’ll grill bread on our stove top (a toaster will do), butter it, and cut them into thin strips, to make toast soldiers, perfect for dunking in the soft yolk.

Kiss My Spatula

As we gently crack the top of the shell with a knife, we’ll think of M.F.K Fishers great observation:

Probably one of the most private things in the world is an egg before it is broken.

Ellen Silverman

Method: Perfect Soft-Boiled Eggs 

This is the best way to cook a real, truly fresh egg if you’re lucky enough to get hold of some and want to experience the pure flavor of egg. I recommend accompanying the eggs with toast soldiers, buttered toast that is sliced into 1-inch rectangles for dipping into the yolk. The next best thing is popcorn.

If you follow this method, however, you’ll have a high record of success. Once you’ve done it one or two times, you’ll figure out the perfect timing to achieve the consistency of egg you like.

You can do this with as many eggs as you can fit roomily, in one layer, in the bottom of a saucepan, though more than 4 eggs may require slightly longer cooking time.


Put the eggs in a bowl of hot tap water for about 5 minutes to warm them. Use this time for slicing bread for toast soldiers and getting the other elements ready, such as butter and a knife for spreading it, as you’ll want to need to move quickly once the eggs start cooking.

Fill a saucepan with enough water to cover the eggs by about one inch and bring to a boil.

Set a timer for 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, carefully lower the eggs into the water as you turn the flame down to a simmer or very low boil. Start the timer. (Do not allow the water to boil as it toughens the white and jostles the eggs so they crack).

When the eggs are done, remove them from the water with a slotted spoon and run cold tap water briefly over them to stop the cooking. Blot each egg with a tea towel as you place it point-side-up in an egg cup. You’ll have about 30 to 40 seconds once the eggs are in their cups before they’ll start to overcook. Butter and the toast soldiers if you haven’t already. Arrange some around each egg and serve at once.

To eat a soft-boiled egg, use a dinner knife to cut off the top 1/2 inch of shell. Add sea salt and pepper to taste and eat with a teaspoon.

Ellen Silverman

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