Oh yes! Delicious popovers. Fill with tuna salad, ham, jam or whipped cream. These buttery, soft “rolls”, of sorts, will suit any party. Or dinner table. Or breakfast. They are so versatile. Easy to make and you don’t really need any special tools or pans. Even though there are special pans for popovers. Or, use a metal muffin pan. Big one or little one.
But where did these come? Who “invented” them? Some sources say they are related to Scottish Short Bread. But more than likely, they come from England and are a derivative of Yorkshire Pudding. “The popover is an American version of Yorkshire pudding and similar batter puddings made in England since the 17th century.
The oldest known reference to popovers is in a letter of E. E. Stuart’s in 1850. The first cookbook to print a recipe for popovers was M. N. Henderson, Practical Cooking, 1876. The first book other than a cookbook to mention popovers was Jesuit’s Ring by A. A. Hayes published in 1892.
In American Food (1974), author Evan Jones writes: “Settlers from Maine who founded Portland, Oregon, Americanized the pudding from Yorkshire by cooking the batter in custard cups lubricated with drippings from the roasting beef (or sometimes pork); another modification was the use of garlic, and, frequently, herbs. The result is called Portland popover pudding: individual balloons of crusty meat-flavored pastry.
Other American popover variations include replacing some of the flour with pumpkin puree and adding spices such as allspice or nutmeg. Most American popovers today, however, are not flavored with meat or herbs. Instead, they have a buttery taste.
Ogden Nash inverts the historical order of events.
Let’s call Yorkshire pudding
A fortunate blunder:
It’s a sort of popover
That turned and popped under.” [Wikipedia]
And from the sensitiveeconomist. com site, “Popovers are an American recipe that are thought to have descended from English batter puddings and Yorkshire puddings, although the origin is a bit uncertain. Puddings in medieval times were not like today’s custard-like desserts, but rather were meat-based.” In other words, I’m still not completely sure where popovers came from. Although, they appear to be strictly an American treat.
So now we know a little about the popover. But now the question is:Do I need a special pan? “Popovers are airy rolls that are just as much fun to bake as they are to eat. It is a balloon-like roll with a crisp, buttery exterior and a tender, eggy interior. Many people don’t make them at home because the perception is that you need a specialty pan to bake them. Fortunately, this isn’t true.” [craftsy.com] A good, sturdy muffin pan will work just as well.
Here is a recipe that we like and it works very well.
Popovers with Scrambled Eggs and Fresh Fruit
Total: 50 min Prep: 10 min Cook: 40 min Yield: 8 popovers
Bob and Robin Young, Boise, ID
3 T melted butter, divided
2 lg Eggs
1 c whole Milk, warmed for 30 seconds in the microwave (should be lukewarm to warm)
1 c All-Purpose Flour
1 t Celtic Sea Salt
Preheat the oven to 400º F.
Using a pastry brush, coat 8 muffin cups with 1 tablespoon of the melted butter and put the tin in the oven for 5 minutes. (This is extremely important to do!)
Meanwhile, mix the eggs in a blender until light yellow. Add the warmed milk and blend. Add the flour, salt and remaining melted butter, and blend until smooth.
Pour the batter into the warmed muffin tin ⅔ full (each popover will expand) and return it to the oven to bake until golden, about 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve warm.
Another variation – Popovers with Ham and Cheese Omelet and Fresh Fruit
From David Libowitz “Sugar-Crusted Popovers
Adapted from my recipe in The New York Times and Maida Heatter’s Great Book of Desserts.I thought these wouldn’t stay crisp for very long after they were baked and coated with the sugar. But the next morning, I was surprised when I pulled off a hunk and they’re weren’t bad. But they are the best the day they’re made; leftovers can be stored in a container and snacked on the next day. You could freeze them in zip-top bags as well.I don’t have popover tins, but found these work quite well in standard-sized muffin tins. For this recipe, feel free to use salted or unsalted butter, depending on your preference.
For the puffs:
2 tablespoons butter, melted
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup (250 ml) whole milk
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 cup (140g) flour
For the sugar-coating:
2/3 cup (130g) sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup (60g) melted butter
Softened butter, for greasing the pan
1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF (200ºC). Liberally grease a nonstick popover pan, or a muffin pan with 1/2-cup indentations,with softened butter.
2. For the puffs, put the 2 tablespoons melted butter, eggs, milk, salt and sugar in a blender and blend for a few seconds.
3. Add the flour and whiz for about 10 seconds, just until smooth.
4. Divide the batter among the 9 greased molds, filling each 1/2 to 2/3rds full.
5. Bake for 35 minutes, or until the puffs are deep brown.
6. Remove from the oven, wait a few minutes until cool enough to handle, then remove the popovers from the pans and set them on a cooling rack. If they’re stubborn, you may need a small knife or spatula to help pry them out.
7. Mix the sugar and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Thoroughly brush each popover all over with the 1/4 cup (60 g) of melted butter, then dredge each puff generously in the sugar and cinnamon mixture to coat them completely. Let cool on the wire rack.”