a home cook with notions & an appetite
Popovers are a little bit of magic. It’s bread that rises, but none of it comes from a traditional leavener or yeast. It’s all done through the power of steam in your oven. When these eggy little bundles of joy meet the heat, they’re prepared to party.
Consider them souffle’s way relaxed third cousin. Twice removed.
This is not to say that there aren’t rules. Or the possibility of math.
The King Aurthur Flour Baker’s Companion lists these ingredients:
If you’re really into staring at ingredient photos, you might notice there are only 2 eggs. These are jumbo eggs, not large eggs. Panic sets in, as the recipe has this notation on how the eggs and flour make this great little matrix that is both soft and strong enough to expand and contain the steam. I start wondering what too many eggs will do to said matrix…or too few. Luckily husband locates the wikipedia entry that has a handy-dandy chart on egg sizes. (For four egg fun, check out another version of popovers they have on the KA Flour website!)
The short version of the analysis is this: 2 jumbo eggs would weigh 5 oz vs. 3 large eggs that would weigh 6 oz. This would put me 16.7% under the expected weight of egg. If I were to go with three jumbos, I would have been at 7.5 oz of egg weight, or 25% over expected egg weight. I decide 16.7% under is much better than 25% over and go with 2 jumbos.
Two lessons: 1) always try to have large eggs on hand; 2) if any of you have wondered if being an analyst does things to you and the way you’re willing to make decisions at home…now you know.
Mixing is all done by the VitaMix, the instructions just ask that you add the ingredients in list order. Then a crucial decision had to be made – watch a half hour saved show on the DVR or read for 20 minutes while the batter rests? Life-altering stuff.
This is the popover pan that was sent to me for Christmas (thanks again, Aunt C!). The recipe stresses these can also be made in muffin cups. Things were tense at this point. These baked for 20 minutes at 450 degrees and then baked at 350 for 10 with strict orders not to to open the oven door at any point. I’ll admit to walking into the kitchen and staring through the oven door every 5 minutes to see if anything had happened to the popovers yet. There was much rejoicing when rising had taken place.
I did stab each of the popovers quickly with a knife as advised so the popovers wouldn’t get soggy (how great is the advice from King Arthur?). These were eggy and fluffy and went well with both butter and a fantastic rasberry jalapeno jam we picked up at the farmer’s market last weekend. Leftovers were not soggy.
In the bottom photo, you can see the steam pocket the popover made while I didn’t dare crack open the oven door. Being good does pay off some days.