Saturday, January 14, 2012

No Fail Popovers

To me, popovers are just about the coolest chemical reaction there is in baking. I know how nerdy that sounds, but the first time I successfully made a batch that actually "popped" up in the oven, I was thrilled! I tried several recipes that resulted in dense, eggy, deflated popovers and my baking self-esteem deflated with each failed, un-popped batch! But don't worry, you're not likely to experience failure this this recipe. It is quick, easy, and no fail! If you've never had a popover, they are the quick answer to a dinner roll, taking only 40 minutes from start to finish as opposed to the hours involved in making rolls from a yeast-based dough. Popovers are fantastically blank canvases. You can bake them plain or add some fresh herbs or cheese to the batter to spice them up. They are great with soups or stews because popovers are hollow in the middle, perfect for scooping. A giant air bubble forms on the inside of these as they bake. How does that happen? Time for a quick chemistry lesson.

The popover batter is mixed vigorously in a blender. This incorporates a lot of little air bubbles into the batter. While you prepare the popover batter, the muffin tin is getting hot in the oven. When the batter is poured into the preheated muffin tin, the batter seals on contact with the hot metal, instantly forming the bottom of the popover. The heat from the oven quickly solidifies the top of the popover, trapping all of the tiny air bubbles incorporated during the mixing process in the center of the popover. While the center slowly bakes, all the air bubbles coalesce into one giant air bubble, causing the center of the popover to expand. This is how they earned their name. The expansion of the air bubble in their center literally causes them to "popover" the top of the muffin tin. They start out as a runny batter and end up colossal and delicious.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease muffin tin or popover tin with cooking spray. When the oven is heated, place the greased tin in the oven to preheat. It only needs to be in there for 5 minutes prior to baking.

In your microwave, melt butter and warm milk simultaneously. Stir.

Crack both eggs into the blender, blending until the eggs turn yellow and frothy.

With the blender running, pour a small, steady stream of the hot milk, butter mixture into the beaten eggs. 

Turn blender off and add flour and salt. Pulse to combine, scraping the sides of the blender and pulsing again to make sure all the dry ingredients are fully incorporated. If adding herbs or cheese, do this on this step, adding with the flour and salt.

Remove heated tin from the oven. Fill each slot 3/4 way full with batter. Return filled tin to the oven and bake for 35 minutes. DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN during baking. 

If you have a window in your oven door, you can keep track of the progress of your popovers. 10 minutes into baking, they look like this. A few minutes later.......

they'll look like this! When they stop expanding, they are NOT done baking. When the outside is golden brown, they are still not done baking. Removing the popovers from the oven before the 35 minutes are up results in deflated popovers. 

Remove from the oven and let cool for a minute or two. The popovers are best served warm on the day they are baked.

No Fail Popovers 

recipe adapted from


1 cup milk, warmed
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
2 eggs, room temperature
1 cup flour
1 tsp salt 
1 Tbsp of parmesean cheese or chopped fresh herbs, if desired. 


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a muffin tin or popover tin with cooking spray. Preheat tin in the heated oven while preparing popover batter (about 5 minutes).

In a microwave-safe liquid measuring cup or bowl, heat milk and melt butter. Stir. Set aside.

Mix eggs in blender until yellow and frothy. With the blender running, add the heated milk, butter mixture to the eggs in a thin, steady stream. Turn off the blender and add flour, salt, and cheese and herbs if desired. Pulse until batter is smooth, scraping the sides of the blender with a rubber spatula and pulsing a few times more to ensure the dry ingredients are fully incorporated.

Remove hot muffin or popover tin from oven and fill each compartment 3/4 way full. Return filled tin to oven and bake for 35 minutes. DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN DOOR DURING BAKING. The popovers are done when golden brown and crisp on the outside. Serve warm.

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