I should probably not tell you how to make these. Then I could wow you by grandly presenting them next time you come over for dinner. There is something mysteriously magical about the inside of a popover...when I bought a popover pan recently, Reuben all but guaranteed my failure ("I don't think that's the kind of thing people make at home, Jame..."), and when I served them to friends last weekend, they literally oohed and aahed out loud at my success. But here's my secret: popovers are actually not impossible to make at all. They're totally simple, in fact. That magical hollow-yet-puffy-yet-crispy thing that happens? It just happens on its own without any - or despite any, I should say - meddling by me.
Popovers are a hollow type of roll similar to English Yorkshire pudding. They're satisfyingly doughy while simultaneously airy and light, leaving room in your belly for extra servings of dinner. But they're just as delicious served sweet...so if you have any leftover (which I doubt you will), you can serve them for breakfast with whipped cream or jam!
It's hard to believe that such exquisitely shaped masterpieces come from such humble ingredients, but the dough is simply made of flour, milk, eggs, and salt. And that's it. The key to success has to do with temperature and timing. The milk and eggs should be room temperature (warmed up if they're straight from the fridge); the pan should be preheated with the oven; and once they start baking, the oven door should be kept closed the whole time, so drafts don't deflate the magical puff process (or something like that). You can spruce up your popovers with flavors, such as chopped herbs, gruyere cheese, or chocolate chips...just sprinkle the flavoring on top of each cup of dough after you fill the pan and before putting them in the oven (about 3-4 Tbsp of cheese, herbs, or chocolate chips per popover). And yes, while a specialty pan is helpful, you can evidently make them in a regular cupcake pan instead- just only use the cups around the perimeter of the pan, to give the popovers space for air circulation and room to expand.
There are a myriad of specific popover techniques posted around the web...some require hot ingredients, some say cold, some demand hand mixers, one even required you to let the dough stand untouched for two hours before baking. This recipe adapted from Martha Stewart is simple and straightforward and worked well for me. But I'll let you in on a little secret: I've also made them from a Stonewall Kitchen brand box mix, and they were totally delicious...and still got ooohs and aaahs when I served them.
POPOVERS (makes 6)
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk, room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/4 teaspoons coarse salt
- Nonstick cooking spray
- If eggs and milk are straight out of the fridge, heat milk in a small saucepan just until small bubbles form around the edge, and submerge whole eggs in warm water for about 10 minutes. Preheat oven to 450 degrees with a nonstick popover pan on rack in lowest position.
- Mix salt and flour and set aside. Lightly whisk eggs, then add milk in a slow stream (especially go slowly if warm, so as to not cook the eggs), and whisk together until very frothy, about 1 minute.
- Add flour and salt to egg mixture, whisking by hand just until batter is the consistency of heavy cream with some small lumps and air bubbles remaining.
- Remove popover pan from oven and coat sides and tops of cups with cooking spray. (If using a standard muffin tin, only coat and fill the outer cups, and reduce baking time by 5 minutes).
- Fill popover cups about three-quarters full with batter. Bake 20 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and continue baking until golden brown and dry to the touch, about 20 minutes more. Don't open the oven door to peek while the popovers are baking!
- Popovers are best served warm - turn them out of the pan right away, as they tend to lose their crunch if they stay in the hot pan. If the rolls will be sitting, use a knife to poke a small opening in the top of each to let the steam escape and preserve their crispiness.
Yummmm. I would like to add that my husband Reuben was literally eating these off the counter as I photographed them just now. I guess it is the kind of thing people make at home, after all...
Give them a try! It's so satisfying! Or you can come over and I will wow you instead...
(all photos, jamie grill photography)