Sunday, October 19, 2008

Popovers

If you've never had straight out of the oven popovers, you don't know what you're missing. With just eggs, milk, flour, salt and butter, you get big puffs with a crisp exterior and an airy center. Actually, if they work out for you, there isn't much substance in the center--just thinly stretched pieces of the eggy, cream puff-like dough. If you've had gougeres, that's probably the best comparison, but these are airier, thanks to that popping effect.

I used to make them according to a recipe in King Arthur Flour's Baking Companion, which calls for mixing in a blender. This is easy for sure, but the King Arthur bakers recently re-jiggered their recipe and discovered that whisking the batter by hand makes the puffiest popovers. I came across the King Arthur blog describing the results a few days after Mike and I screwed up a batch of popovers by inaccurately halving it and ended up with leaden shells rather than light, crisp puffs.

It was total serendipity that I came across the King Arthur blog on the topic, and we tried them again the next weekend, this time with the correct measurements and the whisking method. Perfect popovers! The picture above looks just like the ones on their blog, where you can see the difference in puffiness with 3 different methods.

But aside from all the little details of my popover adventures, I just want to make one thing clear--you have to try these sometime! Sure you could make homemade dinner rolls with yeast and hours of rising time and kneading and shaping. Or you could just whisk together 5 ingredients and get a really delicious accompaniment to your meal. I love these as a starch with steak and salad or fish and roasted veggies. And plan for 2 or 3 popovers per person--they are very easy to eat (with butter, naturally).

The only thing to consider is coordinating the rest of the meal so you don't have to open the oven more than once (quickly) while they cook. It helps the popovers reach their fullest potential. Otherwise, there aren't many simpler ways to make a dinner feel special. After all the great fall cooking ideas you guys suggested in the comments for my last giveaway, I figured I should contribute something too!

I'm linking to the popover recipe on King Arthur's website. I followed it as written, but was just a little heavy-handed with the salt--as I tend to be when baking. They specify King Arthur flour in the recipe, but I used another brand and it worked great (but I do generally recommend all the KA flours).

I'm going to do another cookbook giveaway this week, so stay tuned! Remember, you can always sign up to receive new post delivered to your email box, so you won't miss anything. Just type your email address in the box below my picture in the left sidebar.

9 comments:

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

I always associate popovers with certain restaurants, and have never tried to make them at home. Maybe now's the time to try...

RecipeGirl said...

I've done popovers a couple of times. We like to have them with soup. I'd love to have an actual popover pan though... I've only made them in mini muffin pans!

Julie said...

Lydia: yes, I first had popovers at a restaurant, and then found out that they're easier to make than I could have imagined.
Recipegirl: you don't need a popover pan! Even the king arthur people say it's not necessary, and they sell one on their website. Mini ones would be fun...

Matt said...

I remember my first attempt at Yorkshire Puddings. I had spent a king's ransom on a rib roast and used the drippings from the pan to heat in the muffin tins. The final result was awesome. Huge, irregularly shaped puffs of light and airy goodness. Not too difficult but well worth the effort!

Julie said...

Matt: Ooh, sounds great! I've never tried Yorkshire pudding.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

When I was a kid, my parents would take us to this special steak house for our b-days, and the popovers were always my favorite part of the meal. I have got to make some soon.

nicole said...

I had my first popover this fall, in Maine, at the Jordan Pond House. The rest of lunch wasn't so great but, oh, those popovers. We doused them in butter and jam and ate them with tea and watched the rain blow in over the mountains and it was just perfect.

Rico said...

Nice fluffy pop overs... i'd just fill em with whipped brandy fresh cream and eat them...of course they are savouries but yours look to good to take second stage...they asking to be the stars...hehe

http://ricocoffeeshop.blogspot.com

Deano said...

Gosh, those popovers look amazing.......