For the International Incident Party this month, we are celebrating the humble egg. Eggs are amazing (eggmazing? Sorry. Couldn’t resist!). You can eat them raw, cooked, or put them in savoury dishes, sweet dishes, or baked goods – they’re so versatile. The properties of eggs make them invaluable in baking and cooking. Egg yolks have emulsification properties that allow fats to stay dispersed in water and vice versa, which promotes thickening and stability. The emulsification properties also give baked goods a smooth, creamy texture. And egg whites, when whipped, have great foaming properties and are often used to incorporate air and foam into baked goods. Meringues and pavlovas wouldn’t be possible without egg whites!
I had a lot of trouble deciding what to make for the party this month – there were so many options. Initially, I thought about doing a Hong Kong style egg tart, but that resulted in a big fat fail. The problem was my failure to find a recipe that I liked / was sure of, so I mostly winged it. Winging it is generally not a good idea in baking. I know this already, and yet sometimes I forget? Convince myself it’ll be okay? Have a moment of madness? Probably all of the above! In addition to the lack of a recipe, my oven temperature was too hot when I put the tarts in (I realise this in hindsight) and my egg tarts came out, well, like this:
They were edible and tasted okay, but they weren’t egg tarts. Yes, a recipe would have been a fantastic idea!
So it was back to the drawing board. Which basically consisted of me whinging to Alastair about how I didn’t know what to make for the eggs party. He threw tons of suggestions at me, all of which I shot down (gee, I’m ungrateful). Until he mentioned one idea, that made me go, “Ooooh. That might just work.”
His suggestion? A slow cooked egg.
After a bit of research, I found that at 62°C, egg whites start to set, while egg yolks start to set at about 64°C. My aim was to cook the egg at a temperature where the egg whites just set, with the yolk being thick and gooey (but not too runny).
But I wasn’t entirely sure how long to cook the eggs for. My online research found the Momofuku technique which says to cook whole, unpeeled eggs in water that is between 60-62°C for 45 minutes. However, other websites I read suggested cooking the eggs for 75 minutes. Hmm. A bit of trial and error was going to be involved.
I thought I could use my thermal pot to keep the water temperature constant, so I filled it with water, put a plate at the bottom of the pot, and put it on the stove. My eggs were already at room temperature, so when the water reached 64°C, I placed the eggs on top of the plate (the plate was there so they didn’t touch the bottom of the pot). I made sure that the temperature didn’t drop too much after the eggs had been added, and then I put it into the thermal pot for 45 minutes.
After 45 minutes, I opened up the pot and checked the temperature. Unfortunately, the water temperature had dropped to 50°C, and when I cracked an egg open the whites hadn’t set. So that wasn’t going to work!
Because I lost so much heat in the thermal pot, I then decided to just put it on the stove and hope that I could keep adjusting the heat to keep the water at 62°C. Unfortunately, I found it very hard to maintain the temperature of the water. I must’ve let it get too high at times, because after another 45 minutes, the whites had just set, BUT the yolk had also started to set.
So it wasn’t quite the result I was looking for. As you can see in the photo, the yolks were still soft but they were a bit thicker like I wanted. But six eggs down and an hour and a half later, I was understandably a bit over the whole thing!
I definitely want to try it again some other time – and in the future I think 45 minutes at 62°C will do the trick. I just need to think of an easier way to control the temperature. Perhaps that means my kitchen needs a sous vide machine. 😀
Thanks to Penny from [Addictive and Consuming] for organising another great International Incident Party, and happy birthday to Trix of Tasty Trix! Check out the other party goers and see what they did with the humble egg: