WHAT MAKES A POPOVER ‘POP’
What exactly is a Popover and why is it called that? A Popover is the American version of Yorkshire Pudding, a dish traditionally served with Roast Beef in England. Yorkshire Pudding is usually made in the drippings from a roast and is baked right in the roasting pan usually after the roast has been taken out.
Popovers on the other hand, are usually made in Muffin Tins; however the best vehicle for baking Popovers is a Popover Pan which is made so that each muffin cup can be surrounded by heat, which is crucial to making a good Popover.
Why a Popover is called a Popover? Well, when it bakes, the batter rises over the edge of the tins and forms a dome, thus it can be said that it Pops Over the individual pans.
Popovers are fun to make and it is especially fun to watch them baking if you have an oven with a glass door and an inside light. It is truly quite amazing to watch them as they blow up like a balloon.
What makes a Popover Pop? What comes out of a kettle of water when you boil it? Yes, that right! You guessed it! It is steam! But what creates the steam?
The basic 3 ingredients in Popovers are Eggs, Milk and Flour. Fresh or dried Herbs can be used for additional flavor and even cheese can be put into the batter. The Flour provides Gluten, which is needed for the walls of the Popover. The Eggs provide Protein which will hold in the Air and the Milk provides flavor and liquid to create the steam.
The key to making good Popovers that really ‘pop’ is to beat the batter like crazy. The more you beat it, the more air that will be incorporated into the batter. Since Popovers do not contain a chemical leavening agent or even yeast for that matter, the only thing that makes them rise is air. This is also true of Pate Choux, the batter from which Éclairs and Cream Puffs are made.
It is important to use at least All-Purpose Flour; anything softer will not contain enough gluten to form the shell of the Popover. Eggs, Milk and Flour are beaten together furiously, (it is best to use an electric mixer or you are going to have a very sore shoulder and arm when you finish) to get enough air into the product. The eggs are a conduit for air, (without them you will not have popovers).
While you are making the Batter, the oven and Popover Pan should be preheating at 450 degrees. If the pan is hot, the batter will start to rise immediately, thus preventing heavy, sodden non-Popovers. Each cup should be well greased, either with butter or a vegetable spray. If you put the pan in the oven at the same time you turn it on, by the time the oven is preheated and your batter is done, the pan should be hot enough.
Carefully, with potholders, remove the pan from the oven and either pour in a teaspoon of melted butter into each cup or carefully spray with the vegetable spray. Pour the Batter into a cup with a pouring spout and then carefully fill each muffin cup halfway. Immediately place in the hot oven and bake for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes turn the oven to 350 degrees and continue baking for at least 15 minutes more. The Popovers should be a medium-dark brown and should be firm on top. DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN DURING THE BAKING TIME!
Once the Popovers are done to the desired color, you can use a sharp knife to slit the tops and then return them to the oven for 2 minutes more. This will insure that the inside of the Popover will not be too soggy. (I for one, love that eggy taste that is inside a popover or a cream puff.)
Remove from the oven and then from the pan and serve immediately!
Do you need a recipe? Almost any standard Popover recipe will work, if you follow the instructions above. Your general use Cookbook will probably have a recipe or you can get one from one of many sites on the Internet.
- Beat the Ingredients well enough to incorporate a lot of air.
- Make sure the oven is hot! The Popovers need heat to start rising immediately or else they will be a sodden lump when removed from the oven.
- Grease the Pan before pouring in the batter.