As I shared with you two weeks ago, January’s baking challenge is popovers. I’m trying as many different recipes as my waistline can stomach in the quest for the perfect, or almost-perfect, popover recipe.
For my first attempt I used the high detailed and technical recipe from The Bread Bible to create popovers that were extremely high, deep brown, with an abundant brown crust. But the popovers were almost too successful; they were all crust, without enough springy, soft centers that I love so much in a good popover.
So for my next baking attempt I decided to go old school, using the popover recipe from the Joy of Cooking. I inherited my edition from my grandmother, which is from 1975, and the recipe is refreshingly simple. There’s no special flour to buy, no letting the batter sit for two hours, no notes about the virtues of using whole milk in the batter. Not that I don’t love the great detail and precision of Shirley O’Corriher or Rose Levy Beranbaum, but sometimes the Joy of Cooking’s simple, reassuring style is a nice change.
I did make a couple of changes to the recipe, upping the amount of salt from 1/4 teaspoon to 1/2 teaspoon, since I like my popovers salty. I also used Beranbaum’s technique for baking the popovers. Rather than pouring the batter into a cold buttered pan, which the original Joy of Cooking recipe calls for, I heated the buttered pan in the hot over for three minutes, before pouring in the batter. This helps create steam from the milk in the batter and helps the popovers rise.
The result? These popovers didn’t have the impressive towers of Beranbaum’s creations, but had the lovely soft, eggy centers, which I just adored. Even though these were much lower tech, I actually liked them more. Now if only I could make a popover that has the right proportion of brown crust to soft center, and I’d be in popover heaven.
Adapted from The Joy of Cooking
1 cup milk
1 tbs melted butter, plus more for greasing the pan
1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 beaten egg
1 additional beaten egg
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Make sure all your ingredients are at room temperature. If you must cheat, heat your milk until just cool to the touch in a microwave and heat your eggs by placing in a bowl of hot water, replacing the water once or twice if necessary.
Beat the milk, butter, flour, and salt together until just smooth. Add the beaten eggs one at a time, beating until just incorporated. Do not overbeat the batter.
Generously butter a muffin tin or popover pan and place in the oven to 3-5 minutes. Remember, you want the pan to heat up and the butter to brown, but not burn, so keep an eye on the pan. As I found out last time, burning the butter means cleaning the pan and starting over again, which is a pain!
Remove the pan from the oven and pour the batter into the buttered baking cups. Immediately place the pan back in the oven. After 15 minutes, lower temperature too 350 and bake 20 minutes longer. During the entire baking process do not open the oven, or your popovers will fall!