One of nature's great wonders, popovers are made with just milk, eggs, and flour. Plus a little butter and sugar, if you're feeling sneaky. Whisk, pour into tins, and bake (no peeking!). A half hour later, you're rewarded with the most incredibly airy and crispy puffs you could ever imagine. Oh, and p.s., no popover tin required.
There's a lot of mythology surrounding popovers, but it really breaks down to simple food science. All the puffing action comes from the eggs in the batter, which propel the batter sky-high just as it starts to set. This makes a crispy shell with a hollow, custardy interior.
It's important to keep the ratio of ingredients consistent and that they're thoroughly combined into a very smooth batter. You also need to start the popovers in a very hot oven with a pre-heated pan to get them to puff, and then lower the heat halfway through to help them dry out. Without the drying step, the popovers steam and collapse when removed from the oven.
A few other popover tricks for you. Frothing the batter just before you pour it into the tins helps them puff to even more impressive heights. Cutting a slit in the bottom of each popover also helps steam to escape as they cool. Oh and yes, the lore about not opening the oven door is true: keep it closed closed during cooking to ensure a consistent oven temperature for the popovers to do their thing.
A popover tin will help you make popovers so big you could use them for sandwiches, but using a muffin tin is just fine. Both large and small popovers make an excellent addition to the table. I love them for breakfast with jam and honey-butter, but they also make a special treat to serve with dinner.
Ready for a popover party? Let's do it.
How to Make Popovers
Makes 6 large or 12 small popovers
What You Need
(8 ounces) whole or 2% milk
unsalted butter, melted and divided
(5 ounces) all-purpose flour
Blender or food processor OR whisk and a bowl
Popover pan OR Muffin tin
Make the Popover Batter: In a food process or blender, or with a whisk and a bowl, blend the milk, eggs, and one tablespoon melted butter until completely combined. Add the flour and the salt. Blend until frothy and bubbly.
Heat the Oven: Heat the oven to 450°F. Let the popover batter rest while the oven heats. This gives the flour time to absorb the liquid and gives the popovers a better texture.
Pour the Batter into the Pans: Put the popover tin or muffin pan in the oven for 2 minutes to warm. Remove from the oven and divide the remaining 2 tablespoons of melted butter between the cups. Whiz (or whisk) the batter one more time to froth it up again and then fill each cup halfway.
Bake the Popovers for 15 Minutes: Place the pan back into the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Do not open the oven door during baking (this causes the popovers to deflate).
Reduce the Heat and Continue Baking: Still without opening the oven, reduce the heat to 350°F and bake for another 15 minutes. Now you can open the oven door and check the popovers. Finished popovers will be golden-brown, feel dry to the touch, and sound hollow when tapped.
Prick with a Knife, Cool, and Eat!: Turn the popovers out onto a drying rack. Pierce the bottoms with a knife to allow steam to escape. Cool just enough so they can be handled and then eat immediately.
Making Popovers Ahead: Popovers are the best when they're fresh from the oven. But if you need to make them ahead, just warm them in a 350°F oven until warm and crispy again, about 5 minutes.
Freezing Popovers: Freeze baked popovers in an airtight bag or container for up to three months. To re-heat, place the popovers directly from the freezer into a 350° oven and bake until warm and crispy, about 8 minutes.
Other Ways to Make Popovers: While you should keep the ratio of milk, eggs, and flour about the same, you can add other flavoring ingredients to the batter. Try a few tablespoons of sugar for sweet popovers or a few teaspoons of herbs and spices for savory ones. Or you can really treat yourself and make cheesy popovers.
Recipe adapted from The Joy of Cooking.
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(Images: Emma Christensen)