Whether you’re planning a rustic or classy brunch, it’s surely going to include eggs, and nothing presents at brunch like an egg bake.
They’re also quick to get on the table, with baking times ranging from 15 to 20 minutes if all ingredients are pre-cooked or warm, to 30 to 40 minutes if ingredients are cold or raw. Be sure to increase the time if you’re doubling a recipe.
What’s an egg bake?
The term “egg bake” covers several styles of baked egg dishes that we know and love, like frittatas, stratas, and quiches. They all involve mixing various ingredients into beaten eggs followed by a stint in the oven. We could go so far as to include omelets because if you’re making a big omelet, it sometimes has to be finished in the oven to get the center done.
Tip! Folks often wonder how long to bake eggs. Avoid overbaking by taking it out of the oven when the center still jiggles slightly. Let it rest for 10 to 20 minutes and the residual heat will finish it to perfection.
What’s the difference?
A frittata is the simplest of all the egg bakes to make. You mix up a few eggs, pour those into a baking dish, top with your choice of ingredients, and bake it in the oven at 350 degrees. Baking time depends on your ingredients and how big your bake is.
A couple classic combinations are spinach and feta cheese, or ham and cheddar cheese, but they are a great way to use up leftover meats and vegetables from the week. Frittatas are also gluten-free.
Try this Organic Mama Veggie Frittata—a cast iron pan would give it an amazing brown crust, but frittatas are just as delicious in a regular baking dish.
“Strata” means layer, and when it comes to egg bakes, it’s about layers of bread, cheese, eggs and milk baked into a puffy casserole. They were popularized in the Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook by Julie Rosso and Sheila Lukins (1984). The usual preparation requires the bread to be alternated with the filling in order to produce layers that will be super fluffy once soaked in the eggs and baked.
From the basic bread-cheese-egg version, you can sass it up with meat (bacon, ham, sausage, smoked salmon) and/or veggies (caramelized onions, scallions, tomatoes, spinach, sautéed leeks, hashbrowns) and/or combinations of cheeses like cheddar and Parmesan, or blue and feta.
You could easily modify this satisfying Sweet Potato Turkey Sausage Egg Bake into a strata by including some regular or gluten-free bread, layering the ingredients instead of mixing them together, and adding a few tablespoons of milk to the beaten eggs.
Quiche, or egg pie, first came to the wider attention of American diners from France in the 1950s. Back then it was all about Quiche Lorraine, which included bacon, onions and Gruyère and Parmesan cheeses. Quiche is perhaps the fussiest of the egg bakes since it typically includes a pie crust, but you can buy pre-made crusts to save a lot of time.
Basically, you’re still whipping up eggs and adding your favorite ingredients in the form of cheese, meat and/or veggies like any other egg bake. But there are a few important differences. One is the crust, obviously, although crustless quiches are becoming more common (they’re also gluten-free). Second, you’ll use cream instead of milk for a richer flavor. And third, where other types of egg bakes will have a lot of add-ins and the eggs merely hold it together, quiches tend to have fewer ingredients so that they are denser and really highlight the flavor of the eggs.
This Breakfast Delight Quiche includes ham, Swiss cheese, spinach and green onions for an easy combination with classic flavors. Our Crustless Asparagus, Leek and Feta Quiche is also a tasty and classy gluten-free option.
Why Wait for Sunday?
Although they are perfect for brunches, we suggest not waiting for the weekend or a special occasion -- or the morning, for that matter -- to make egg bakes. You can mix one up the night before, pop it in the oven when you get up and have a delicious, healthy, hot breakfast ready for yourself or your kids by the time you get dressed. Baked egg dishes are also perfect as breakfast-for-dinner or a satisfying Meatless Monday meal. Plus, leftover egg bakes heat up beautifully. Enjoy!
Want to know more about Organic Valley chickens and eggs?
This is one in a series about Organic Valley eggs and how we care for our chickens. Read more in these other stories.