perfect soft-boiled eggs
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Are you big into dipping hunks of crusty bread into soft-boiled eggs, but lack enough egg cups to feed a crowd? No matter, thanks to a hack from baker and cookbook author Apollonia Poilane, the owner and third-generation baker of Poilane bakery in Paris, France.  

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The wizard baker has a nifty hack for eggs and soldiers that eschews ceramic egg cups for—wait for it—a slice of bread. Plus, she guarantees that the soldiers will remain sturdy and upright (no one likes soft and limp bread).

To start, Apollonia soft-boils eggs and cracks open the tops. While the eggs rest, she slices a Pullman-style sandwich bread (the long, rectangular breads that are often sliced and used for sandwiches) and begins a bit of a DIY art project. She takes a pastry tip outfitted with a wide hole, and, using the smaller end, punches out a circle in one corner of the bread. She removes the round of bread, then flips the pastry tip over to the other, larger end and does the same thing—but this time she leaves the circle in place.

Poilane Bakery in Paris, France, where executive editor Hana Asbrink learned this trick | Hana Asbrink

Then she gets to work on the soldiers: Using a chef’s knife, she gently cuts into the bread, carving lines from the outer round of the circle to the edge of the bread. Once completed, the slice of bread undeniably resembles a sun, complete with wide spokes soaring to the crust—a smattering of soldiers, all different sizes and shapes.

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Apollonia sprinkles the egg with flaky salt, then places it, still in its shell, atop the cut-out circle, the cutest bespoke stand for an egg, and one that doesn’t require a ceramic cup. The egg can rest on its own, a balancing act worthy of a breakfast award.

To finish off the eggs and soldiers, Apollonia spreads the soldiers with plenty of butter, then dunks them in the jammy eggs. Not only does this hack allow cooks who don’t own ceramic cups to feast upon eggs and soldiers at home, but it’s a sure crowd-pleaser that can be served for a large breakfast party.

For a step-by-step visual guide, check out the video of Apollonia perfecting the trick herself.

Header image by Chowhound.

Amy Schulman is an associate editor at Chowhound. She is decidedly pro-chocolate.
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