It was supposed to be summer, but instead it was a rainy, cold, dreary day.
When I was growing up, my mother’s poached eggs on toast were my favorite sick-day comfort food. In fact, it’s a great any-day comfort food. Runny yolks and soft-set whites on a bed of buttered toast. It’s the best. On my rainy day, it’s all I wanted for breakfast.
I like making poached eggs on toast for myself, but poaching eggs can be tricky. I don’t like it when the whites spread all over the pan, and I’m not always able to judge when they’re perfectly done. I like the whites cooked, the yolks runny.
Soft boiled eggs, when done properly, also have these elusive qualities. However, their doneness is even harder to judge. But lately I’ve discovered a nearly fool-proof way to make soft-boiled eggs, and now I prefer it to poaching. This is only true when I make it myself. My mother’s poached eggs are always perfect.
What follows is hardly a recipe. It’s more like a list of instructions that result in a simple, hearty, comforting breakfast. The only tricky part is timing. But once that hurdle is conquered, making these perfectly soft-cooked eggs becomes second nature.
You can use any hearty bread here. I had a loaf of my Maple Oat Bread, so I cut two thick slices and put them in the toaster. But I didn’t start toasting yet. I like the toast to be warm, so timing is important.
Next, I set about soft-boiling the eggs. Here’s the interesting process: you don’t actually submerge the eggs. They cook, covered, in about a half inch of simmering water. I learned this technique from an issue of Cook’s Illustrated magazine, and it’s all but foolproof. Normally, the eggs would lower the temperature of the water when submerge within. The time it takes to return to boiling makes it difficult to judge timing. Using steam and simmering water instead of boiling water eliminates these issues. The temperature remains constant, the timing is predictable.
I used a small saucepan. I brought about a half inch of water to a boil, then gently lowered in three eggs, covered them, and set my oven timer for 6 minutes.
I only wanted two eggs for breakfast, but I often cook an extra in case one explodes. As you see in the photo, one did just that and the white oozed out. This didn’t render it inedible, but it cooked harder than the others.
For me, a six-minute egg is perfect. If you want it harder or softer, adjust your timing accordingly.
When the timer started, I started the toast.
When the timer stopped, I turned off the heat, put the whole pan in the sink, removed the lid, and ran cold water into the pan for 30 seconds.
Meanwhile, I buttered the toast and laid it out on a plate.
I then gently peeled the eggs and laid one on each piece of toast. Then came the fun part. I squished each egg into the toast. This is when you get to see how perfectly the eggs cooked. The sunny yellow yolks and sunny yellow plate couldn’t help but lift my rainy day mood.
I sprinkled the eggs with a little salt and sat down to a soul satisfying breakfast. The rain didn’t stop, but as I sopped up yolks with buttered toast, I certainly felt better about the world.