Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Popover experiments

Have you ever made a popover?  I never had the desire until an abundance of summer fruit led me to make small batches of jam and hunt for decadent ways to savor it.  I have a few vintage popover pans that I've always intended to fiddle with but never had the time.  I was suddenly inspired to give the pans a whirl - but getting the perfectly perky popover with an impressive, airy dome was not an easy task.  

It's amazing, actually, that without any leavening agent this very simple mixture of eggs, milk and flour can develop into a light, airy and impressive-looking little item.  It's all about harnessing the power of steam, and there are a few tricks to maximizing popover potential that only became clear after several rounds of experiments:

1.  Don't overmix the batter - every recipe warns of this.  Don't do it.
2.  Pour the batter into a popover pan that has been heated in the oven - don't pour it into a cold pan.
3.  The pan matters: my vintage ones, that have the requisite air pockets in between the cups, created nicely shaped popovers, but no matter how much I greased and prepped the pans, I could not release the popovers.  Some research churned up these amazing pans (and an emergency mail order) - they truly work.
4.  Don't open the oven - keep the steam inside.
5.  Lower the oven temperature midway through.
6.  Enjoy when hot out of the oven - no matter what tricks you employ, they'll never be as crisp and delectable as they are when freshly baked

The batter itself is very basic.  Here's one to try.


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