I was ready to hang myself Sunday, after the fifth batch of popovers bombed. I can make these suckers in my sleep, but for some reason the magic failed me. We were prepping the new menu at Billy’s Seafood Company. Each member of Billy’s kitchen team was knocking the new menu items off the list when everything came to a grinding halt. Instead of mile-high, souffle-like, bready things we pulled dense, slightly popped, bullets from the oven. Five times! The thing that’s frustrating is we’d all made popovers successfully in the past. To alleviate everyone’s stress, I took them off the menu. The last thing a busy kitchen needs is a might-fail recipe. To figure out what happened, I wrote today’s post.
The challenge with baking is sticking to the recipe. Because I’m rewriting recipes constantly, I struggle with staying with what works. Case in point; the elusive fluffy, towering popover. If I had a nickel for every popover or Yorkshire pudding I’ve made, I’d have a lot of nickels! When my kids were little, they’d often say, “no beef for me Mom, just the bread.” They loved pouring gravy into the billowy waves of soft, custardy bread. If they had tried to do that this past Sunday, the gravy would have bounced off. So, let’s try this again…
Popovers are mixed like pancakes, but have a thinner consistency.They have a high egg content, which makes them thicken as soon as the batter hits the hot oil. see below As the popovers bake, steam builds up inside them, pushing the batter upward. I use a popover pan which has really deep cups. If you use a muffin tin, they’ll still pop, but also spread out, so they won’t be as high.
I use nonstick spray to grease my popover pan. Greasing the pan makes sure that your popovers won’t stick and helps them turn a golden brown. I pour oil in the bottom of each cup which creates a crisp outer crust with the inside a bit hollow and custardy. After you’ve prepared your pan, place it in the oven while it preheats. Once your pan is nice and hot, fill the cups just over half full. You add the popover batter to a hot pan because the moment the batter hits the hot metal, steam begins to form. The idea is to create as much steam as possible. The more steam, the taller the popovers.
Once your popovers are in the oven, NO PEEKING!
You will absolutely jeopardize your popovers’ chances of being awesome, if you release any of the oven’s heat by opening the door to take a look. Hopefully, your oven has a glass window you can look through to watch the magic. If not, trust my recipe and wait 20 minutes before you open the oven door. If you prefer a softer, more custardy interior, pull them out at twenty minutes. If you like a crispier outer shell, give them an extra 5 minutes. To keep your popovers from collapsing, once they leave the oven, poke a little hole in each of the tops with a small knife.
I have no idea what I was doing wrong Sunday. Happily, today the universe is back in order and things popped perfectly!
POPOVERS WITH BUTTERMILK AND EVOO
Makes 6 large popovers
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 4 eggs
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil + 6 tablespoons for the cups
- Preheat the oven to 425* F.
- Pour 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil in each of the cups of a popover pan and place in the oven while it preheats.
- In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour and salt.
- In a liquid measuring cup, whisk the buttermilk, olive oil and eggs to combine well.
- Add the milk mixture to the flour whisking until a pancake-like batter forms.
- Remove the hot pan from the oven, and divide the batter between the cups of the popover pan.
- Bake the popovers, without opening the oven, until they are golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes.
- When you remove the popovers from the oven, puncture each on the top with a sharp paring knife to release the steam inside.
- Serve the popovers warm.
THE LOVE: Leftover popovers can be stored in an airtight container up 2 days, and re-warmed in the oven for the best results.
Thanks for reading.