Popover perfection



One of the tricks to making perfect popovers is lowering the oven temperature to 350 degrees F after initially baking them for 18 to 20 minutes in a 450-degree F oven. PHOTO BY CHERYL WIXSON
One of the tricks to making perfect popovers is lowering the oven temperature to 350 degrees F after initially baking them for 18 to 20 minutes in a 450-degree F oven. PHOTO BY CHERYL WIXSON

My mother loves popovers; crisp, light and golden brown, with a delicate puffed center, hot from the oven, dripping with butter and jam.  A sublime combination of eggs, milk and flour that makes any dining occasion special.

Perfect popovers are a snap to prepare too. Or so I thought.

When I volunteered to whip up a batch of popovers to accompany our clam chowder for supper, I learned that perfect popovers are not always quite so easy.

For decades now, I’ve been making popovers and finally have it down to a science.  My recipe originates from the 11th edition of “The Fanny Farmer Cookbook.” I like to use the blender method of preparation, eggs at room temperature, and dedicated popover pans.

First, set the oven on 450 degrees F.  Add a small amount of butter to each cup of the popover pan.  Melt the butter briefly in the oven, and then spread it generously around the pan.

Add the eggs, milk and salt to the blender, pulse to mix, then add the flour, scraping down the sides and mix at high speed for about 15 seconds. The batter should be like heavy cream.  Pour into the pan, each about one third full, and then bake in the oven.

After about 20 minutes, the mixture should puff and you know, pop.  The color will be a nice and toasty, golden brown.  This is when the oven temperature is reduced to 350 degrees F to finish baking the inside of your perfect popovers.

Except this batch of popovers never puffed.  They were dead in the pan, a glutinous mass of inedible dough.

Puzzled by this phenomenon, I double-checked my recipe.  It’s so simple, what can possibly go wrong?  Once the 450-degree heat from the oven hits those eggs, they should puff….unless of course they are duck eggs.

Duck eggs are prized by bakers for their yolks, which are larger than those of the chicken egg. The white, which is thicker and more viscous than its chicken counterpart, does not whip up into meringue or make good popovers.

The second batch, made with chicken eggs, was perfect.

Cheryl Wixson lives and cooks in Stonington. She welcomes food-related questions and comments at [email protected]

Perfect Popovers

1 cup milk

1 cup all purpose flour or whole wheat pastry flour

2 chicken eggs

¼ tsp. salt

1½ Tbsps. butter

Set the oven on 450 degrees F.

Dot about ¼ tablespoon of butter in each of the cups of the popover pan.  Slip the pan in the oven for 30 seconds to melt the butter.  Once melted, generously grease the cups of the popover pan with the melted butter.

In the jar of your blender, beat the eggs with the milk briefly.  Add the flour and salt and blend at high speed until just blended, about 15 seconds.  Be careful not to over mix.  The batter should be the consistency of heavy cream.

Pour the batter into the greased popover pan.  Bake in the 450-degree oven for 18 to 20 minutes, until the popovers have “popped.” Turn the oven down to 350 degrees F and bake until they are golden brown and crispy on the outside, about 18 to 20 minutes longer.

Remove from pan and serve at once.  Popovers keep for a day or two and may be reheated in a 350-degree oven.

Nutritional analysis per popover:  141 calories, 6 grams protein, 18 grams carbohydrates, 5 grams fat, 160 mg. sodium, 1 gram fiber.

 

Cheryl Wixson
"Maine Dish" columnist Cheryl Wixson lives and cooks in Stonington. Her passion for organic Maine products led to the creation of her business, Cheryl Wixson's Kitchen. She welcomes food-related questions and comments at [email protected] or www.cherylwixsonskitchen.com.

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