Offbeat Bites: Popovers

Chef’s note: Popovers are a miracle in the baking world. Their batter contains no leaveners, yet they manage to “pop over” the sides of the mold, hence their name. The answer to this mystery lies in the power of steam – the inside of the perfect popover is basically one huge steam bubble. The batter has just the right elasticity for stretching around this steam bubble, and results in the classic empty shell-like appearance of the popover.

Popovers go well with herbed butters, jams, or hazelnut spreads. The batter itself can be modified as well, with herbs like chives or thyme. If you wish, you can dust the tin with powdered sugar or finely grated Parmesan cheese for some extra ‘oomph’.

Both muffin tins or popover tins can be used, but the popover tin is preferred for its shape. Any unfilled cups should be filled with water prior to baking, to prevent burning the tin.

This basic popover recipe makes 8 to 12 popovers, depending on how much you fill each cup.

If you would like to read more on the science of popovers, click here. If you would like inspiration for infused butters, click here. For a cheesy variation of this recipe, click here, or here for a sweet version.

Some popover recipes call for baking soda, but a true popover has no leavening. They taste better without the baking soda anyway.
Some popover recipes call for baking soda, but a true popover has no leavening. They taste better without the baking soda anyway.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of all-purpose flour

  • ½ teaspoon of salt

  • 2 large eggs

  • 1 ¼ cups of milk

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

 

Preheat oven to 450F. Grease a popover tin or a muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray.

It is suggested that all of your ingredients be at room temperature before whisking, but that is only precautionary.
It is suggested that all of your ingredients be at room temperature before whisking, but that is only precautionary.

Whisk together the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Whisk together the eggs, milk, and butter in a separate bowl.

The batter will be quite lumpy.
The batter will be quite lumpy.

Pour the egg mixture over the flour, and fold in until just blended.

You should get about 8 large popovers if you fill the cups ¾ full, or 12 small popovers with cups filled about ⅔ of the way.
You should get about 8 large popovers if you fill the cups ¾ full, or 12 small popovers with cups filled about ⅔ of the way.

Fill the cups ⅔ to ¾ full of batter.

Bake for 15 minutes at 450F, then reduce the oven temperature to 350F for the final 20 minutes or until the popovers are well-browned and crusty. Avoid checking on the popovers until the last 5 minutes of baking to prevent deflation.

It is important to slit the popovers, otherwise the hot steam will ruin the shells.
It is important to slit the popovers, otherwise the hot steam will ruin the shells.

Remove the popovers from the molds, then promptly cut a small slit into the tops of each popover before resting them on a cooling rack.

Serve immediately, with butter or jam.

All photos by Lauren Quinn.

 

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