LC Mom Knows Best Note
You may be surprised at just how soulful bread, butter, egg, and salt can taste. If you’re the skeptical sort, trust us. Tasting this childhood classic is believing. Although hearing it’s name may do nothing for you seeing as it goes by so gosh darn many different monikers. It seems everyone whose mom ever made this for them knows it by a different name, whether “toad in a hole” or “funny egg” or, well, you tell us. Let us know in a comment below what you called this growing up. Just don’t expect us to prefer one title over another, seeing as moms—all of ’em—know best.
Egg in a Hole
- Quick Glance
- 10 M
- 20 M
- Serves 1 or 2
Special Equipment: 2- to 3-inch (5- to 8-cm) cookie or biscuit cutter
Preheat your oven to 475°F (245°C).
Make a 2-inch (or thereabouts) hole in the center of each slice of bread using a cookie or biscuit cutter, an overturned glass, or what have you.
In a large ovenproof skillet over medium heat, melt the butter until it’s bubbling but not yet brown. Add the bread and cook until golden brown, maybe 1 to 2 minutes. (Don’t forget to also toss in the little round cut-outs so you have something to dip into the runny yolk.) Flip the bread and carefully crack an egg into each hole. (There may be a little overflow of white onto the bread. As long as you’re not a perfectionist, this is fine.) Quickly sprinkle each slice of bread with 1 tablespoon brown sugar, if desired, being careful to avoid the egg.
Immediately transfer the skillet to the oven to bake. (Don’t try to flip the bread again.) Bake until the egg white sets but the yolk is still runny, 6 to 8 minutes. Begin to check your egg at 4 minutes if you fancy a really runny yolk, as a firm yolk ruins the pleasure of this simple dish.
Lightly sprinkle both bread and egg with fleur de sel. Your egg in a hole is best the moment it emerges from the oven.
- Egg In A Brioche Hole
A fun variation on this would be to use brioche in place of white bread. I think it would taste amazing with the egg and butter. [Editor’s Note: Or challah.]
- Savory Egg In A Hole
For a savory version, substitute 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan for the brown sugar and serve with a little dab of mustard on the side.
- Stovetop Egg In A Hole
If you don’t care to let your egg out of sight, simply flip the bread, add the egg, and finish cooking it on your stovetop. This allows you to keep a watchful eye on the exact doneness of the egg in a hole.
Recipe Testers' Tips
I can't believe that my husband and I have lived our entire lives and have never even heard of egg in a hole, but now that it comes up, it was one of those "Duh!" moments. But of COURSE! We have eggs sunny-side up or over easy with toast every weekend. Combining the two was meant to be.
We cooked ours in an All-Clad square nonstick griddle pan on medium-high heat and could fit 4 slices bread at once. I like the flavor of browned butter, so I browned it first and then added about a teaspoon canola oil to keep the bread from burning. We only had regular sandwich bread in the house, so that's what I used. I cracked an egg into a small bowl first to make it easier to slide the egg into the hole. I have a set of round fluted cookie cutters and just pulled out the one that seemed like it would fit all the egg in there—it was about 3 inches. (In case you're wondering, at the end you can't notice that the bread was cut using a fluted cutter.) I had some overflow of egg white, which was OK. Maybe with some extra-thick brioche there would have been enough vertical space for the egg to fit, but for regular bread I recommend cutting a slightly larger hole. Our eggs took about 8 minutes to set in our convection oven. I should also note that the bread holes did not go to waste—while the eggs were in the oven, I stuck the holes in our toaster oven with a teensy bit of butter, and we used these to dip into the eggs and mop up the runny yolky goodness. Yum! I will say that popping the eggs in the oven made for a picture-perfect presentation, but if you're skilled at flipping food with a spatula, you can finish the cooking process on the stove and skip the oven step. Over direct heat, the eggs should only take another minute or two to finish cooking, depending on how runny you want your yolks.
I made the savory version of this egg in a hole recipe, and it definitely took me back to middle school home economics class, which is where I first learned to make the basic version. I really loved the addition of the Parmesan, fleur de sel, and grainy mustard. Also, the use of brioche instead of regular bread made it seem a lot fancier. This is true comfort food! Will definitely try the sweet version at some point.
Bird in a nest. One-eyed Jack. Eggy toast. Chicken in a basket. Depending on who you ask, every family seems to have had a different name for this egg in a hole breakfast, and its preparation seemed to be exclusively a specialty of the dad. In my house, dad prepared it strictly on the stovetop and flipped the bread to cook both sides. This obscured the pretty yellow yolk. I like this recipe because it not only preserves the egg's appearance, it adds more flavor—be it savory with cheese or sweet with brown sugar. I'm a savory girl, so I used 1 tablespoon Parmesan instead of sugar. The final timing of the finished egg depends much upon how high your stovetop heat is, how thick you slice your bread, and how big the hole. I used a 3/4-inch-thick slice brioche (decadent!). I kept the heat at medium and browned the first side of the bread for 4 minutes to a golden brown. This combination amounted to about another 5 to 6 minutes in the oven for a slightly runny yolk but very dark brown toast. The hot oven method did a super job of getting the cheese golden brown. Not my Dad's version of the recipe, but I might adopt this method as my own.
I used to make egg in a hole for the kids sans sugar. We called them bull's-eyes. However, this recipe is much better! I didn't have brioche, so I used whole-wheat bread. I used a 1 1/2-inch cookie cutter to make the center hole. It took less than 5 minutes on medium to high heat to achieve browned and crisped bread. I used Parmesan cheese instead of brown sugar and popped the eggs in the oven for 7 minutes, which yielded cooked whites and slightly runny yolks. The result was crispy and crunchy bread topped with the perfect egg melded with nutty Parmesan. Perfection!
My herb garden is still in full swing, so I chose the savory route to utilize these flavorful fresh ingredients in the egg in a hole recipe. I sliced some brioche about 1/2 in thick. I replaced the brown sugar with 1 tbsp Parmesan cheese and 1 tsp fresh parsley and finished it off with truffle salt instead of fleur de sel. I utilized a 2-inch tomato paste can to cut the hole in the brioche. I added the butter to the skillet at medium-high and allowed the bread to toast for 2 minutes on the first side, flipped the bread, and then added the egg. I sprinkled a Parmesan and parsley mixture on the bread and egg prior to transferring it to the oven. (Savory on the egg sounded great, so I opted to sprinkle some on too.) I checked the eggs after 4 minutes, turned the oven off, and allowed them to set in the skillet for another 2 minutes. I garnished the egg with fresh rosemary, garlic chives, thyme, and basil chiffonade. We've made this dish in the past on the stovetop and I like the method here of finishing it in the oven. A myriad of herb combos can provide a variety of flavors for this versatile recipe. I served a side of bruschetta along with our egg in a hole.
I tried the variation of this egg in a hole recipe using brioche. I used a cookie cutter to make a hole in the bread. It took about 2 minutes on a high burner to brown one side of the brioche. You need to be careful, as it will burn quickly. The egg took 6 to 8 minutes to set in the oven, although it's quite hard to get it just right so that the white is set but the yolk is runny. I served my egg in a hole with watercress leaves and Parmesan. I will certainly try the recipe again.