July 31, 2023

Will we ever know the truth about Eggy in a Basket?

A recipe and tale about Egg in a Hole.

The movie V for Vendetta brought back a long-dormant childhood memory for Eggy in a Basket. That is, a piece of plain white bread with a hole cut out of the center cut and an egg fried inside. But it appears that Londoners have never called this dish Eggy in a Basket. And Alan Moore, writer of the original graphic novel, was perplexed that the movie writers couldn’t figure out what Brits actually ate for breakfast.


What’s curious about this dish is that it seems to have been around for well over 100 years and may have developed independently in every culture where loaf white bread exists. As a result the incomplete list of names that this food is called is nearly endless:

  • Adam and Eve on a raft
  • Baby in a buggy
  • Belly-Button egg
  • Betty Grable eggs (from 1941 film Moon over Miami)
  • Betty Jane
  • Bird drop
  • Bird’s nest
  • Birdie in a basket
  • Birmingham egg
  • Bregg
  • Bullseye
  • Egg in a cage
  • Camel’s eye
  • Cartwheel
  • Cat in a hat
  • Circus toast
  • Cowboy egg
  • Diamond toast
  • Doughnut egg
  • Egg in a blanket
  • Egg in a boat
  • Egg in a hole
  • Egg in a nest
  • Egg in a basket
  • Egg in a frame
  • Egg in a pocket
  • Egg in a trashcan (from 1987 movie Moonstruck)
  • Egg in a well
  • Egg in a window
  • Egg in the middle
  • Egg in jail
  • Egg on an island
  • Egg with a hat
  • Elephant tracks
  • Fireman’s toast
  • Framed egg
  • Frog in a hole
  • Frog in the pond
  • Gashouse egg (from 1941 film Moon over Miami)
  • Gashouse special
  • Gasthaus egg
  • Goldmine egg
  • Guesthouse egg
  • Guy Kibbee eggs (from 1935 film Mary Jane’s Pa where the actor prepared them)
  • Knot-hole egg
  • Hobo toast
  • Hocus Pocus egg
  • Hole in one
  • Hole in the head
  • Holey egg
  • Holy egg
  • Hot house eggs (as referenced by Roald Dahl)
  • Lazy-eyed pirate
  • Lighthouse egg
  • Man in a raft
  • Marty Wilson
  • Mary Jane
  • Moon Over Miami (from 1941 film Moon over Miami)
  • Morning hole in one
  • One-eyed Egyptian (from 1935 movie Mary Jane’s Pa)
  • One-eyed Jack
  • One-eyed Pete
  • One-eye pirate
  • One-eyed Susie
  • One-eyed Texan
  • Ox-eye egg
  • Peek-a-boo egg
  • Spit in the eye
  • Sunshine egg
  • Toad in a hole
  • Toad in the road
  • Toast with a tummy
  • Polish egg
  • Popeye
  • Rocky Mountain toast

And it seems part of the skit is the actors arguing over the name of the dish. It was never called Eggy in a Basket until the Movie V for Vendetta came along. What’s interesting is since this dish was never marketed or seldom seems to have made it into a cookbook, no name for it was ever really stuck. The beauty of it is that what your mother, father or grandparent called it, is what it’s affectionately known by to you.

And these are just the names that have been translated into English. It’s said that the Egg With a Hat recipe appeared in print the first time in the US in the 1896 Boston Cooking School Cookbook by Fannie Farmer. However, when looking through the book, I can’t find it. So its murky history must remain that way.

A few more notables:

  • Italian immigrants brought this from Italy and called it uova fritte nel pane or uova fritte nel pancarre both translated as fried egg in bread.
  • A variation called Eggs Rothko, with melted cheddar on top, is the signature dish at George Weld’s Brooklyn restaurant The Egg. It’s named in honor of abstract artist Mark Rothko because the cheese strips on top looked like one of his paintings.
  • An episode of the TV show Friends included Joey Tribbiani’s dish Eggs with the Bread with the Hole in the Middle, à la Me. It seems to be a popular sitcom meme when the writer’s get stuck during a breakfast scene.

Recipe: Egg in a Hole.


  • Slice of white bread
  • Egg
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Use a cookie cutter or glass to cut a hole in the center of the slice of bread.
  2. Throw it in a hot skillet with butter.
  3. Crack an egg in the middle.
  4. Add a little salt and pepper.
  5. When the white is cooked, flip it over.
  6. Continue to cook few more minutes for a firm yolk.


  • For Eggs Rothko, add multicolor strips of cheese. Some prefer popping it under the boiler to melt the cheese more quickly. Or pour on the queso or Cheeze Whiz when serving. I usually just add cheese after flipping and when melted—the other side is done.
  • Instead of cheese on top, serve with a side of fried cheese. Halloumi with it’s meaty flavor is excellent, but many cheeses like provolone slices or grated cheddar also crisp up nicely.
  • Garnish with fresh, sliced cherry tomatoes or pico de gallo.
  • A few dots of hot sauce or a slash of Heinz 57 on top is always welcome.

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