The three ladies in the backyard have been outdoing themselves, even as the summer fades to fall. Each day, three perfect orbs in the nest—one an unblemished white, the other two a freckled mocha. They all lay in the same box, even though we made one for each of them. They take turns; I think our White Leghorn, Josephine, goes first most mornings, but I’m not sure whether Bitty Black or Cotton Little takes the roost next, as their eggs look identical.
Fresh eggs taste nothing like their store-bought counterparts. Those runny, translucent whites and thin, pale yellow yolks—yuck. I don’t want to brag (I’m not the one doing the work, after all), but the eggs from our backyard are superb. The yolks are a dark yellow-orange that have a thick, creamy consistency, almost like butter, when just undercooked. The whites are firm and tasty, not bland and slimy.
I love eggs in almost any form, but I’ve been wanting to come up with another way to use them, given the profusion we’ve had the last few months. What I came up with is not only tasty, but adorable. These would be great for a group of kids, but they’re fancy enough to serve at a more formal brunch I think (although my version of “fancy” and “formal” probably don’t coincide with many other people’s conception of those words). I would love to make them for Easter—unfortunately, during the chill of early spring, we’re still in a near egg-famine around here.
I honestly can’t believe I never came up with a crust like this before. It’s so simply, and delicious, and much healthier than a pastry shell. I would recommend using Heidi’s Whole Wheat Bread, but any supple sandwich bread should work. I wouldn’t use a store-bought bread, unless it’s of good quality. I think a wonder bread slice would be more than disappointing here. At the same time, don’t get a crusty artisan loaf unless it’s soft on the inside and you cut off the crusts. This won’t work unless the bread is malleable enough to press into the pan. A hearty, hefty loaf will simply split, rather than molding to the pan.
There are so many variations you could do here—I’ve already played around with many possibilities. I’ve included a few ideas in the headnotes.
Meat Option: Add in some tiny bits of precooked sausage or bacon between the spinach and egg (see the picture at the end of the post).
Special Diets and Allergies: Dairy-free if you use a bread with no dairy; nut-free.
Eggs in a Nest
These individual-sized baked eggs are delicious, like a fried egg packaged for each person in a toasty crust. I like my eggs underdone, with a slightly runny and creamy yolk. There’s nothing quite as disappointing as a dry egg. Make sure you use a fresh and supple whole wheat sandwich bread of good quality, not a cheap mushy loaf. If the bread is stale at all, it will not mold to the muffin tin cups. There are many variations that would be tasty. I like sautéing some onions, mixing them with spinach or other cooked vegetables, chopped very small, and then whisking in a beaten egg for each bread “nest.” The cooking time will be similar. I think broccoli would be nice, or diced sweet peppers. Chard, beet greens, or kale could also easily be substituted for the spinach.
12 slices of high-quality, soft, whole wheat sandwich bread
1 C precooked spinach, chopped (make sure the water is wrung out)
Freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 375 F. Grease a 12-cup muffin tin.
- Lightly brush olive oil on one side of each piece of bread. Press each piece into a separate muffin tin, oil side up, carefully pressing the bread together and against the sides of each muffin cup, so that there are no cracks and the inside is a smooth surface of bread, reaching the top of each cup.
- Wring out the spinach to get it as dry as possible. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Place a heaping T of spinach in each cup.
- Crack an egg on top of the spinach in each cup. Season the top with salt and pepper to taste.
- Bake for 15-17 minutes, depending on how well-done you like your yolk, then place the pan under a broiler, set on high, for one minute, or until the whites on top are no longer runny. Make sure you check frequently to keep them from burning!