It has been eight years (what?!) since my last trip to San Francisco, but I still remember certain parts of my trip so clearly as if my last trip wasn’t in 2015. I met Michelle of Hummingbird High for the first time on that trip and we bonded over waffles and coffee. Then I tried Tartine’s lemon tart for the first time, which is now my favourite lemon tart of all time. Another standout (of course it’s food related) was going to Craftsman and Wolves and ordering everything in their pastry case with new friends Jenn, Susannah, and Dafna. Everything was great but I was on a mission to try their Rebel Within muffin. Mission accomplished. I’m sure you’ve seen the muffin before — it has become quite a pastry celebrity ever since CaW started making them. From the outside, it may look like a normal savoury muffin but the cheesy muffin studded with green onions and sausage encases the perfectly runny egg in its centre. It’s served with a little vial of tabasco salt on the side. Eater has a great breakdown of this muffin if you want to learn about it. Ever since I had that muffin inside the bakery, I told myself I would try to recreate it at home. I did have one semi-successful attempt a few years ago but then my desire to recreate it and produce a consistent recipe got eclipsed by many failed attempts.
The hardest part about making the Rebel Within is figuring out the timing of the egg so that the whites are cooked but the yolk stays perfectly runny after two rounds of cooking. The egg is first boiled in water and then it gets cooked again when it is placed in the muffin batter and baked. Conceptually, you want to place a very soft boiled egg in the centre of the muffin batter but realistically it is quite difficult to peel the very soft boiled egg. When the egg is barely cooked, it tends to stick to the shell and tear when you remove it. Or the egg whites are still so wobbly that the yolk falls out of the egg. At first I tried a 2.5-minute boiled egg, which was almost impossible to peel. A 3.5-minute boiled egg is still very runny when you place it in the muffin batter but after it is baked in the muffin again, the yolks are firmer than I would like. Which is fine if you prefer more of a medium egg. I found that an egg boiled for 2 minutes and 45 seconds to 3 minutes is perfect. Three minutes and 15 seconds is fine but is pushing it a bit and doesn’t guarantee consistency results every time you cut open the muffin.
Next is the savoury muffin batter. The original Rebel Within has house-made sausage studded throughout the muffin but since I’m not a meaty gal, I omitted the meat in the batter and added more cheese to bump up the flavour and salt content. From Eater’s thorough breakdown, you see that a lot of the moisture comes from creme fraiche, but I found that sour cream works just as well if you aren’t able to find creme fraiche. For the batter, we start off whisking together the usual suspects: all-purpose flour, baking powder and soda, a bit of sugar and salt. Then we add the liquid ingredients which is a mixture of sour cream, eggs, and melted butter. My cheeses of choice are cheddar and parmesan. I love the addition of parmesan and found the muffin to taste a little flat when it is made with just cheddar. Chives are optional but I like the flavour and colour it adds. After you make the batter (which is going to be quite thick!), I transferred it to a piping bag so I can fill the muffin tin more easily. Before assembling the muffin, light dust the soft boiled eggs with a bit of flour — this will help the egg stay in place as well as absorb any excess liquid that tends to gather around the egg in the muffin. Fill the bottom of a large muffin pan or popover pan with a bit of the batter, carefully place the floured egg in the centre and continue to pipe the batter around and on top of the egg. Don’t overfill the muffin tin too much or else the muffin will need more time to bake through and there is increased chance that the egg will overcook. Top with more cheese and then bake. Baking it at 400F gives it great lift and it should be taken out of the oven at the 16 – 17 minute mark. I don’t recommend leaving the muffin in there for more than 18 minutes. If your first batch is a bit overcooked, don’t get discouraged. It took me many tries (and many cartons of eggs) to really figure it out, but I hope this works as a good starting point for you. Enjoy the muffin when it’s fresh —It’s most satisfying when enjoyed warm.
The Rebel Within Muffin
- 6 large eggs
Savoury Muffin Batter
- 240 g (2 cups) all-purpose flour
- 39 g (3 tbsp) granulated sugar
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 240 g (1 cup) full-fat sour cream, room temperature
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 57 g (1/4 cup) butter, melted
- 3 tbsp milk
- 200 g (2 cups) shredded cheddar cheese
- 100 g (1 cup) shredded parmesan cheese
- 1 tbsp chives, finely chopped
- Fill a bowl with warm water and place eggs in the bowl.
- Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Slowly lower the eggs into the boiling water. Set timer for 2 minutes 45 seconds* (See note)
- While eggs are boiling, create an ice bath in a bowl.
- Once timer is up, remove the eggs from the pot and place into the bowl of ice water. This will stop the eggs from cooking further.
- Once eggs are cool enough to touch, very carefully peel the eggs. Gently tap the egg on the counter to crack the shell. Start peeling from the cracks in the wide end of the egg. The hardest section to peel is the narrowest part. If the white sticks to the shell in one spot, try from a different spot.
- Once all the eggs are peeled, place on a plate and place in the freezer while you make the muffin batter.
Savoury Muffin Batter
- Preheat oven to 400F and grease a large muffin/popover pan. Grease the top of the muffin pan generously. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together sour cream, eggs, and melted butter, and milk.
- Pour the liquid mixture into the dry mixture, and stir with spatula until ingredients are mostly combined.
- Add 75% of the cheddar cheese, all of the parmesan cheese, and chives and mix until evenly distributed. The batter will be thick.
- Transfer the batter to a piping bag. Pipe a thin later of batter to the bottom of the muffin pan. Place a chilled soft boiled egg in centre. Continue to pipe the batter around and on top of the egg. Be generous when piping batter on top of the egg because the batter will slide off a little as it bakes.
- Top each muffin dome with the reserved cheddar cheese.
- Bake muffins for 16 minutes rotating halfway through the baking time. The tops of the muffins should be golden brown.
- Allow muffins to cool in pan for 5 minutes. As these muffins cool, it will continue to cook the egg. Using an offset spatula or butter knife, carefully go around the sides of the muffin to loosen it from the pan. Once it is no longer sticking to the sides of the pan, remove the muffins.
- Enjoy warm.