Invite your friends to pop over for lunch

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Puffed tall with brown crusty outsides, plain popovers are good with butter and jam. (Carl Davaz/The Register-Guard)
Puffed tall with brown crusty outsides, plain popovers are good with butter and jam.
Puffed tall with brown, crusty outsides, plain popovers are delicious served with butter and jam.

When I serve popovers with soup for lunch, the reaction is almost the same from everyone: “I haven’t had those in years!” and/or “I love popovers!”

Puffed tall with brown, crusty outsides torn open to reveal a web of soft yellow insides, they were quite popular in the 1960s at dinner parties.

I remember my mother making them, but not often enough as far as the family was concerned. It was my job to make the accompanying butter balls, rolling chunks of butter between two ridged paddles.

The ingredients are fairly standard, though some recipes will add a tablespoon or so of melted butter. This is a butterless recipe copied from a recipe card in what looks like my high school handwriting with a slight tweak or two in the instructions.

There is some discussion as to whether to start with preheating the muffin pan. That way works, too, but I’ll stay with my tried-and-true recipe card.

This makes a plain popover, good with butter and jam. Or honey. Or orange marmalade. I’ve heard mention of drizzling in some maple syrup, maybe served with bacon or sausage.

If you want to take them to the savory side, mix in your favorite dried herbs, rubbing them a little between your fingers to release the fragrant oils and to make them a little finer.

Cheese is a nice addition, but if you mix the cheese into the batter, it might stick to the pan. If you fill all the cups with half of the batter (about 1/3 full), sprinkle on 1 tablespoon of cheese, then add the rest of the batter, you’ll end up with cheesy insides with less chance of sticking.

Even if I’ve greased the pan well, sometimes the popovers with still stick a bit. Loosen them with a table knife to make them release.

If you use ceramic or glass baking cups instead of a muffin tin, you’ll get more browning of the lower crust and a slightly thicker crust.

Popovers

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Grease well a 12-cup muffin tin. Beat or whisk all the ingredients together in a large measuring cup (at least 4 cups.) It’s OK if it has some little lumps.

Fill the cups 2/3 full. Place in a cold oven and set heat to 450 degrees. Do not peek for 25 minutes. (You can peek if your oven has a window.)

If the popovers are tall and well-browned, you can take them out. If they’re still a bit on the golden side, let them cook another 5 minutes. Serve immediately with lots of butter and jam. Honey would be good, too.

Variations: Add 1 teaspoon dried herbs (thyme, tarragon, mixed Italian spices) or 1 tablespoon finely minced fresh chives or parsley.

Grate finely 3/4 cup cheese (Parmesan, cheddar, Gruyere.) Fill muffin cups 1/3 full. Sprinkle each with 1 tablespoon cheese. Fill to 2/3 full. Bake as directed.