How is THIS accomplished?

It looks like an ordinary savory muffin. Cheese and herbs and all that, baked in a popover pan of some sort…

rebelmuffin1

…but cut it open and there’s a perfectly cooked soft boiled egg in the middle. Both lovely AND delicious.

rebelmuffin2

My sister and brother-in-law brought me this from St. Louis this past weekend and I’m fascinated. The egg is not only perfectly cooked, it’s almost perfect in shape. That seems to rule out a raw egg dropped into a mass of batter. But then maybe not.

Could the egg have been prepared (possibly sous vide) to the perfect temperature (about 150 degrees Fahrenheit), shelled, then inserted into the dough prior to baking? Possible, especially if the baking temperature was high and the heat didn’t have time to penetrate to the very center (thus overcooking the yolk) before the outside baked.

Hmm…any other theories? I’d like to make these sometime, as they are excellent.

63 thoughts on “How is THIS accomplished?”

    1. Believe me, it was. I love the concept of this all-in-one breakfast on the go. Very American, but in a classier way!

      Cheers and thanks.

      – Joe

  1. I find sous vide eggs to have an odd textured white so unless the whites in the above muffin had that same texture I suspect the eggs were soft boiled to an under cooked stage, cooled in an ice bath, carefully peeled and then placed carefully in the muffin mix in the tins when pouring before baking. The smaller the egg the shorter the boiling time. This is the method used in England when making scotch eggs where a runny yolk middle is prized and a sign of a good chef.

    1. Hey Soupçon.

      Interesting that you’d comment on the texture of sous vide eggs. What do you think is odd about the texture, since I can’t quite put my finger on it.

      Many thanks!

      – Joe

      1. Hi Joe
        My son likes to sous vide eggs for breakfast which I have learned to refuse as the whites are not set quite as firmly as a boiled or poached egg with a runny yolk. He says that if he cooked the whites to the same firm state the yolks would be firm also but not set to the hard boiled stage.

        1. Interesting. I need to fiddle around with that more. Mrs. Pastry loves to make fun of me cooking eggs sous vide. “At last technology has advanced to the point that we can cook a two minute egg in only three hours!”

          I never heard the end of it.

          – Joe

  2. Nice!

    Yes, the way the dough is compressed around the yolk suggests that your theory is correct, the mold is filled 50% before the soft-boiled egg is “plopped” lovingly into place, then covered with batter. What will they think of next? Reesse’s Peanut Butter Cups?

  3. They kind of look like a muffin version of a scotch egg. Maybe look at recipes for ideas?

    1. Thanks Sara! Apparently there’s a fair amount written on these. Have a look at what some other readers submitted. Pretty cool!

      – Joe

  4. Joe,

    I don’t know that you need to sous vide the egg. Rather, if you simply soft-boil it, and chill it, shelling it at some point along the way, you’d have a solid object with a pretty wide window for baking, since it would take additional time for the heat to penetrate to the center. The fact that it comes to you after it’s cooled indicates that even with the full baking and carry-over, the center never gets above 150* F or so, which is why I suspect the chilled egg to start. It kind of reminds me of a Scotch Egg, which is one of my favorite treats.

    Best,
    Chris R

    1. You were exactly right, Chris. Turned out I was overthinking it. Many thanks for the expert comment!

      – Joe

  5. I’ve accidentally had eggs partially freeze in the shell when our fridge was acting up, fried them anyway and they came out perfectly. Possibly a frozen (or partially frozen) egg placed in the center of the batter, then baked until the right temp? Was there a tiny thermometer hole in the muffin? I think your theory is more likely correct though. Mine would turn out a dry muffin, I think, since I’d assume a lower baking temp to make sure the yolk got at least slightly thickened. Let us know when you perfect a home version, sir!

    1. Hey Jeannine!

      Thanks for the good thinking. Come back to the blog and check out some of the articles that other readers submitted. You’ll be impressed with how simple these really are!

      Cheers,

      – Joe

  6. Random thoughts to a curious problem:

    Mysterious insides for baked goods often come about by freezing the filling. I think that eggs don’t freeze well though, so that is likely off the mark in this case.

    The most cheating way would be to slice off the top of the cooked muffin, scoop out some insides, plop the cooked egg in… then spread a little batter on the sliced edges as a glue, and bake until the batter is set. Maybe you could heat the torn portions of the muffin with a blowtorch to speed the baking process. That is, slice the top off the cooked muffin. Plop egg into hollowed middle. Heat sliced muffin edges with a blowtorch/heating element. Spread a small amount of raw batter on the heated surfaces, seal, and bake until set.

    Kenji Lopez-Alt has a method for poached eggs where he drains the more liquidy white part of the raw egg off using a fine mesh strainer. I’d guess you’d need to do that if the egg is going into the batter raw before baking the whole shebang together. It might prevent the egg white from combining with the batter at the edges.

    I’m fascinated to see if you come up with a solution!

    1. Hey Mari!

      Seems that at least one other blogger beat me to it — and with plain ol’ boiling! Amazing what can be achieved with the plain ol’ tools of the trade! Check out some of the articles, you’ll be impressed!

      Cheers,

      – Joe

      1. That’s cool! I had no idea that you could peel an egg with such a runny center. Now I want to try these. Wonder if I can find some time somewhere in my schedule…

  7. I think it’s sous vide for the win. Or magic eggs where the shell melts when you cook it.

    1. Hey Darren!

      I would have sworn that myself, but from what readers are submitting it seems like just plain ol’ boiled eggs! Who knew?

      Thanks!

      – Joe

  8. Seems to be what all the cool people are doing these days:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pZbSw8hRQoY
    http://cookingstoned.tv/recipe/egg-baked-inside-muffin/

    Your popover pan muffin looks better, it really does need the height. And your egg is more of a soft boiled egg than the others. I wonder if the one you ate started the baking process with a chilled batter, rather than a room temperature batter. Would that make a difference in the final product? Or would it just mess up the rise? Interesting idea. (But I think I’ll take my eggs scrambled, and on the side.)

    1. Apparently!

      I’m starting to feel embarrassed that I had yet to hear about them! But yes I’d think that a cool batter would indeed make a difference. These are clearly something I need to try!

      – Joe

    1. Great stuff, Rob! Great insights on how these came to be. Undercooked hardboiled eggs indeed!

      My only problem is the name source. I can’t take Hank III. I saw that tour (he warmed up for Beck that year) and I was amazed at the know quality of the show. “Spoiled rich kid” I thought. Of course I was one of those myself, so maybe his schtick was just too familiar. Anyway, thanks for a great article!

      – Joe

  9. I think it would have to be something like that. I can’t see any other way to get the white to hold its shape unless it’s set before it goes into the muffin, unless they’ve come up with some kind of really fancy dissolving membrane holding it in place temporarily – which I suppose is possible, but it seems unlikely. The egg might be chilled before it goes into the batter to slow down heat absorption into the yolk? But I’m not sure if that would affect the muffin.

    (And the thought of parboiled eggs undergoing further cooking makes me think I should make tea eggs again….)

    1. Hey Jane!

      Yes that was the first thing I thought: if it was a raw egg then it wouldn’t be so perfect, unless the batter was a REALLY loose liquid. Still even then you’d expect a few rough edges. Hmm…thanks, Jane!

      – Joe

  10. I think you are right that the egg was cooked first, though I don’t think a sous vide is necessary. I think Heston Blumenthal did something similar with scotch eggs and there’s a great video of a similar process on Cooking with Dog on YouTube making scotch eggs with a runny yolk. The former would sous v

    1. Hey August!

      Yes that’s my guess…I was surprised at an Italian Eastern bread I did last year, even though the egg were completely exposed to air in the oven they didn’t necessary cook through. If that’s not even true of hot oil, then I clearly have some experimenting to do!

      And I haven’t thought about Cooking with Dog in forever. I’m going to watch some of those today!

      Cheers,

      – Joe

  11. I don’t have a direct answer but I deep-fry soft-poached eggs double-coated in breadcrumbs. Lovely crispy crust with a soft yolk interior. The trick is to poach instead of boiling because that allows you to control how soft the eggs are, whilst keeping them easy to handle. Once dried for 10-15 minutes, it would certainly be possible to drop them into muffin batter. Deep-frying does not over-cook the eggs, so a short muffin bake might do the same.

    I’ll have a go and let you know.

    1. Hey Martin!

      Very interesting indeed. This fascinates me so I’ll be curious to know what your findings are!

      Cheers,

      – Joe

      1. Made them this weekend. Poached the eggs until soft on Saturday (had to trim them a little), chilled them, then on Sunday baked them in six breakfast muffins. It worked perfectly. The end result is not as precise as using boiled eggs, but I still got soft, treacly yolks and they tasted great. It’s a great, simple shortcut. No need for the precision of the reverse engineered Rebel Within.

  12. Hi Joe,

    I expect you took note of these points in the links already, but I’ll mention them anyway:

    Looking over the various links offered by others, it seems to me that the followmefoodie article omits a couple of tips offered by the other links that might improve the results.

    One is dusting the peeled soft-cooked egg with flour before imbedding it in the batter. Would this mitigate the gap that formed around the egg in the followmefoodie example?

    Another was to start the bake at a high temperature for several minutes, then reduce it, which I guess would get the muffin baked faster before the heat penetrates to the egg yolk.

    Also, at Craftsman and Wolves in SF, their Rebel Within muffin goes straight from the oven to the blast chiller to prevent the residual heat from overcooking the egg. I expect I’ll be over-taxing my little freezer compartment when I get around to trying these.

    1. Wow, fantastic thinking, OOTT. I think I’m going to have to try these!

      Cheers,

      – Joe

  13. I’m still having trouble with this concept. Bread needs to get to about 190F (I believe) and if it does than the egg is going to get heated above 150. Looks more like black magic to me!

    1. Yes I hear you. My thinking is that the batter insulates it to a large degree. Heat will penetrate the batter fairly quickly, activate the baking powder and create a bubble-filled crumb. I suspect this slows heat penetration through to the egg white and the yolk. Just a theory, but I’m going with it. 😉

      – Joe

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