Our favorite popovers are Marion Cunningham’s, by way of Julia Child. And oh! What lovely popovers they are—big, handsomely popped beauties with melting-crisp crusts and custardy-smooth interiors. They’re delightful to bake—watching them climb up their tins and then steadily puff-puff-puff their way up and over the rims is so entertaining you can’t help but watch, crouched on the kitchen floor with your face pressed to the glass of the oven door. They’re fun to eat, with their layered textures and swirling bottoms that show food physics at work. It is impossible to leave a dish of heaped and napkin-wrapped popovers alone, even if breakfast is over and you are already full.
I will just tell you now that T is the best popover maker in the known world. You should probably just come to our house and eat the ones he makes. But seeing as how the logistics on that might be difficult, here’s a recipe.
Marion Cunningham’s Popovers
Adapted from Baking with Julia
Popovers are very, very easy to make. They’re a fantastic company breakfast, in fact—combine the wet and dry ingredients the night before in separate bowls; in the morning, let everything come to room temperature, melt the butter, and whizz the batter up.
Preheat the oven to 425F. Grease eight large popover tins, or use baking spray.
- 1 cup of milk (room temperature)
- 3 large eggs (room temperature)
- 2 tablespoons of melted butter
in a blender or food processor; whizz to break up the eggs. Add:
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp table salt
Blend until the batter is smooth and a little frothy, 20-25 seconds or so. If the batter is lumpy, you must sieve it. This is very, very annoying, so try to add the flour in batches and blend thoroughly to prevent it.
Divide the batter evenly between the tins, filling each about half full.
Bake at 425F in the lower third of the oven for 25 minutes, until the popovers are puffed and brown.
Lower the heat to 350F and prop the oven door open a crack with the handle of a wooden spoon. Bake for another 15 minutes to help the insides cook a little.
Eat immediately, with late-summer preserves and sweet butter, or with bacon and herby eggs, or both.
If you want to make your popovers even better, the most important things for optimum pop are:
1) Popover tins. Muffin tins or custard cups will do in a pinch, but the very best popovers are made in deep tins with steeply-angled walls. We prefer buttered and floured individual tins made of steel; they require careful cleaning and drying, but they promote fast, even heating and browning. Seasoned cast iron would work well, too, so snatch some up if you see them at an estate sale. Nonstick-coated popover tins don’t create the same kind of crust; go for uncoated if you can. Individual cups and cups welded into racks are both fine; we just like individual cups for their flexibility.
2) Heat control. The popovers will do their growing during the first, hotter bake. Don’t open the oven door, even for a second, while they’re puffing. The second part of the bake is to help the popover insides cook and to dry them out a bit; open the door wide for a moment as you lower the temperature to let a bit of the heat out and keep the popovers from overcooking.
3) Moisture control. Popovers are leavened with steam and steam only; make sure if using individual cups to space them closely enough to help each other rise (3” between cups ought to do it). By the time you lower the temperature, the steam’s usefulness will be over and you generally want to get rid of it as quickly as possible. Some people like a custardy interior; some don’t. If you want softer popovers, don’t crack the oven door to let the steam out; if you want dryer popovers, crack the door for the whole second bake. You can even reach in and slit the top of each popover 5 minutes before the baking period is done to let more of the steam escape (be careful!)