~ Perfect Popovers: When doing less really is more! ~
Pretty, puffed-up, golden-brown pockets of crusty, light, airy carbohydrate perfection. With hollow, soft, almost custardlike centers, besides their wonderful taste, freshly and properly baked popovers emerging from the oven are a magnificent sight. They are "one of the culinary wonders of the world". Traditional popovers are really easy to make, and the less you mess with the recipe the better they turn out, but, if the the wet and dry ingredients aren't of the correct ratio, and if the proper baking procedure isn't followed, they will literally be a flip-flop. If you'd like to impress your friends and family with some delicious kitchen drama, bake some popovers for your next breakfast or brunch. That said, popovers are best served hot, right out of the oven. I never invite friends to "popover for popovers" -- in my kitchen, reservations are required!
Reservations are required, or, you'll miss the performance!!!
A bit about popovers: A simple-to-make drizzly batter, about the consistency of cream and resemblant of a crepe batter (made from whole milk, eggs, melted butter, all-purpose flour and salt) gets made and rested. The batter is then frothed in a blender and poured into a preheated muffin-esque looking pan, then baked in a hot oven. Without the aid of any leaveners (yeast, baking powder or baking soda), the build up of steam propels the batter to balloon up towards the sky. The detailed, technical explanation is 100% food science. As long as the batter has been prepared correctly, once in the oven, a perfect storm of events occurs: the formation of gluten in the flour and the puffing action of the eggs, in combination with the creation of steam, in a perfectly-shaped vessel, in a hot oven that does not get opened at all during the process.
A bit about popover pans: The name "popover" is said to have come from the fact that as the batter bakes, it expands, causing it to "pop over" the top and sides of each cup-shaped insert in the pan. The cups of a popover pan are deeper and narrower than that of an ordinary muffin pan and they are spaced much farther apart too. This shape and space allows the heat to ideally circulate and plenty of room for the popovers to rise up and over the sides without touching as they bake (which can cause collapse).
Plenty of people successfully bake popovers in an ordinary muffin tin and I don't want to rain on their popover parade, but:
If you love real-deal popovers, I highly suggest you invest $15-$20 in a popover pan or two that will last you a lifetime!
Make as many popovers as you like, my recipe doubles, triples or quadruples with ease.
My recipe is a traditional one. These are the popovers I grew up eating and is the recipe I was given at the age of 21 or 22. That said, in the latter 1980's I encountered an ever-so-slightly different popover. It was on a trip to Dallas and I was lunching in the Zodiac Room of the flagship Neiman Marcus store. Their popovers, served with some sublime strawberry butter, were slightly denser and had a mushroomlike dome-shaped top. Yes, they were delicious, but, they weren't mine, and I could not quite put my finger on what the difference was. Much later, I came to learn that recipes such as theirs contain baking powder, which, cuts the baker a bit of slack. My grandmother would call it cheating. In all honesty, I do feel that traditionally made popovers really are crispier on the outside and creamier on the inside. You be the judge!
2 large eggs, well-beaten, no substitutions
1 tablespoon salted butter, melted, unsalted butter may be substituted
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, no substitutions
1/4 teaspoon + 1/8 teaspoon sea salt, kosher salt may be substituted
1/4 teaspoon + 1/8 teaspoon granulated sugar, no substitutions
1-1 1/2 teaspoons additional butter, for preparing pan, no substitutions
~ Step 2. In a 1-quart measuring container, place flour, salt and sugar. This type container makes it easy to mix in and pour from.
~Step 3. To the flour, add the milk, beaten eggs and melted butter. Whisk vigorously until mixture is thin, drizzly and smooth, about 1 minute, scraping the bottom to be sure all flour gets incorporated. Cover container with plastic wrap and set aside, at room temperature, for 1 hour.
~ Step 8. Bake on center rack of preheated 400-410 degree oven for exactly 30 minutes.
Note: Some recipes instruct to start baking in a hotter oven (450 degrees) then lower the temperature halfway through the cooking process (to 375-350 degrees). I have a BIG problem with that fluctuation in temperature, especially when I am baking multiple batches. I have been making popovers in a moderately-hot 400-410 degree oven and maintaining that temperature throughout the batch-baking process for years -- with NO compromise in the end result!
Do not open oven door for even one second to peek inside!!!
Special Equipment List: paper towel; popover pan(s); 1-quart measuring container; 1-cup measuring container; whisk; plastic wrap; hand-held immersion blender; cooling rack
"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2014)