Recently, I was in Bar Harbor, Maine and visited a place called Jordan Pond House. A nice little place to take a walk and then stop in and get the treat they’re most famous for: popovers. SO famous for that they even have a Jordan Pond popover mix for sale.
If you don’t frequent Maine you might not have even heard of popovers before. I know I hadn’t. The first time I went to Maine, the people I was with who had been there were very excited to go back and get some popovers. Once I got there I knew why. A popover is like a variation of Yorkshire pudding. It is a puffed up, hollow pastry that is so warm and delicious. Every time I’ve had them I’ve spread butter and jam inside. The trick is to eat them fresh out of the oven.
My friends in Maine had even gone so far as to buy their own Chicago metallic popover pan, so they could make popovers whenever they wanted to. Once I left Maine I was far away from delicious popovers…but my mother took it upon herself to send me a lovely gift: my OWN popover pan!
I had never cooked popovers before, but I had the pan to do it!
popover pan vs muffin pan
The difference between the metal popover pan and a muffin pan or some other popover pan substitute is that the cups on a popover pan are individual and connected by thin metal rods. The reasoning behind this is to allow the maximum amount of heat circulation, as this is what causes the popovers to rise and cook to perfection.
I happen to have the 6 cup popover pan. I find that 2 popovers is a suitable meal, but when I’m baking them for two people, and there are 6 popovers, I manage to find room for that extra popover. They do make a 4 cup popover pan if you want to cook in small numbers. Or, if you have more people in your household, or are cooking for a group, you can also find a 12 cup popover pan to make delicious popovers for everyone, or 12-cup mini popover pans if you want to make more of an appetizer-style popover.
One thing I could NOT find was a specifically designed cast iron popover pan. The closest thing was the lodge logic cast iron muffin tin.
I’ve never attempted to make popovers until I had my pan. After making them 4-5 times now, I’ve always found that they were easy to make and haven’t had any problems. Apparently, this isn’t the case for everyone.
I came across different websites with people attempting different mixing styles and temperature combinations to get their popovers right. A majority of the problems being that their popovers don’t rise.
When you attempt to make your own (which you will…they’re YUMMY!) a big “no no” is opening the oven to look at them. As I mentioned earlier, heat circulation is key to getting them to rise. When you open that door, you mess that up…even more so if you’re using a muffin tin without the extra breathing room of a popover pan.
Another part of the problem may be the recipe they were using.
popover pan recipes
It seems to me that a big source of frustration in the stories of popover failure was properly mixing in the butter. One person had even tested three different ways of mixing in one tray to see which worked best.
Now, when I got my popover pan, I wasn’t necessarily dead-set on cooking light popovers. It just so happened my popover recipe didn’t have butter in it. I didn’t know any better!
Ideally, you’re going to be filling the finished popover with butter anyway.
I checked out the food network popovers and their recipe called a tablespoon of butter. I’m telling you, it isn’t needed. Here is the exact recipe I used, and how I prepared it.
POPOVERS: recipe for 6
– 2 eggs
– 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
– 1 cup milk
– 1/2 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
While the oven is heating I grease and flour the popover pan. Sometimes I use real butter, sometimes I use a cooking spray, both have worked fine.
I beat the two eggs slightly in a stainless steel mixing bowl with a silicone whisk. You don’t want to over beat the eggs or the overall batter.
Most popover recipes call for sifted flour. As much as I love baking gadgets, the flour sifter is one baking utensil that is not in my arsenal. I lightly spoon flour into a measuring cup and that works fine.
I add the milk to the eggs, then the salt, then start hand mixing in the flour with the whisk. As soon as the chunks are gone and the batter looks smooth, it is ready.
Fill up each cup in the popover pan half-way, and place in the oven.
– Cook at 450 degrees F for 20 minutes
– reduce heat to 350 degrees F and leave in for another 20 minutes
I usually reduce the heat at the 19 minute mark so the transition to 350 starts a little sooner.
After that, they should be beautiful.
One last tip: if you take your popovers out and aren’t going to eat one or more of them right away, pierce the top of them to let the steam escape. Otherwise, they will continue to cook in the tin and be more chewy than you might expect when you come back to them.