You can't peek inside the shell to see whether a soft-boiled egg is done to your liking, so you have to place your faith in the clock. If you like an egg with a partly set, soft white and a runny yolk—what the French call an oeuf mollet—stop the cooking after four minutes; if you like to flirt with hard-boiled, seven minutes is your mark. The eggs shown here represent a nice midpoint: cooked for six minutes, they boast a firmly set white and a yolk that's still soft enough to spread on toast.
1. Using a slotted spoon, gently place 4 room-temperature eggs in a 4-quart saucepan filled with 2 quarts boiling water and start timing. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for exactly 6 minutes.
2. Remove eggs with a slotted spoon.
3. Transfer eggs to an ice water bath and let sit for 30–60 seconds to stop the cooking and make the shell easier to remove.
4. Remove eggs from the ice water and transfer to egg cups. Snip off the narrow end with egg scissors or slice off with a knife and use a small spoon to scoop out the white and yolk. Alternatively, peel each egg by gently rolling and cracking the shell on a flat surface. Makes 4 eggs.