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January 23, 2015

Popovers

I can't resist antique kitchen utensils, which is why I have so many cast iron pots. Lately I've been looking for a copper egg white bowl because I have a strong urge to make zabaglione.  But my most recent find here in my rented kitchen in LA was this little beauty: a well-seasoned iron popover pan. 

Popovers are descended from Yorkshire Pudding; the first recorded recipe appeared in 1737 in The Whole Duty of a Woman where it was known as “ A Dripping Pudding.” Eight years later in The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy, Hannah Glasse renamed it Yorkshire Pudding; nobody knows why.  (The usually reliable Mrs Beeton, incidentally, got the recipe wrong.)  Buckeye Cookery, a mid-American cookbook first published in 1877 contains two recipes for “Pop-Overs” which are, essentially, Yorkshire Pudding without the drippings. 

Whatever you call them, popovers are one of the most satisfying recipes you can make.  You put a very modest batter into the oven in a greased hot pan where it explodes; when you open the oven door your popovers will have grown to as much as six inches tall. 

I've tweaked this recipe from an original in Fanny Farmer. The real secret to a fine popover is making sure your pan is piping hot when you batter it up. 

If you have meat drippings, be sure to add them; that way you'll end up with Dripping Puddings. Such a great name!

Brown Butter Popovers

3 eggs

1 cup whole milk

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup flour

5 tablespoons butter, browned

a couple more tablespoons butter for the pans

Gently beat the eggs and milk just until they're blended. Whisk in the salt, then the flour, pouring in a thin stream and continually whisking as you pour.  

Let batter rest for a bit. If your batter is too cold when it hits the oven, your popovers will be less impressive.  

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees, and set your pan inside.

Meanwhile, melt the butter on low heat, allowing it to cook until a wonderfully nutty aroma rises up. When that happens, immediately remove it from the fire.  Add browned butter to the batter. (It may coagulate; that’s fine.)  

Remove the hot pan from the oven. Working quickly, drop a bit of butter into each cup and swoosh it around. Add your batter. This recipe will fill a true 6-cup popover pan, or a 12-cup regular muffin pan. 

Cook for 30 minutes, or until brown and set. (Less if you used a regular muffin pan.) Try not to open the oven to check doneness more than once; the cool air rushing in will deflate the popovers.

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