Soldiers on parade


It was the usual spring weekday breakfast – soft boiled egg; soldiers + unsalted butter; coffee; blood orange juice (freshly squeezed, naturally) – and I started mulling over the question of soldiers – what is the proper bread out of which to make them? White or brown, sir Sourdough or plain? Rye or whole meal? Soda or risen?

I make and eat only one bread, Auntie Mary’s Super Soda Bread, about which I’ve written before, I think. It makes top-notch toast. There’s nothing better, in my view, for carrying a head of unsalted butter topped with jam or marmalade. Honey is another matter. But for soldiers for dipping into the brilliant yellow yoke of the sublime eggs I get at the Newark Farm stall at Stroud Farmer’s Market? Hmm.

I tasted them against some soldiers made from the Pain de Campagne from the equally local Hobbs Bakery, also decorated at the point of impact with a curl of unsalted butter.

As a result of this highly scientific process I have come to the following conclusions:

1. As a general principle, the more flavoured the bread, the less suitable it is as a vehicle for molten egg yolk.
2. The lighter, crisper (never crispy) crunch of white toast is more suited to egg dipping than the denser, more tightly knit texture of brown toast of whatever provenance.
3. The more neutral, wheaty flavour of white toast, with a hint of caramel marries with rich, creamy butteriness of a fine egg yolk better than toasts made with the more assertive breads,
4. Therefore, out go sourdoughs, ryes, spelts and other high-health, fashionable breads.
5. The right proportions for soldiers are 1cm thick x 2cm wide x 8cm long.

I think the same is probably true of scrambled egg, although the more fragile surface of white toast goes soggier more quickly than tougher brown toast, and therefore has to be eaten instantly.

At ease!

5 thoughts on “Soldiers on parade

  1. You are totally wrong. Absolutely and utterly incorrect. I am infuriated at this. Indubitably the best soldier bread is white sourdough – preferably the San Fran Sourdough from Gails. Poilane at a push. Toasted but barely coloured. Unsalted butter. A few flakes Maldon sprinkled onto the yolk prior to each yolk extraction.

    Yours splenetically, Melanie

  2. Whoa. This is all wrong. Soda bread is horrid spread with anything other than honey, and good sourdough (i.e. MY sourdough) is utterly perfect for egg-dipping – preferably skimmed with Marmite first. What happened to your legendary good taste Mr Fort?

  3. A simple subject! Who the heck would write a piece on eggs and soldiers and the nuances of what makes the difference? But it needed to be said – well done, that man! Now … if only the troops would pay attention and do the right thing …

  4. I prefer a slice of homemade wheatmeal (about 85 per cent whole wheat) bread, without butter. The egg yolk provides the butteriness. What a lovely discussion!

  5. Sourdough soldiers? Not sure. I have read the post again I am sure, no sourdough or other detracting flavours, you are so right! Sourdough for scrambled eggs, I am sure of, I was glad to hear Gordon agrees with me on this. I put my poached eggs on Toasted Soda Bread; they are poached Jamie Oliver style in Clingfilm, resulting in a dry poached egg, nothing missing. Also eggs are not always fresh enough for a good traditional poach result. On top of this, I add things to the egg, like Heston’s vanilla salt. I here purists screaming no. But seriously vanilla poached eggs on homemade soda bread toast. The use of Sea beet for Florentine effect, some real bacon, actually a sliver of Parma with the vanilla poached eggs, yes please! Sorry to go off on a tangent.
    I make my own Soda bread so plain soda is usually around. When I am in Bavaria the bread scenario is massively better.
    Bayerische Brot ist König
    One other thing Clarence Court, available to many people.

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