Ah, popovers. Either you know them and love them, or you just haven't met them yet.
If you're familiar with Yorkshire puddings, you'll probably notice that the two recipes are very similar. In fact, these airy little puffs are in fact the Yorkie pud's Yankee cousins, thusly named because they puff up in the oven and "pop over" the edges of the pan.
What makes a popover different, though, is the fact that they're baked long enough to crisp up the outsides, so that the insides stay delicate and hollow rather than collapsing in upon themselves.
For this reason, they're also known among bakers for being rather temperamental, since they'll find every excuse to deflate. Everyone has their own tricks for foolproof popovers... using only room temperature ingredients, preheating the pan in a sizzling-hot oven, or spinning three times and sincerely begging the pastry gods for their generosity while the blender is running.
Of all those tricks, there are two that always work for me. Resist the urge to crack open the oven door until they're completely done, and use the freshest eggs possible to make sure those popovers rise sky-high.
The most important lesson I've learned, though, is this... popovers are notoriously sticky, which is not a good thing when you consider how delicate they are. I can't tell you how many batches I've pulled from the oven all golden brown and gorgeously puffed, only to mangle them with my ham-handed attempts to extract them from the muffin tin.
So, the moral of the story is this... To make sure you can pop your popovers out of their tin, you must heed the immortal words of Groundskeeper Willie and "grease me up, woman!" By which I mean you should butter the ever-loving-daylights out of your muffin tin. Seriously. Butter it twice as much as you think you need to, and then add a little more butter for good luck.
This particular version is spruced up with a generous handful of sharp cheddar cheese and a sprinkling of herbs from Gourmet Garden's brand-spanking-new line of Lightly Dried Herbs. I used a combination of basil and parsley, but you can play around with whatever combination you like. (And, if you can't find Lightly Dried yet, they also work just fine with their line of Stir-In Pastes.)
I've long sworn by Gourmet Garden's Stir-In Pastes as a substitute for fresh herbs in the winter. They can be used almost anywhere I'd normally use fresh, but they keep for several months in the fridge, so I'm spared the indignity of uncovering a half-finished bunch in the bottom of the crisper that's started to dissolve into goo.
The beauty of the Lightly Dried is that they can be used almost anywhere a paste would work, but can also be used in fresh salads or salsas, and can also be sprinkled onto a finished dish for a pop of colour and flavour. They're perfect for a dish like these popovers, where the pure herb flavour shines through.
And should you get around to bake a batch of your own, you just might discover that popovers actually got their name because your neighbours will find all sorts of excuses to pop over for a visit when they smell the deliciousness wafting from your home!
Disclosure: This post is part of a series sponsored by Gourmet Garden. All opinions, as always, are entirely my own.
- 1 cup lukewarm milk
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup flour
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted (plus more for greasing the pan)
- ½ cup grated cheddar cheese
- 2 tbsp Gourmet Garden Lightly Dried herbs (use your favourite herb or a mix)
- Preheat over to 450F. Very generously grease 10 cups of a regular muffin tin (preferably non-stick), and fill the remaining 2 cups with a small amount of water.
- Using a blender, mix together the milk and eggs. Add the flour and salt, and blend briefly to incorporate the flour. Scrape down the sides with a spatula then, with the blender running, drizzle in the melted butter. Blending until the batter is smooth and mostly lump-free. Stir in the grated cheddar and herbs.
- Pour batter into well-greased muffin tins or cast iron popover pans. Pour the batter into the greased cups, filling them about ¾ full.
- Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, the lower heat to 350F and continue baking for 15 minutes or until puffed and golden brown.