Ever have something that you ate as a child but have never tried making yourself because you were worried it would burst the memory? That’s how popovers have been for me.
I remember on cold winter weekend mornings waking up to a bedroom window covered in ice and I’d lie in my bed not wanting to get up because I knew the minute my feet hit the floor I’d start to shiver. Then, just about the same time as the aroma wafted into my room, I’d hear my dad call from downstairs, “Popovers are ready.”
My feet didn’t care about the cold as I dashed downstairs for that first bite of popover slathered with butter and homemade jam. I can close my eyes now and see the sparkle in Dad’s eyes as the perfectly popped popovers came out of the custard cups. There were no such things as popover pans in the dark ages.
Just as there is today, there was the discussion as to whether you bake a popover starting with a very hot oven or put them in the cold oven and turn up the heat. Marjorie Standish, a cookbook author and food columnist for a Portland, Maine newspaper said “cold oven.” The Fannie Farmer cookbook (a million years old) said to use a cold oven but everyone else I read said hot. Some even said pre-heat the popover pan too, similar to what you’d do with a Yorkshire pudding.
Dad always used a cold oven and I thought, “What the heck, it worked for him and I’m going for food memories,” so in the cold oven they went after resting for about 30 minutes. Just as I did when I baked my first macarons with feet, I stood at the oven window.
“Will they pop?”
“Am I wasting my time?”
“Can dad see this?”
Then the phone rang and I left the oven window. I’d set the timer for 7 minutes before baking should end (just to ensure the oven wasn’t hotter than it should be) and when the timer started to ring I got off the phone and gritted my teeth before turning on the light in the oven.
They popped! Not only did they pop but they were huge!
When they were finally done baking, I pulled them out and started photographing. Normally you’d take them out of the pan right away so they wouldn’t sweat but I needed photos. Once the pan photos were done, it was time to see if they were hollow inside. Hollow is good and perfect for tearing apart and adding butter and jam.
They were hollow!
There I was in the kitchen talking aloud to my father who’s been dead since 1987. “Happy Father’s Day, Walt! I made popovers your way.”
My sister arrives from New York in a week or so and I need to get up to speed with family recipes.
- 2 eggs
- 7/8 cup of milk
- 1 cup of sifted flour
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp melted butter
- Sift salt and flour
- Beat eggs slightly
- Add Milk, Butter and flour and mix to make a smooth batter (I used a blender because that’s what my dad used)
- Fill cold, greased popover pan or custard cups about half full – divide the batter into 6 popover cups
- Set aside for 10 minutes (can be mixed the night before and left in the refrigerator)
- Place in a cold oven and set the temperature for 200C / 400F and bake for 50 minutes.
- If you must use a pre-heated oven, bake for 45 minutes.