Pretty Near Perfect Popovers

I figured that if I was going to criticize the popovers at Popover Cafe, I’d better be able to make a pretty darned perfect one myself.

Given that I’d never done it before, I was a little nervous, so I scoured the web for recipes and advice before starting. And thanks to the Joy of Cooking, Mark Bittman, Ina Garten and all the great food bloggers out there who have preceded me on this adventure (see links at the end of this post), my popovers turned out to be pretty near perfect, and to my mouth, at least, much tastier than the ones at Popover’s Cafe.

Pretty Near Perfect Popovers

1 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup whole milk (I used lowfat mixed with a little half and half)
2 large eggs
1 tbsp melted butter, plus another tbsp to grease the pan
A little flour or sugar to dust the pan

Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Heat popover pan on a baking sheet in the oven for 5 minutes or so while combining the ingredients.

Make sure the milk, eggs and butter are at 70 degrees. (I heated the milk in the microwave then cooled in to around 70 or so degrees Fahrenheit).

Whisk flour and salt together in a bowl.

Whisk milk, butter and eggs together in a larger bowl.

Add flour to wet ingredients, whisking just enough to combine. It should be thin like cream and small lumps are okay.

Take popover pan out of oven and brush inside of cups with melter butter. Sprinkle a little sugar or flour on the cup inside walls. Pour in batter to 3/4 full. Place in oven so that the tops of the popovers will end up in the middle of the oven (My gas oven has the heat on the bottom).

Bake at 450 for 20 minutes. Do not open the oven door to peek (But if you have a glass door and a light, do look through the window and watch them pop!)

Lower heat to 350 and bake another 20 minutes. Remember, no peeking except through the glass!

Remove from oven and immediately from pan. Insert a sharp knife into popover to let the steam escape (And don’t worry – if they are done, they won’t collapse).

Serve warm with butter and jam.

Popover Thoughts and Questions

1. Should my popovers have popped a bit more? The little dent in the middle makes me think so, but my god, they were delicious!

2. I think may have over-filled the cups, since I ran out of batter before the last cup. That may be why I didn’t get that last “pop” on my popovers.

3. Does the manner of combination of ingredients matter? For instance, Joy of Cooking has you combine everything but the eggs and then beat in the eggs. Another recipe has you beating the eggs first till they are a light color and then adding the milk and melted butter. I wonder if it makes a difference…

4. I’ve read that sifting the flour makes for a better pop. Some recipes call for bread flour instead of all purpose. (Don’t use cake flour, though – it won’t make enough strong gluten to keep the popover risen.)

5. Most commercial popover recipes (Such as those from Jordon Pond Restaurant and Nieman Marcus) rely on baking powder, probably so they have a guaranteed pop. I think that’s contrary to the magic of popovers – the fact that they rise without leavening. The rise comes from the steam produced by the high proportion of liquid ingredients in the batter, supported by a sidewall strengthened by gluten.

6. This recipe from Apartment Therapy uses 1/4 cup more milk than mine, and what a gorgeous pop they got! It makes sense that more liquid might just help. So next time I will be sifting the flour, filling the cups only a little more than halfway and using a bit more milk (whole milk this time). Will post the results.

Popover Links

  • The Perfect Popover by Lynn Bonnett– Everything you need to know is here.
  • Joy of Baking – This apple popover looks delish!
  • Christy at All Recipes– Nice photos and great comments
  • Chowhound– Nice discussion on technique in the comments section
  • One More Moore— Another blogger inspired by Popovers Restaurant. Gorgeous popovers!
  • Popover Science– Answered a lot of my questions.
  • Popover variations – Try Lemon-Scented, Cheese, and Gluten-free.
  • Michael Pollen uses whole wheat + white flour, and still gets a pop.
  • Obama is like a popover. Discuss.

    Of course, since this is an election year, I can’t ignore this post from Valentine Bonnaire comparing Obama to a Popover…

    That thin crispy shell on the outside and nothing but a cavern of hot air inside. Popovers — another example of something with all of the audacity of nothingness. They taste good while you are consuming them, but there just isn’t a whole lot there is there?

    I beg to differ. A popover is not a lot of nothingness – it has lots and lots of delicious flavor. And if Obama is like a popover, well, then it’s because he is taking politics to a higher level. A popover has to have a strong crust to hold itself up there, and he’s got that. And if he needs a little butter and jam to make him perfect, well that’s just fine with me. We’ve got plenty of that.

16 Responses to Pretty Near Perfect Popovers

  1. If you ever need a taster, I’d be honored to offer my services. Seriously, I have excellent taste buds, most sensitive and exquisitely happy to try new foods!

    (Those looked yummy; I’ve only had popovers once; they weren’t on my childhood menu.)

  2. Wow those look AMAZING. And what a surprise that they require no leavening agent? I had always assumed they did… I might try your recipe! 🙂

  3. These look lovely. They are very like Yorkshire Puddings, which we in the UK would have with gravy as part of a roast dinner. The only difference is that you would fill the Yorkshire Pudding tin with goosefat or olive oil and heat it until it smoked, so that when you pour the batter in it rushes up the side. But I must say I have never thought of having them with butter and jam before. WANT.

  4. OMG, those look so good! I want to run out and buy a popover pan and try it! As for Obama as popover, I say no! Maybe a petit brioche, which has an outer crust that is a lot like a popover, but a bread-y interior, but not an empty shell!

  5. Try letting the batter rest for an hour to hydrate the flour better. This will insure full inflation by encouraging self-assembly of gluten.

    Another retrotastic option is to try Wondra flour (in the blue box or round shaker can). It’s heat-treated in a way that encourages near-instant hydration, and makes killer popovers.

    These look divine. One of my favorite things to dress popovers with is a compound butter. Dried apricot/amaretto is a fave at Chez Pragma.


  6. I can’t decide which I’d prefer more: one of those popovers, or Obama. Hmm…how about popovers with Obama? (That could be a great campaign fundraiser!)

    Just so I can really imagine how they taste, do you use salted or unsalted butter when you smear them with jelly?

  7. “Obama is like a popover. Discuss.”

    That was the best political comment I’ve read all day (not to say that I’ve been reading political commentary all day, ‘cuz I haven’t….)

    And, yeah, those popovers look tasty!

  8. Jam-and-butter-whirled in the cuisinart make an acceptable compound butter. Better than out-of-season strawberries any time.

    These are, incidentally, ridiculously delicious made with bacon fat, sending them a bit more towards the savory side. It’s like a breakfast Yorkshire pudding.

    That’s just me; full of suggestions. . . .


  9. Bardiac – Okay, you’re on. Shall I send some over to Japan?

    Dr Val – If you’re going to make them try the recipe from Apartment Therapy that uses a little more milk and tell me how it went. I have a feeling that is a better recipe, though I will try it next weekend and let all know.

    RL – Too bad – there were none leftover, we devoured them!

    Katy – I’ve been reading about people having them with dinner, it seems so strange, but I’ll be t they are delicious anytime.

    Anon- Hmm… brioche. I wonder how to make those?

    Eric – Why am I not surprised you ahve a good suggestion? I did read on one of the links about refrigerating the dough – will do next time. As for the butter, I actually wanted to use strawberry butter, but had no strawberries to make it.

    Dr Smak –

    I’d have popovers with Obama anytime 🙂 I think I used unsalted butter, but there is salt in the batter. They are not very sweet, but very delish.

    Maria – If you like this discussion, wait till you see my post tomorrow… 🙂

  10. Sure!

    It just occurred to me: you have special popover things to make these in? (I think that separates real cooks from people like me who wonder why our waffles come out flat on the griddle, eh?)

  11. You just need metal cups of some sort. They’re delicious made in cupcake tins – the spread is a little wider/squattier, but they’re still lovely.

    The City of Paris/Neiman-Marcus in SF has delicious popovers – criminally delicious.

  12. Bardiac – I used a popover pan – see it in the open oven pictures. $16.99 at Bed Bath and Beyond.

    Eric -Neiman Marcus uses baking powder in theirs, which I sort of think is cheating. However, I have the recipe up there in the links.

  13. I’m not above a little chemical enhancement. I wonder about using a touch of ammonium carbonate (hartshorn). I use it in pate choux all the time to get more impressive volume with a crisp texture. Since it sublimates rather than reacts, it doesn’t leave a residue that you can detect.

    The downside is, of course, that the kitchen is not filled with smells of deliciousness – it’s filled with smells of Windex.

    If you haven’t played with this leavening, you should. You can’t make vanilla dreams without it, and they’re the homemade cookie with a texture like no other.


  14. Thank you for linking to my post on popovers (the cheese one)! As eric says, resting the batter is important. I also see you placed the popover pan on a baking sheet. I did that when I first made them for my client and they didn’t rise as much. I then placed it directly on the rack and they did much better. Good luck!

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