Friday, February 29, 2008


Popovers have always been a bit of a tricky wicket for me. Sometimes they pop; sometimes they don't. Sometimes they stick to the pan so tenaciously that I'm tempted to take an axe to them. Occasionally, when I'm counting on them most, they're hard little rocks.

And sometimes, unexpectedly, they rise gloriously, and when they do, popovers are sublime.

How to achieve the perfect popover? I'm convinced it has more to do with gremlins than science. Although the concept is simple -- flour, eggs, milk, butter, and salt -- the execution has a lot of variables. Must the ingredients be at room temperature? Do you mix the batter vigorously, or treat it tenderly as if it were muffins or biscuits? Do you let the batter rest? Do you pre-heat the pan? Change the temperature mid-bake? And what sort of pan do you use: a deep popover pan, a regular muffin tin, or (as I used above) a tin sized for jumbo muffins?

Recently and with great reluctance I further increased the variables by revising the popover to conform to a low-cholesterol and low-saturated fat diet (the reasons for which are tragic but boring). So, no egg yolks and no butter. I feared total, dismal failure.

Check it out. They popped! And the taste and texture were great. Sure, they're a little less eggy, and someone with taste buds more perceptive than mine would call out the missing butter. But for me, they're divine.

Cross Your Fingers and Squint Popovers (to make them pop)

3 egg whites
1 1/4 cups half-percent milk
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (I have not yet tried whole-wheat, but I will.)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon zero-trans-fat butter substitute, melted (I used Smart Balance)

Whisk together the egg whites and milk. Stir in the flour and salt, then the melted non-butter. Let the bowl sit on top the stove while the oven pre-heats to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. (If your stove is like mine, it has a warm spot, good for bread dough and popover batter.) Pour batter into a greased 6-hole jumbo muffin tin and put in oven. Immediately reduce heat to 400 degrees. Bake 25 minutes or until they're browning and smell good. Remove from pan and eat immediately with maple syrup or jam, burning your fingers and mouth but enjoying every single bite.


Megan said...

I was just thinking about popovers recently, but I couldn't remember what they were called. Yours look great! I wonder if you could make smaller ones. I've got no jumbo muffin tins around here...

Anonymous said...

What is the difference between Popovers and Yorkshire Pudding (I know the later are made in the roasting pan in the beef juices, but are they the same ingredients?)
You have surely mastered the art of Popovers and also of making viewers wish they were there when they came out of the oven.

grumperina said...

Hey Anne - I tried to drop you an e-mail about your Pfaff, but it bounced back to me (twice). Do you have an alternate e-mail or something ? :)

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ColorJoy LynnH said...

I'm late to this post, but I also have had trouble with popovers. Mom's recipe didn't have fat in it at all, and it always worked.

I can't have wheat. I bake often with a mixture of buckwheat and rice flours. I have not made popovers work yet. May have to try your recipe next, with my own adjustments.

Worth a try... divine is the possible outcome!