Feature Writer Karen Crowder – Making the Perfect Popovers

For those who are unaware, popovers are hollow, crispy, muffin-like creations leavened with eggs.  Many people mistakenly believe that popovers are difficult to make, but they are surprisingly simple to prepare with only five ingredients.

How did I discover these delightful muffin-like creations?   Well, on a snowy cold January morning in 1958, we were introduced to this treat at breakfast. The staff at Perkins was often introducing us to new foods like corn fritters, squash, or corn muffins, and suddenly these delicious flaky creations arrived.  I loved the crispy shells and eggy interior running with melted butter. They were so good, we had to have second helpings.  I was hooked, and at home we would occasionally make these. We would have them for breakfast, and as a desert, we filled them with ice cream and chocolate syrup.

Early attempts at making popovers independently yielded mixed results.  They stubbornly stuck to muffin tins and didn’t rise high enough.  Once, I over compensated by putting too much Crisco in the pans and set off the smoke alarm in my apartment.

I eventually found a foolproof recipe, “Unbelievable Popovers,” from a now out-of-print cookbook, “What’s Cooking in 39/99.”   The recipe lived up to its name and was loved by everyone.  In 2009, I tried a new recipe from “Baking Illustrated” and the results have been good.  I discovered that combining the two recipes makes truly perfect popovers.  The ingredients are from Baking Illustrated’s recipe, the method for baking them is from What’s Cooking in 39/99.  Baking Illustrated recommends heating pans first and filling them, but as a blind cook, I do not feel confident working with hot muffin tins starting them in a cold oven.   Cooking them at one temperature is safer and simpler.  Do not give up if they do not turn out perfectly–as the old saying goes, “practice makes perfect.”  Note: popovers can be made with low-fat skim or almond milk and spelt or whole-wheat flour.

Below is the recipe for these great popovers.  I have doubled the original recipe so it will make 18 to 24 popovers.  Cut the recipe in half to make eight to twelve.

Ingredients:

2 cups all purpose flour–Gold medal is recommended

1 teaspoon salt

4 large eggs

2 cups whole milk

2 tablespoons melted butter or margarine

Directions:

Put eggs and milk in a large mixing bowl, stir with wire whisk for 50 seconds.  In smaller bowl, briefly whisk flour and salt, then add it to the egg milk mixture.  Whisk for thirty to fifty seconds.  Add melted butter, stirring with a whisk for a few seconds, then a wooden spoon.  The batter should be smooth.  Let it rest for 30 minutes to develop the gluten.  While batter is resting, put about 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a small bowl.   

Use the oil to thoroughly grease inner bottom and sides of nonstick muffin tins.  After the thirty minutes are up, measure out half a cup of batter to fill each muffin tin until almost full.  Put them on the top rack in a cold oven.  Turn oven to 425 degrees and bake no longer than thirty minutes.

The popovers will expand dramatically and should be easy to remove from muffin tins.  Serve them immediately or re-heat them later in a toaster oven for five minutes. A hungry family will eat these in no time.  

Sources: Recipe from Baking Illustrated, Volume 2: Best Classic Recipes. Baking instructions came from What’s Cooking in 39/99, which is out of print. You can still buy Baking Illustrated from National Braille Press.   According to the most recent catalog this is now only available in eBraille, but check with NBP as they may still have Braille copies left.

Enjoy!

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