Some recipes need a second chance. Sometimes, all it takes is a different list of ingredients or change of environment. Both can act as a breath of fresh air to a food experience you hastily labeled unspectacular – or simply dull. Popovers are my prime example here, I had some rather unsatisfying samples more than ten years ago on a road-trip through Georgia and have done my best to not give them the time of day ever since. Until our recent stay in Carmel-by-the-sea, where we had booked a room at the Cypress Inn, co-owned by Hollywood icon Doris Day. (confession: I love Doris Day movies. Always have, always will!)
Breakfast at hotels is not always a pleasurable experience, we usually opt for small coffee places instead. ‘Glad we gave the Cypress Inn’s breakfast a try though! The best fruit salad I have been served in ages (all kinds of berries and melons) and warm almond croissants that were loaded with slivered almonds and very buttery in taste. I was just emptying my second fruit bowl, when an older lady alerted us to the basket with warm popovers, that had just arrived from the kitchen.
So why not? Although my hunger had already been fed, I gave them a try, the lady’s recommendation (eat with extra butter!) still reverberating in my ears. Not having anything in common with what I had tasted earlier under the name of “popovers”, they immediately made me regret my decade-long aversion. The slightly salty taste and the crispy crust were begging to be smothered with butter and jam! And so I – already full, remember? – ate three of them. Logically, back home they were the first item to check off my list of dishes I wanted to recreate in my own kitchen. While I still need to perfect my cheese variation, these basic popovers recipe is my favorite so far:
Preheat your oven to 220°C (~425° Fahrenheit). Important: All ingredients should be at temperature.
Lightly grease a popover (muffin) pan with the 1 tablespoon of butter (or clarified butter), it’s best to use your fingers here. Don’t overdue it (too much butter), otherwise the popovers might not rise as high.
In a large bowl whisk together the melted (and cooled down) butter, eggs, milk and salt, then add the flour all at once and whisk until the batter is smooth and there are no lumps visible anymore. I do the whisking by hand, some recipes recommend a blender – either way, it’s important to not overwork the batter.
Now place the greased pan in the oven for 2 minutes, this helps to boost the popovers rising afterward. Meanwhile fill the batter into a beaker or jar that allows you to easily fill the pan without much spillage.
Take the pan out of the oven (very hot! be careful!) and quickly divide the batter between the cups, each cup should be filled up to about 2/3. Empty cups can be filled with some water, for protection, but that’s not crucial. Bake on middle level for about 20 minutes, then the popovers will already have risen beautifully. Now reduce the oven temperature to 180-190°C (350-375°Fahrenheit) and bake for an additional 15 to 20 minutes. Don’t be tempted to open your oven, otherwise the popovers might collapse! When using a pan for 12 regular-sized muffins, the total baking time should be around 35 to 40 minutes.
Remove the pan from the oven and immediately unmold the popovers. If you pierce each of them with a sharp knife, this will allow the steam to escape so they can keep their crispness a little longer. Serve warm with butter and your favorite jam. Or brush with some melted butter and roll in (cinnamon) sugar while still hot for an extra sugar kick (gotta love David’s version!).
Recipe source: adapted from various recipes
Prep time: ~15 minutes, baking time: ~35-40 minutes
Ingredients (for 8-12, depending on pan size)
~1 tbsp unsalted butter or clarified butter for the pan
15 g/ ~1 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 eggs (large)
250 g milk
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
125 g all-purpose flour
serve warm with butter and jam