I’d never heard of popovers until college, when Johnny and I were dating. While we were visiting his parents one time, his mom (my future mother-in-law!) made them for breakfast. I instantly fell in love with these airy delights — crispy on the outside, soft and a bit custardy on the inside, with a big air bubble in the middle, perfect for filling with a lot of butter, honey and jam. On their own, popovers just taste like butter and egg, but they are delicious with all sorts of toppings.
Once introduced to popovers, I couldn’t get enough of them. Every time we saw Johnny’s parents, I secretly hoped that MIL would make popovers (and more often than not, she did). When we lived in New York, we would frequent Popover Cafe for brunch on the weekends, smearing our popovers with strawberry butter and honey. As good as they were, though, they didn’t hold a candle to MIL’s popovers. 😉 Until very recently, I didn’t have the nerve to bake my own popovers. The list of ingredients is short — whole milk, flour, a pinch of salt, eggs — but they seemed so mysterious, what with the huge air bubble inside. What if they collapsed? What if they were leaden? I didn’t want to be responsible for baking up a batch of terrible popovers.
A couple of weeks ago, my brother-in-law mentioned during a double date that he had baked popovers that morning, and Johnny kept talking about it: “Wouldn’t it be awesome if we had popovers too?” So, I decided to try my hand at them. I pulled out my trusty Best Recipe cookbook, the one where they test variations of recipes dozens of times to come up with the best version. As always, it served me well. I don’t have popover tins, but the recipe actually recommended a regular 12-cup muffin tin, and the popovers, though not as big as the ones my MIL makes in her popover tin, were airy, custardy and delicious. I liked them so much that I decided to write them up!
Popovers (from The Best Recipe cookbook)
- 1 cup flour
- 1 cup whole milk (use whole; the fat is necessary to hold the signature air bubble that develops while baking)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon of butter, melted, for the batter
- Additional melted butter for brushing muffin tins (no more than 1/2 tablespoon)
- 12-cup muffin tin
- 2-cup measuring cup
- Pastry brush
Position the oven rack on the lowest position (unless you have an electric oven where the heating source is on the bottom; in that case, you’ll want to position the rack more on the top). Put the muffin tin in the oven, then preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Popovers work best when the tin is preheated.
Whisk together the flour and salt. Set aside.
Dump the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients all at once. Whisk until just combined. The batter will be lumpy. Pour the batter from the bowl back into the measuring cup for easy filling of the muffin tin.
Slide the muffin tin into the oven and bake at 450 degrees F for 20 minutes. Then, without opening the door, lower the temperature to 350 degrees F and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes (if your oven runs hot, you might want to reduce this time). You can turn on the light to check on the popovers’ progress, but resist opening the door, or they’ll collapse. The popovers are done when they are a deep golden brown.
Take the tin out of the oven, remove the popovers, and serve immediately with butter, jam and honey. My kids love to pour honey straight into the hole on the bottom of each popover, but I split them open to put on toppings.