Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Thyme Popovers


Popovers are pretty cool. Four simple ingredients, flour, butter, eggs, and milk, are transformed into magically airy treats that melt in your mouth like few bread products known to man. Add a bit of salt and minced herbs, and you have an irresistible snack. Even though it was 10:30 p.m. when these came out of the oven, The Gastronomer and I couldn't help eating three each.

Getting them to turn out right is a little tricky--it took me three tries to get satisfactory results, but even the "failures" tasted good. It's important to have the eggs and milk at room temperature before mixing in the flour, and the muffin tins must be coated with cooking spray and then dusted with flour or Parmesan cheese. The popovers' buoyant spirit is such that they try to climb right out of the pan as they cook, and if only cooking spray is used, they can slip and flip over on their sides, ultimately rising crooked. This happened to my first two batches; a dusting of flour on the third try seemed to anchor them enough that they could rise straight. Opening the oven door too early can also cause them to cave in. If you're hard core, there is such thing as a "popover pan", which really maximizes the rising effect.

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light, December 2008.
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup 2% milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • Cooking spray
Preheat oven to 375°. Combine milk and eggs in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk until blended; let stand 30 minutes. Combine flour, thyme, and salt, stirring with a whisk. Gradually add flour mixture to milk mixture, stirring well with a whisk. Stir in melted butter.

3. Coat 8 popover cups or muffin tins with cooking spray, then dust them with flour. Divide batter evenly among the prepared tins. Bake at 375° for 30-35 minutes (40 minutes for popover cups) or until golden. Serve immediately.

Yield: 8 popovers
Estimated Start-to-Finish Time: Not given
Actual Start-to-Finish Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Substitutions: The original recipe called for dusting the popover cups with grated parmesan cheese, and then preheating the cups in the oven for 5 minutes before filling them with batter. I originally guessed that the preheating was just intended to melt the cheese, but I've seen the technique described elsewhere, so there must be more to it than that. In any case, I didn't bother with preheating my muffin tin and my popovers turned out fine, but perhaps they could have been even fluffier. Dusting with flour instead was an idea that came from the popover recipe in my mom's classic Joy of Cooking.

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