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It is my opinion that all savory dishes can be improved by putting a fried egg on top, and I've yet to find an exception.

However, the idea of doing that to a sweet dish seems totally foul.

Considering that eggs are ingredients in many desserts, like cake batters, curds, and meringues, why would that be? It's not just that they're not sweetened, because you can use, for example, unsweetened cream cheese in both a sweet pastry or a savory one.

Am I wrong in my premise? Are there sweet dishes with eggs that are used without mixing them into the other ingredients?

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    I've heard of eggs poached in maple syrup - more a breakfast food than a dessert, but it is at least one whole-egg sweet application. – Megha May 19 '17 at 5:35
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    Hi Brian, wondering "why" is a fun question to consider, but not one we can really answer. Traditions are traditions, they don't need a reason, and when they have one, you need to know the exact circumstances of it arising to be able to answer. Instead, people love falling into speculation, and votes get given to the appealingly written answers, regardless of whether they are right. So I removed the "why" from the title and left only the part you ask in the body: are there counter-examples. – rumtscho May 19 '17 at 7:26
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    So, how was the sushi with a fried egg on top? – rackandboneman May 19 '17 at 7:51
  • @rackandboneman better than the carpaccio? – Chris H May 19 '17 at 8:02
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    @rackandboneman and ChrisH, I think both sushi and carpaccio would be improved with a fried egg on top. Perhaps a quail's egg for downing in one bite though. – Brian May 19 '17 at 13:38
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Korean gyeran-ppang is a small sweet cake with an entire egg cracked into each before baking. They might be an acquired taste, or maybe take some practice--my friend who studied abroad in South Korea loves them. I made them myself, and they were okay, but... Not my cup of tea in the end. I shouldn't have been too surprised; I dislike runny yolks. One of them came out absolutely perfect: the egg in the center was just barely set into a sort of mildly sweet custard, but the rest... shudders.

  • This is definitely the sort of thing I was wondering if it existed! I think I'll have to reassign the "correct" answer to you. – Brian May 23 '17 at 17:19
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I would contend that I have never seen Italian Easter bread served as anything but a dessert, but I am told by others they have had it as a main course side. Would seem very out of place there to me. It is a sweet bread with an orange and anise glaze and dyed egg in the center or sometimes more than one.

What we consider dessert or main is far more tradition IMO than some written fact. I personally hate boiled eggs, but my grandfather considered them a dessert.

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    It looks like the egg is so intact it's even got the shell on. Is that right? I think you might win this one – Chris H May 19 '17 at 14:56
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    @ChrisH Yes, traditionally, at least the ones I have had, the egg is dyed raw and put in the bread for baking, so is a baked egg rather than boiled. I have also had Asian salted eggs served as a dessert, but in Asian cuisine it is not uncommon to have a dessert or closing course that most of us would consider savory. – dlb May 19 '17 at 15:12
  • It looks interesting to eat. And we've just missed Easter. – Chris H May 19 '17 at 15:33
  • Do you peel and eat the egg along with the sweet pastry? When I was thinking about the question, I was wondering about dishes where the sweetness and flavorings commingle with the whole egg, but the shell would prevent that in your bread. – Brian May 21 '17 at 13:31
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    @Brian When I have had the bread, some people treat the egg more as I decoration. I find the taste of a hard boiled or baked yolk about like licking chalk, so I am firmly in the decoration camp. The Italian families I shared dinner with that made it though treated it as a tradition to peel the egg, slice it up and everyone share it with the bread. Not my taste, but they enjoyed it. – dlb May 22 '17 at 2:14
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It's a cake rather than a dessert (always a tricky distinction) and traditionally uses the unbroken yolk rather than the whole egg, at but I offer you the Chinese moon cake. The egg isn't universal; neither is the cake being sweet. You certainly get sweet ones with egg.

Apart from being a (rather poor) example, the Mooncake hints at something else: the sweet/savoury-main course /dessert distinction isn't universal. In fact it has European roots but has spread widely.

Eggs also have small but non-negligible amounts of salt and glutamate, flavours we associate with savoury foods, especially together.

  • A small amount of salt is good even for sweet foods.... – rackandboneman May 19 '17 at 7:48
  • @rackandboneman, many, yes, depending on the other ingredients. You and I will almost inevitably draw the line in different places -- I cooked with very little salt even before reducing it for a baby weaning onto the same food we ate. The salt content of an intact egg may be a little high for most people's tastes (combined with the zero sweetness of that bite) in a sweet cake, while dispersed in a cake mix it wouldn't be. – Chris H May 19 '17 at 8:01
  • I ABSOLUTELY love mooncakes with sweet lotus seed paste and the kind with mixed dried fruits. I also love most Asian foods and make/eat them more often than Western foods. But one time I unknowingly bought a mooncake with a salted duck yolk in it. It doesn't taste at all like a cooked chicken egg yolk but VERY different. I hated it and ended up throwing it out. – Jude May 20 '17 at 14:57
  • I'm going to give it to @ChrisH here because the idea of a yolk as the filling of a sweet pastry is the closest to what I was thinking. Along with his thoughts about the salt in a egg being noticeable when concentrated vs. mixed in, I think the sulfur-containing amino acids in eggs would be similarly noticeable. – Brian May 22 '17 at 4:49

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