In the culinary arts, the word coddling refers to a cooking technique, usually involving eggs, in which the egg is cracked into a small buttered dish or ramekin, along with seasonings and sometimes other ingredients, and then partially immersed in a hot water bath (or bain-marie) for several minutes.
Some methods of coddling involve baking the egg, in the water bath, in the oven. Or it can be simmered in the water bath on the stovetop. A baked egg is similar to a coddled egg, but a baked egg is baked in a ramekin without a water bath.
The degree of doneness achieved depends on how long the egg is cooked. But as the word "coddle" suggests, it is a gentle cooking method, resulting in a soft texture, with a yolk still at least partially runny (although the white should not be liquid).
Coddled eggs are a traditional ingredient in the classic Caesar Salad recipe. In this case, the egg is very lightly cooked.
Other ingredients can be included in the ramekin as well, such as chopped ham or bacon, onions, peas, cheese, herbs and so on. Additionally, the ramekin can be rubbed with olive oil rather than butter. Coddled eggs are sometimes referred to as eggs en cocotte.
Also see: How to Poach an Egg