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Popover!

Popover!

Popovers may be my favorite food, even more so than my beloved fresh pasta.

Popovers and I go way back.  I have been making them since I was about nine years old. They were my original “piece de resistance” recipe.

When I was ten, I wrote Santa a letter begging him for some proper popover tins.  Mom’s muffin tins were adequate, but I knew the narrower and taller shape would make the popovers even more dramatically tall. Santa came through that year, but made sure to attach a note that specified that my new tins were from Mrs. Claus. I happily ran off to the kitchen to try them out and ignored my other presents. Why was a ten year-old so intent on a piece of kitchen equipment?

The summer before, I had found a tattered old cookbook, The Fannie Farmer Cookbook, in a cupboard at my godmother Charlene’s cottage. I asked her if she would bake something from it with me and we decided on popovers. The recipe was simple and in no time we had them in the oven. Thirty-five minutes later something magical emerged. What I had expected to be some muffin-like baked goods had popped over into something incredible. We cracked them open and devoured them with jam. They were eggy, warm, buttery and amazing. I was instantly smitten.

When I returned home, I found the same recipe in Marion Cunningham’s The Fannie Farmer Baking Book. A little later I was watching Baking with Julia and there with Julia was Marion Cunningham making her signature popovers. My childhood heroine with my new popover goddess! I had to learn to make this amazing food for myself! So with the determination that only a child possesses, I set out to master the popover and soon I was begging Santa for the proper equipment.

I have been cooking popovers ever since and have tried many different recipes and techniques. This recipe always produces show-stopping popovers and the key is to start them in a warm oven pre-heated to 425°.  When I first started making them I swore by a cold oven start. After all, my first recipe was from Marion Cunningham and she said to place them in a cold oven. I have tried both methods many times and seem to have the best results with a warm oven. The popovers are bigger and crispier on the outside. Still, if you forget to preheat your oven, never fear. Simply pop them in and turn your oven to 425° and follow the rest of the directions. They will still be delicious.

Popovers (Makes six to eight popovers)

  • 1 cup all-purpose white flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1¼ cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • optional: ¼ cup grated Gruyere cheese
  • optional: fresh herbs to taste

Preheat your oven to 425°. Bring all ingredients to room temperature. Butter a popover tin or six ramekins.

Mix flour and salt together in a mixing bowl. Set aside.

In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, butter and milk. (Add cheese and herbs at this point.)

Pour liquid ingredients over the flour mixture. Fold until just combined. Do not overbeat. Some lumps may remain.

Fill the popover tins one-half to two-thirds full. Put water into any unfilled popover cups.

Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes at 425°. Then turn your oven down to 350° and bake for an additional 20 minutes.

Remove popovers from oven and remove them from the tin. Puncture a small hole in all of the popovers to all the steam to escape and keep the insides from getting gummy. Serve immediately.

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