Perfect Popovers

There are an amazing number of theories on how to create the best popover. Over the last few decades, I’ve tried a few: using ceramic dishes, glass Pyrex bowls, popover tins, preheating the chosen baking vessels, adding baking soda or baking powder for extra “lift”, separating eggs, whisking egg whites to a soft peak and folding into the batter, using bread flour instead of all-purpose, adding hot or melted fat in the bottom of the cups/ramekins, placing the filled popover pan or ramekins into a cold oven, and then, the other extreme, placing them into a 450f preheated oven. Some worked, becoming the star of the meal. Some didn’t, and it was those from which I learned the most.

My favorite popover recipe, tried ‘n true, after all the experimenting was over, is from “The All New Joy of Cooking”, page 786. They taste identical to some of the best popovers we’ve eaten in fine restaurants, as well as a favorite summer tradition – pond-side, afternoon high tea at the Jordan Pond House, Acadia Park, Maine. Bring your dog and they’ll treat him/her/them like royalty with their very own bowl of sparkling ice cold water, as well as “accidentally” dropping a popover or two, sans strawberry jam, with your permission, of course.

Sadly, for people believing the myth that consuming saturated fats and cholesterol from butter, cream, meat and eggs is the cause of cancer and heart disease, the thought of eating popovers, loaded with whole milk, eggs, and slathered with creamy, rich, home-made grass-fed butter, may seem to be risky behavior.

Sally Fallon and Mary Enig, authors of “Nourishing Traditions”, point out in, Sad Changes in the Standard American Diet that traditional diets were high in not only processed sugar and fat, but also loaded in animal and dairy fats. Some of my most unhealthy years – battling depression and roller-coaster weight gain and loss – were those I spent following recipes and advice in publications such as Cooking Light, or following Jane Brody and her Good Food Book, both of which recommend high-sugar, high-processed flour, and low-fat. And when fats are used in their recipes, they follow the not-so-wise advice to substitute polyunsaturated oils (canola, corn, soy, etc.) in place of traditional dairy fats and lard.

Fallon and Enig, point out that our modern low-fat diet, which has avoided “high-fat”, is not healthy:

But cancer and heart disease were extremely rare before the turn of the century. One can only conclude that the abundance of good quality animal foods and dairy fats offered substantial protection against the effects of refined carbohydrates.

In addition to eggs, butter, cream, lard, suet and other animal fats, coconut meat and oil supplied additional saturated fatty acids in turn-of-the-century diets.

The “prudent” low-calorie, low-fat diet of Dr. Stamler and the American Heart Association is hardly a prescription for good health, even if sugar and white flour are absent. The Standard American Diet of a century ago was hearty and rich, and provided nutritious protective factors for strong bodies, freedom from degenerative disease and clear minds well into old age. The decline in the use of animal fats, far from adding benefit, is indeed a sad change, contributing to depressing, fatigue and a plague of chronic disease.

Eating the right kind of fats, healthy fats, which are described in Confused About Fats, from animals given a proper diet, (ruminants were created to eat grass, not grain) is key to maintaining a healthy life for animal and human alike.

Enjoy the popovers and eat them in good health!

popover collage

Joy Popovers

While I do recommend this recipe, which comes from the “All New Joy of Cooking” recipe book, as it has a nice ratio of flour to milk and eggs, they’ve left out some critical steps in their directions:

  1. ALL ingredients MUST be at room temperature. This is crucial.
  2. I prefer using a popover pan.
  3. If you use ramekins, make sure to butter and flour the sides, so the popover has something to “grip” when climbing
  4. After mixing the batter, allow to sit for a minimum of ONE HOUR at ROOM TEMPERATURE. Do not refrigerate. Even though this batter has eggs in it, I have let it sit as long as six hours at room temperature.
  5. Place a small (1/4 tsp) dollop of butter in the bottom of each tin or ramekin. Without it, this recipe will not work.
  6. For the healthiest fats, buy only grass-fed dairy products. I make my own butter, blogging and giving directions here

Preheat Oven to 450f

Whisk together and set aside:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (grind/sift your own spring white wheat)
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Whisk together in a 4-cup measuring cup (makes pouring into cups easier, later on in recipe)

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 1 T warm melted unsalted butter

  1. Whisk the dry ingredients into the wet.
  2. Allow to sit for at least one hour at ROOM TEMPERATURE. DO NOT REFRIGERATE.
  3. Prepare popover pan by placing 1/4 tsp of butter in the bottom of each cup.
  4. If using ramekins, butter bottoms and sides, lightly dust with flour or finely grated parmesan.
  5. Fill cups/ramekins 2/3 to 3/4 full.
  6. If there are extra cups in the popover pan, fill them with water.
  7. Bake at 450f for 15 minutes.
  8. Reduce oven to 350f and bake an additional 20 minutes.
  9. Serve immediately, piercing each with a sharp knife, giving steam an escape, so as not to burn precious fingers.
  10. Break open, spread with room temperature grass-fed home-made butter and organic strawberry jam.

Why Butter is Better

Butter Making 101, 102, 103, 104….

Food Timeline of Puddings

History of Popovers