The Invention of the Dropped Egg

I love eggs. I love 'em boiled, fried, scrambled, sliced, mashed, in sandwiches, on pizzas, in salads, on toast, for breakfast, in the evening, at easter, whenever. This has been a constant for my whole life, and one of the first dishes I remember learning to eat when I was a very small child was soft boiled egg with soldiers.

My mum would sit me in my high chair and give me my egg in its cup, a slice of buttered toast cut into ten soldiers and an egg spoon, and let me feed myself. Granted, I tended to get quite a bit of it on my face rather than into my mouth, but it's all part of the learning curve.

I clearly remember the kitchen I used to sit in, and my mum still has heavily limescaled saucepan that she only ever uses to boil eggs. She would set the little tray on the front of my high chair with the spoon, egg cup and soldiers, just as the timer began to sound to announce the end of the boiling time for the egg. With a flourish unique to her, she would lift the egg out of the water with her slotted spoon, pause a moment for the water to drip off, and slide the egg neatly into my egg cup.

One day, much like any other, my mum was finishing the egg serving ritual, but must have turned a little faster than usual. The egg, with its wet shell, slid straight off the side of the spoon and landed on the tiled floor with a splat. Ever the quick thinker, and before my childish objections could be voiced, my mum acted fast in the face of my surprise.

"It's a dropped egg! It's better because you put it straight onto your toast!

How to Make your Very Own Dropped Egg: The Recipe(s)

There are two methods of making a dropped egg. I recommend the second way, but for the sake of completeness have included both that and the original method.

The following items are needed, regardless of which recipe you choose to follow.

  • An egg
  • A saucepan
  • A plate
  • Tap water
  • A device for measuring time in minutes
  • A spoon, preferably slotted
  • An egg cup
  • A least one slice of bread
  • A knife
  • A fork or a spoon, whichever you prefer (this is for eating the egg and toast)
  • Butter, or margarine, or other appropriate spread for toast, as you prefer.

Recipe One: The Original

  1. Fill the saucepan with the tap water, making sure there is enough to submerge the egg when it's added.
  2. Heat the water to boiling point on the hob.
  3. Set the timer for five minutes for a medium sized egg or six minutes for a large egg.*
  4. Place the egg into the boiling water using the slotted spoon, taking care not to splash yourself with the hot water. There's always a possibility that an egg will crack when placed into boiling water, so I pierce the rounder end of the egg with a nappy pin which lets out the air.†
  5. As the water resumes its boil (this should be almost immediate unless your egg was extremely cold), start the timer.
  6. Toast the bread.
  7. When the toast is ready, spread it with butter (or margarine etc…) and cut into soldiers.
  8. When the sand in the egg timer runs out or the timer begins to sound, remove the egg from the water with the slotted spoon.
  9. Move towards the egg cup, and as you turn your hand to slide the egg into the egg cup, jerk your arm and drop the egg on the floor.
  10. Exclaim in surprise.
  11. Using a clean tea towel or kitchen paper, pick up the (hopefully still mostly intact) egg. Carefully peel the shell away from the egg, taking care not to burn yourself as the egg will be hot.
  12. When all of the shell has been removed, drop the egg onto the soldiers. Eat!

*If you are using an egg timer, make sure it runs for the right amount of time. Also, if you prefer a very runny egg or a not-so-runny egg, feel free to boil the egg for more or less time (respectively).
†There are a few ways to boil an egg. If you have a method you prefer, it's fine to subsitute it here.

Recipe Two: Recommended

Follow the instructions as above up to and including Step 8. Then:

  1. Hold the egg in a tea towel or kitchen paper, and tap it with a spoon (or just on the work surface) until the shell is all cracked.
  2. Carefully peel the shell away from the egg, taking care not to burn yourself as the egg will be hot.
  3. When all of the shell has been removed, drop the egg onto the soldiers.
  4. Eat!


If you want to make this more of a meal, I suggest adding baked beans or tinned spaghetti on top of the toast, before dropping the egg. I have also used potato waffles rather than bread which makes a great alternative.

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