Popovers: Popping fresh and good

March 1, 2012 12:01 am
  • Popovers are easy to make and fun to eat.
    Popovers are easy to make and fun to eat.
  • Popovers.
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My chef-minded teenage grandson, Nate, vacationed with me this summer. Because we always cook together, I toyed with this hypothesis: Most boys like to blow things up. Nate is a boy who likes to cook. It follows that Nate might like to make some food that blows up. He did. So we made huge popovers. Pop! Pow!

In the sisterhood of baked goods, popovers are dramatic show-offs. They come to the table tanned, tall and puffy as a cloud. But tear away a piece of crisp crust and you see that they are mostly hollow inside with some eggy soft layers. Ho, ho, they seem to snark, gotcha that time, didn't I?

Despite their appearance, they are really easy to make. Made with the reliable bakers' quartet of flour, butter, eggs and milk, the mixture is similar to a crepe batter. The only finger-shaker caution is, for maximum pop, the batter must be the consistency of heavy cream and not overbeaten.

When you pour the batter into deep, narrow, muffin-like molds, think kitchen chemistry. As the surface of the batter bakes, it tightens and begins to set, trapping steam inside. There's nowhere for the steam to go but up, pushing and bulging its surface out as it goes until the oven heat bakes the popover firm.

Bake popovers in a metal muffin pan, individual custard cups, ramekins or a traditional, extra-deep popover pan. If you are a gadget and equipment geek, go for the special pan. But for most of us, storage of seldom-used equipment doesn't pay.

Some recipes specify putting the popovers in a cold oven at the start of the baking. Our recipes are best made in a preheated oven.

When you want to serve these, keep the rest of the menu simple. For a very special breakfast, serve scrambled eggs, bacon, melon, butter, jam and coffee with a basket of popovers.

Heat the oven to 375 degrees (or 350 degrees convection). Generously butter the cups with unsalted butter. If using custard cups, place them on a baking sheet.

Position a rack in the middle of the oven, and preheat to 425 degrees. Generously butter custard or cupcake pan cups and dust with flour. This will help the popovers cling to the sides as they rise. If using custard cups, place them on a baking sheet.

First Published 2012-03-01 00:41:37

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