When I was a little girl, I believed my Grandpa James was a great wizard. If I woke up early enough while visiting his beach home, and I crept quietly to the stair landing of the loft where we slept, I could watch him work his magic in the kitchen below.
Somehow, through the sheer diligence of his rituals — working only in the quiet hush of dawn; pre-warming the muffin pans and coating them with melted butter; whispering secret incantations; and never, never, never opening the oven door during baking — this man managed a wondrous alchemy. Before my very eyes, my Grandpa transformed mere flour, milk, salt and eggs into a magical, mystical and wonderfully tasty soufflé which we humbly called: The Popover.
For me, now going on forty, a warm bite of popover slathered with real butter remains an anchor, a touchstone. Through meals upon meals, from those breakfasts down the shore, to a breakfast shared with my folks this past week, I have come to understand that the popover is capable of transcending generations and family lines.
I have eaten popovers every Christmas morning of my life. I have shared them with aunts and uncles, with cousins and siblings, with parents, grandparents and my own children, including a God daughter who must be related given her love of them. And we have all, each and every one of us, laughed at popovers that came out more like toilet bowls, and stood in awe of others that puffed to giant-proportions.
But fear not the toilet bowl: you no longer have to be a wizard to bake them. We have these great new-fangled things called popover pans that make it super easy. If you don’t happen to have a set (or the three my mother made sure she stocked my kitchen with), you can instead try out the Popover Pie modification listed below. This can count as a vegetarian dish, but it’s definitely not vegan, though I’m guessing you could use an egg substitute and soy milk.
1. Pre-heat oven to 425°.
2. Stir together 1-1/4 cups flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a medium-size mixing bowl. (Optional: add 1 teaspoon of cinnamon or cinnamon sugar.)
3. Add 1-1/4 cups milk and with rotary beater or whisk, beat until well-blended. Do not over beat.
4. One at a time, add 3 eggs, beating in each until completely blended.
5. Pour the batter into popover cups*, filling 3/4 full.
6. Bake at 425° for 20 minutes.
7. Reduce oven temperature to 325° and continue baking for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown.
8. Serve immediately, piping hot from the oven: a cold popover is as my kids say, “Yucky.” Pairs nicely with butter, jelly or for a heavier meal, put ham and cheese in the middle after cooking, like a sandwich.
*You can also try making one big popover in what my family calls Popover Pie, following the above recipe with some modifications. Using a casserole dish, place a few pieces of butter in it and pre-heat the pan while you are pre-heating the oven to 425°. Take care to avoid burning the butter. Make sure the melted butter covers the entire bottom of the pan. For your batter, use a ratio of 1 egg: 1/4 cup flour: 1/4 cup milk. Use less for a small pan, more for a bigger pan. I tend to use a 3-quart casserole pan and 3 eggs, 3/4 cups flour and 3/4 cups milk. Add salt (and optional cinnamon or cinnamon sugar). Bake at 425° for 25 minutes or until top has popped and is golden brown. Will deflate when cut.
This recipe is offered in total rebellion as part of Recipe Rites.
© Jennifer S. and harvestliberty.net, 2012.