The Cooking Through Ratio series continues with a final quick cake, popovers. While popovers may fall under the umbrella of quick cakes, they are distinctively different than their brethren and have characteristics more familiar with pâte à choux. The reason I say this and as Ruhlman points out is that through the baking process they undergo a dramatic transformation. High heat causes causes the batter to steam and balloon the final product into a wonderful column with a delicate balance of texture and flavor.
In general, popovers are 2 parts liquid, 1 part egg and 1 part flour. Again the order here is important. To make what are described as “Basic (but amazing) Popovers”, I measured out the liquid (milk), eggs and flour while also measuring out a bit of butter and salt. I also preheated the oven to 450 degrees F; the high heat was necessary to quickly raise the temperature of the batter which would create the rise. An interesting twist was that while the oven was pre-heating I also placed the muffin tin (I don’t have a popover pan) inside to warm up to help things along even more. The rest was easy.
The milk and egg were whisked together so that they were combined well.
Next, the salt and flour were added and thoroughly combined.
The mixture was left to sit for 30 minutes so that the flour could absorb the liquid, reducing the lumps that were present. After 30 minutes I gave everything a quick whisk.
I then pulled the muffin tin out of the oven and placed some butter, which was melted in the microwave into three open cups.
My understanding was that the hot butter and muffin tin / popover pan were supposed to help quickly raise the temperature of the batter. When I placed the batter into the muffin tin the laws of physics prevailed and the heavier batter fell to the bottom causing the butter to rise.
I quickly moved the muffin tin to the oven to prevent any heat loss. After ten minutes, the heat was reduced to 375 degrees F. 30 minutes later the baking and the transformation were complete. What came out of the oven was wholly different than what went into it a mere 40 minutes earlier.
Wow oh wow. Yum. The crispy texture and buttery flavor were exceptional and reminiscent of Yorkshire Pudding, something I enjoyed eating while working in London. Indeed not all English cooking is bad.
These were easy to make, although the sitting time for the batter and baking time were longer than my stomach could bear after coming back from the gym. Needless to say I ate them all along with my “merguez pattie” dinner. I saved half of the batter for later and definitely will enjoy making these again to accompany a more elaborate meal.