Abigail Cahill O'Brien

Bake the Popover You’re Waiting For

In Food on October 12, 2009 at 2:59 pm


The best thing about Neiman Marcus in the ’80s wasn’t the proliferation of shoulder pads.  It was eating a piping hot popover with strawberry butter in the cafe – and I’ve been chasing that pastry memory ever since. The fancy restaurant in my college town served a decent one, but at the time I didn’t have a tuppence for fancy restaurants. There is the NYC cafe built around the air/dough contradictions, but it’s so far uptown I never made it. And there’s the restaurant in my hometown that hands them out like dinner rolls, except they’re  often slightly burnt. Okay, maybe “chasing” is too energetic a term.  Sitting around waiting for a crispy, chewy, steamy, golden popover to fall in my lap wasn’t getting me far. This weekend, I stopped waiting and got baking.

When dealing with a confection as seemingly delicate as a popover, I turn to Cook’s Illustrated for a tried and true recipe. The good news is, they aren’t as tricky as they look.  I ended up modifying the CI recipe along the way based on my own oven’s temp and my taste preference. The original recipe is below, with my changes in bold.

Before we get to the main event, though, I must share my brother-in-law’s simple recipe for a quick homemade jam.  For a few weeks now raspberries have shown up in the CSA box.  Frankly, by this point in the season they look a little worse for the wear.  I send them along to my brother-in-law Brian, and he sends me back this jam.  This little arrangement is working out quite well.  If you don’t have a kind brother-in-law, here’s how he does it.


Brian’s Raspberry Jam

Place 2 pints fresh raspberries into a saucepan over medium heat.  Add 2 tablespoons boiling water from your kettle (just a little, the berries will release juice) and sugar to taste (between 1 and 6 teaspoons depending on how sweet the berries are).  Simmer until the mixture thickens.  Pour into jars and refrigerate.  If you boil the jars before filling, the jam will stay fresh longer in the fridge.


5thjoy’s Raspberry Butter

Beat 2 sticks of room temperature salted butter with 1/2 cup Brian’s jam.  Rejoice.

Cook’s Illustrated’s Popovers

1 cup whole milk
2 large eggs
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt (I increased the salt by half in my second batch)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
6-cup popover pan (My popover pan has 12 wells, so I doubled the entire recipe.)

1. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and the milk until well combined, about 20 seconds. Whisk the flour (I sifted the flour after measuring) and salt in a medium bowl and add to the egg mixture; stir with a wooden spoon or spatula just until the flour is incorporated; the mixture will still be lumpy. Add the melted butter. Whisk until the batter is bubbly and smooth, about 30 seconds. Let the batter rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. (I made mine the batter a day ahead and refrigerated.)

2. While the batter is resting, measure 1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil into each cup of the popover pan. Adjust an oven rack to the lowest position, place the popover pan in the oven, and heat to 450 degrees. After the batter has rested, pour it into a 4-cup liquid measuring cup or another container with a spout (you will have about 2 cups of batter). Working quickly, remove the pan from the oven and distribute the batter evenly among the 6 cups in the pan. Return the pan to the oven and bake for 20 minutes, without opening the oven door. Lower the heat to 350 degrees and bake until golden brown all over, 15 to 18 minutes more. (Because my popovers were beginning to burn at the tips, I lowered the oven to 300 degrees and only baked for 10 more minutes.) Invert the pan onto a wire rack to remove the popovers and cool for 2-3 minutes. Serve immediately.

  1. there is a restaurant around the corner from me called Popovers, and while theirs are delicious (they also serve w a flavored butter), yours look absolutely delectable. Must try.

    • You totally should Katie – they’re much easier than you’d think. You could throw a mean popover party . . .

  2. I am officially inspired to be a better cook.

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