This week's column features more of a tutorial than a recipe. If you've read the introduction to my cookbook, you'll know that one of my favorite ingredients in the kitchen is the humble egg. And one of the most popular posts I've ever written on my blog was around Easter time six years ago, when I talked about how to make "hard-boiled" eggs in a muffin pan in the oven, a technique inspired by Alton Brown.
Baking them in the oven means they're not really boiled at all, but rather hard-cooked. I've seen some folks place their eggs directly onto the baking rack, but the trouble with this method is that you increase your chances of eggs breaking, falling or cracking and making a mess in your oven or on your kitchen floor. You also have to transfer each egg in and out of the oven individually, which can be clumsy and precarious. By using a standard muffin tin, you can prevent the eggs from rolling around and transfer them all in and out of the oven at once. If an egg does happen to crack during baking, any leakage is contained inside the pan, away from the other eggs.
I've been using this hard-cooked method for years and it has always produced consistent results for me. I find that the whites have a softer texture and aren't as rubbery when baked as they are when boiled. There's no gray ring around the yolk from over-cooking the eggs. And I've found the eggs to be easier to peel after baking than after boiling, although the fresher the eggs the more difficult they are to peel, regardless of method. I love that I can bake them a couple dozen all at once, as many eggs as I have muffin pans to put them in. This is very handy when making big batches for egg dying, deviled eggs or egg salad.
One thing to note is that sometimes a small, brown spot will appear on the shell and the white of the egg from where the egg was touching the pan. If you need your eggs to be pristine white with no flaws, this may not be the method for you. Or, you can gingerly slice the imperfection off with a sharp knife. Also, if your oven is temperamental, I would recommend trying one or two eggs first to ensure your eggs are cooked how you like them before making an entire dozen. But, I've had four different ovens since I first started using this recipe — a temperature of 325 degrees and a baking time of 26-28 minutes has worked well for me.
Hard-cooked eggs in a muffin pan
Makes 1 dozen eggs
1 dozen eggs (preferably not fresh for easier peeling)
1 standard muffin tin
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place 1 dozen eggs in a muffin pan. Bake 26-28 minutes (mine took 27; this will depend on your oven). Place eggs in a cold water bath until cool enough to handle. Peel.