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I have been given four ramekins and a cooking book with 30 recipes for eggs in a ramekin as a present.

Everything is explained very clearly:

  • Preheat the water for the bain marie dish in the oven at (I think) 180°C
  • Put the eggs in a ramekin
  • Add other ingredients
  • Place the ramekin in the bain marie dish in the oven
  • Get the ramekins out when you see the egg white is starting to coagulate

I have never used ramekins and I have never cooked au bain marie in the oven, but I believe the amount of water you use is pretty important. Unfortunately the book doesn't mention this.

So how high should the water level be for the ramekins?

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1 Answer 1

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Ideally, the water level should be just as, or a bit above, the egg level. So, you fill the ramekin to maybe 1.5 cm below the rim, place it in the dish, and fill the dish until it is 1 cm below the ramekin rim. You can deviate a bit, if you must - if you had a bit too much custard and filled the ramekins more, you shouldn't get the water too high, because you don't want to get water splashed onto the custard if it should start boiling (actually, you want to avoid a roiling boil in your bain marie, but it can happen). Even if the egg is slightly higher than the water, it will still be OK. If you have the water level too low, you risk to overheat the upper portions of your custards.

This assumes the souffle-cup-like ramekins usually sold to home bakers. If you have very flat ones, like crema catalana dishes, it gets more complicated. You have to have the water close to the rim, and bake at lower settings. It can help to put them high in the bain marie, e.g. on a cake cooling rack, so that they are cooled from below rather than the sides.

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Do you mean the water is actually used to cool the eggs a bit? I always thought it helped everything heat up faster. The book says I need to use hot water. Should I be doing this then? If the water should prevent overheating, maybe I should use cold or lukewarm water? –  Kristof Claes May 25 '12 at 9:45
    
It is used to cook the eggs at the correct temperature, which is about 75°C to 85°C for a custard. If you just put them in a 120°C oven, they will overheat and curdle. But they also won't start cooking before they reach 75°C (or a bit less, depending on the exact recipe). The water is used to maintain them in the correct temperature interval, neither too hot, nor too cold. If you use cold water, the eggs will start setting later. Pour hot, but not boiling, water into the bain marie, else you have to wait for the oven to heat it. –  rumtscho May 25 '12 at 10:00
    
Thanks for your answer and the extra information. I will add that none of the 30 recipes in the book are custardy eggs. They are all eggs with the egg white and yolk still separated. I assume this makes no difference in oven and water temperature? –  Kristof Claes May 25 '12 at 10:58
    
Interesting. Can you post a link to the book? But while the temperature needed for eggs varies depending on the dish, if they specify a bain marie, then the 75 to 85°C range is probably the correct one, else they would recommend another technique. –  rumtscho May 25 '12 at 12:30

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