Celebrating Modern Jewish Living Through Food, Tradition, and Family
Giant popovers deliver a true wow factor to a holiday table. They’re huge golden rolls that are flaky, light, and with a perfect touch of chewiness.
The Backstory: I can find no trace of anything whatsoever that links cultural or culinary Judaism to or with the popover, but I am taking some creative license and making it up right here. Giant popovers are fairly close in ingredients, taste, and structure to Yorkshire Pudding, and I happen to have an English grandmother, and as we all know, many of our ancestors hail from merry Old England (do you get where I’m going with this?…) More of the Backstory after the recipe…
- 6 large eggs
- 2 cups milk
- 6 tbsp. butter
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. Kosher salt
- vegetable oil or softened butter for lining the baking pan
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease popover pan or custard cups with a little softened butter or about a 1/2 tsp. of vegetable oil per cup. Set aside while oven preheats.
In a large bowl, with electric mixer at low speed, beat eggs until frothy. Beat in milk and butter.
At low speed, beat flour add salt into egg mixture.
When the oven reaches 375 degrees, put the greased popover pan or greased custard cups on the baking sheet into the oven for exactly three minutes. After three minutes, carefully remove from oven and pour about 3/4 cup batter into each popover or custard cup.
Bake for one hour and remove from oven. Make a small slit in the top of each popover to release steam. Return to oven and bake for 10 more minutes.
Immediately remove popovers from pan or custard cups. Serve hot.
…The Backstory continues: So, from this day forward, I am granting honorary Jewish status to the giant popover and giving it a warm welcome to The Jewish Kitchen. And why not? They are delicious, flaky, and they meet most Jewish bakers’ butter requirements (i.e. they contain butter, LOL), and if you try one, well, you won’t be able to stop there.
I started making popovers when I was dating (another story for another day) a Jewish guy who was pretty much raised on all things WASP. Honest to God, he was the spitting image of a Brooks Brothers cover, except he was as Jewish as the next guy named Aaron (detail for you), but he had a propensity for all things Anglo. Let’s forget about the fact that he was proudly Jewish, loved a good pastrami on rye, always took me to the most fabulous deli called Lou and Hy’s whenever we visited his family in Akron, Ohio. Nonetheless, he liked to think of himself as a Jew in WASP clothing and, well, what can I tell you? He was a world traveler who read Graham Greene, the J. Peterman catalog, and drove a Volvo. And so I learned to make popovers.
Darn it if they weren’t so good. The thing is, I served them alongside Grandma’s Sweet and Sour Meatballs, which he soaked right up with the popovers. (My mother didn’t raise a dummy.)
I’ll admit I was a bit intimidated when I first made these. For one thing, I thought I needed a fancy popover pan, and so I bought one, at the equally fancy Williams Sonoma, even though, as a rule, I despise having to buy one specific pan or gadget that has a single purpose. The pan works perfectly, but truth be told (and no offense to WS, whose products I adore), you can also use deep custard cups placed on a baking sheet and they work just as well.
There are two tricks to making perfect popovers–and they are important. First: grease the popover pan or custard cups with a little oil or softened butter and put it in the preheated oven for 3 minutes to heat up before you pour the batter into the pan. Be careful when you take the pan out of the oven to add the batter as it will be screaming hot. Second: make sure you have plenty of headroom between the top of your pan and the roof of your over. These babies rise–sometimes four (or more) inches when they bake, and if they hit the roof of your oven during the baking process, that’s it–they will char and burn. Bake them in the bottom oven and remove the upper rack. This is a lesson I’ve learned the hard way.
P.S. The boyfriend didn’t last, but fast-forward some 30 years, but popovers are one of my children’s most popular requests, especially at Thanksgiving. So, to him, I give thanks.