One of my absolute favorite foods is popovers. Popovers are simple, fast, and so versatile. In my opinion, here are few joys in cooking more than tearing into a fresh popover and dunking it into sauce or gravy.
What is a Popover?
A popover is a bread roll made from an egg based batter. They get their name from the way they expand and pop over the tins they are cooked in. Preparations for popovers can be both sweet and savory.
What is the Difference Between Popovers and Yorkshire Pudding?
Those of you with a taste for English faire will be familiar with Yorkshire pudding, which is another eggy expanding bread. Popovers are effectively American Yorkshire Puddings. That said, there is a clear difference in uses between popovers and Yorkshire Pudding.
Popovers are both used in sweet and savory preparations. A popover is equally as likely to be dusted in cinnamon sugar and icing as it is to be filled with ham and cheese. Yorkshire Pudding, on the other hand, is famous for its place in the Sunday Roast tradition. Using beef fat drippings rather than oil or butter, Yorkshire puddings are traditionally a savory affair.
What Makes a Good Popover
All good popover and Yorkshire Puddings will have a hole or divot in the middle to their hollow center. They will also have that characteristic bulbous “muffin top.”
The Challenge with Popovers
For such a simple recipe, there can be few things more frustrating than a popover that will not expand. The main reasons for this challenge are either your batter consistency OR the temperature of your baking vessel or fat.
When it comes to the batter consistency, it is very important that you stick to the given measurements. If your batter is too thin, it will not have the structure to hold itself up. If you go too thick, the steam won’t be strong enough to push the top up.
Heat wise, it is critical your fat be hot and your tins be hot. Muffin tins, unlike Yorkshire pudding or Popover tins, are made of thin aluminum that means they do not store heat at all. If you take a flimsy tin out and put it on your counter, it could lose hundreds of degrees before you put it back into the oven.
Low temperatures are bad as they generate no steam or push to puff up your popovers. This is why in our recipe, we pour directly into the tins while they are still in the oven.
Is Oil or Butter Better for Popovers?
The oil vs butter debate is a pretty classic question when it comes to baked goods. We’ve actually gone ahead and made one batch with butter and one batch with olive oil to test the differences! Overall, both fats will work and your popovers will expand, but there are some noted differences.
The oiled tin resulted in lighter, fluffier, neutral tasting popovers. The buttered tin resulted in darker, nuttier, richer flavored popovers.
That said, I would recommend oil for food getting dunked, where the flavor is coming from the sauce. I’d recommend butter for things getting dusted with ingredients like cheese, sugar, or chocolate.
What Pairs with Popovers?
On the sweet side, you are most likely to see popovers paired with ingredients like jam or cream. I personally prefer mine with cinnamon sugar (like a faux malasada or donut) and maybe a white chocolate dipping sauce. When it comes to savory preparations, it is hard to beat cheese or gravy.
You don’t need much to make delicious popovers at home. The most important tool you will need is a metal muffin or popover tin. The thicker and heavier metal tins are better, rather than the lightweight tins. You will also need a cup measuring cup, a mixing bowl, and something to stir with.
- 1 cup flour
- 1 cup milk
- 1 tablespoon of oil or butter per popover (6 popovers = 6 tablespoons oil/butter)
- 2 eggs
- Pinch of salt
- Place 1 tablespoon oil or butter into each muffin tin compartment (a 6 cup muffin tin needs 6 tablespoons oil)
- Place tin into oven and preheat to 450°F
- Mix wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until thick like pancake or cake batter
- When oven comes to temperature, pour the batter into tins.
- Bake for 20 minutes at 450°F
- Open door for 3 seconds and close it immediately
- Turn temperature down to 350°F and bake for 10 more minutes or until sides of the muffin top are golden brown (this prevents them from collapsing)
- Remove from tins with a knife