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Popovers

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

Popovers are a treat for breakfast, lunch, or dinner—an old-fashioned surprise. For best results, try to find popover pans where the metal cups are connected by a little bar. Alternatively, use individual Pyrex cups set on a baking sheet or a cast iron muffin pan (¾-cup size). A baking tip: If you peek at the popovers before 30 minutes, they may appear to be done, but the center will be doughy and heavy if you take them out too early.

NotesPopover Memories

From my car radio recently, I heard the voice of a woman rhapsodizing over popovers of all things. And as I pushed my way through the traffic, I began to rhapsodize, too. The mere idea of making popovers brought back the sweetest memories of my father, the person I most loved being with in the kitchen. It was the only time I had him to myself. Since we both rose early, he kept me out of mischief by cooking with me. Our repertoire was small—it included only popovers. He listened to wrestling matches with my brother and drank martinis with my mother, but with me it was only popovers.

We experimented with recipes and with pans, deciding, after much deliberation, that a heavy iron muffin pan placed in a hot oven to warm up as the oven preheated was the best route to take. It was our science project, and no matter what my mother, the real cook of the family, said, we knew we had a winner on our hands. She was always after us to add cheese or mushrooms. Nancy Knickerbocker was a demanding perfectionist in the kitchen. I will have to admit that my love of cooking is due largely to her influence, but that didn’t mean it was fun to be in the kitchen with her. There was one way to do things, and she had little tolerance for any deviation.

So my father and I had to get into the kitchen early enough to pull off our culinary pursuit, uncensored. We worked as she slept. Our mission never varied, it always involved the same recipe. And our popovers popped high, up over the sides of the black pan, without my mother’s input. The popover’s interior was airy and buttery. And I, lover of everything crispy and crunchy, ate only the tops. It was allowed; they were mine. My father ate them with Dundee Marmalade and a cup of strong tea. I ate mine with salted butter. Since popovers need to be eaten as soon as they come out of the oven, my father and I would eat the lot if my brother and mother didn’t get up in time

If I could go back for one hour with my father, who died 20 years ago, it would be on a Saturday morning in the kitchen, with that sweet, doughy smell swirling around us.

6 servings

Cooking Methodbaking

CostInexpensive

Easy

Total Timeunder 1 hour

Make Ahead RecipeYes

Kid FriendlyYes

One Pot MealYes

OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Family Get-together

Five Ingredients or LessYes

Mealbreakfast, brunch, dinner, lunch

Taste and Texturebuttery, light, savory

Type of Dishquickbreads

Ingredients

  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus 2 tablespoons for greasing pan
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1½ cups whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Remove the top rack from the oven; the popovers will be baked on the lower rack.

  2. Grease each cup of the popover pan generously. (If using iron muffin pans, place them in the oven to preheat and butter them carefully once hot.)

  3. Using a rotary beater or a whisk, beat all of the ingredients together until smooth. Using a ladle, fill the prepared cups halfway full with batter.

  4. Bake in the bottom third of the oven for about 30 minutes, or until the popovers are golden and light. Serve at once; they fall quickly.

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