My wife and I used to have a naughty routine. (Get your minds out of the gutter.) We’d toss our diets aside on Friday mornings for a popover at Pie in the Sky in Woods Hole.
But Pie has taken the winter off, and, well, Fridays haven’t been as light, flaky, and custardy since.
And then the January/February issue of Cook’s Illustrated arrived, and there on page 15 was a little piece of Pie in the Sky staring back at us off the page. That page got marked, and we read no further. It was time to give these a try.
They looked really simple — some bread flour, salt, 1½ cups of 2 percent or low-fat milk heated to 110° to 120° degrees, 3 large eggs, and salted butter. That’s it.
You can use muffin tins, and that’s what we did to begin with — see photograph. We got decent lift, and they were delicious, especially fresh out of the oven.
It was Saturday night, and with a lot of our friends and relatives at their own homes sipping wine and cocktails, I was able to tease them with a photo and the line, “Wish you could popover.”
Anyone who knows me well knows I love a good pun. This one worked on so many levels. What I wouldn’t give to popover to a friend’s house with a half-dozen of these gems, but alas, the pandemic is keeping us all in our places.
My social media got a lot of play, and, honestly, a fair amount of jealousy. (I think that’s why Connie Berry assigned this to me.)
Although the popovers were good, we just wondered if we could make them even better. We’re always ones to tinker with recipes.
We’re fortunate to live close to the LeRoux Kitchen store in Falmouth, where we found an actual popover pan. This time my wife used both the full amount of liquid milk, and added one tablespoon of powdered milk for a chewier texture (see, we’re tinkering again) and followed the other directions as she did the first time around. But the popover tin made all the difference. As you can see in that photo, they rose much higher than in the muffin tins.
That rise made all the difference in the texture and the taste. The outside was still flaky with a bit of a crunch, while the inside was a velvety custard that brought us right back to those Friday mornings in the Hole.
We had one hot out of the oven, and later a second made the perfect complement to our Sunday feast of a filet mignon cooked medium, a baked sweet potato, and a side salad. The next morning, we polished them off with a smear of strawberry jam for breakfast. (They’re versatile.)
We’re looking forward to making them again Friday for our socially distanced, quarantined Christmas dinner. We wish you a merry Christmas, and at some point in this New Year an opportunity to pop over.
Popovers (via Cook’s Illustrated)
1¼ cups bread flour
¾ tsp. table salt
1½ cups 2 percent or low-fat milk, heated to 110° to 120° (mixing in some powdered milk is optional)
3 large eggs
Adjust oven rack to middle position, and preheat the oven to 400°. While the recipe works in a muffin tin, a six-cup popover pan is preferred. My wife says you should fill the cups about three-quarters to full. (They’ll be straighter if it’s three-quarters, but she likes the character that the full cup creates.) Don’t open the oven for the first 30 minutes of baking.
Lightly spray cups with vegetable oil spray, and use a paper towel to wipe them out.
Whisk together flour and salt in a medium bowl. Add milk and eggs, and whisk until mostly smooth (some lumps are OK). Distribute into the cups. Bake until popovers are lofty, and deep golden brown all over — about 40 to 45 minutes. Serve hot with salted butter.