Poppingovers. That's what my family called them in our silly familial parlance. You'd call them Popovers, so that's what I say these days, too, when I mention them out loud. In my heart, I will always call them Poppingovers.
I always loved Poppingovers but they were a Christmas Eve specialty. That was the only time we ever had them. Mother said they were difficult to make and that only she could do so; thus I never learned any more about the recipe. But one autumn evening, several years after Mother had gone, when the weather began to cool, I started longing for Poppingovers--light and crispy and puffed with air, served with enough butter that it runs, melted, down the wrist! But I was convinced that I could not make them--after all, Mother had said that it was too hard to do. Still, the more I thought about them, the more I wanted Poppingovers. I just had to have Poppingovers.
So, resorting to my usual theorem (i.e., What's the worst that could happen? Waste a few ingredients? Big deal!), I decided to try. I looked through lots of cookbooks. I searched online. All of the recipes were quite similar. The thing they differed on was technique. The technique I used on my first attempt worked just fine, so that's the way I've made them ever since. Why mess with success? The Poppingovers were brilliant! I have changed only the amounts of the ingredients to suit the size of the pan.
Once I had begun making Poppingovers, I thought they would be best made in a cast iron muffin pan but the prices for such things was very high and impossible for me to afford. I searched and I prayed because I really wanted one but found nothing that was affordable. Then one day as I was tidying cabinets, I found exactly the one I wanted at the back of a shelf in my own kitchen! I have no earthly idea where it came from. Was it Mother's? Was it mine? It had to be one of us. Could it have come from some long-ago yard sale? Was it bought new? I cannot begin to guess. But I know that my simple prayer was answered and that this little pan makes wonderfully happy Poppingovers.
Even if you haven't got a cast iron pan, Poppingovers are easy to make. My pan is small, so my recipe is as well. But if you have a larger pan, the recipe is easy to increase--just double it or triple it or just as you choose. The important thing is the technique, and that you must follow.
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup flour
butter for coating the pan
Of major importance: put the muffin pan in the cold oven. Heat to 450 degrees.
The egg and milk must be at room temperature. Beat the egg and allow it to rest in the mixing bowl as the oven and pan heat. Microwave the milk for 20 or 30 seconds--be sure that it is not too hot or it will cook the egg when you add it.
Just as the oven comes up to temperature, add the flour and salt. Beat with a mixer on medium speed for about a minute until the mixture is smooth.
Working quite quickly, remove the heated pan from the oven and grease. Be careful because it will be very hot! Fill the cups about 2/3 full. Return the pan to the oven just as fast as you can.
Bake 20 minutes. Lightly cover the tops of the Poppingovers with a sheet of aluminum foil. Reduce the oven heat to 350 degrees. Bake 20 minutes longer.
Remove the Poppingovers from the pan and serve warm with lashings of butter! Enjoy with a grateful heart just because Poppingovers are so simple and so good.
Now, these are the secrets to nicely popped Poppingovers:
- Keep the pan piping hot.
- Make sure the ingredients are warm and not cold at all.
I put my muffin pan on a small baking sheet just to make it easier to handle on taking it in and out of the oven; you might wish to do so as well because it helps to avoid burning your hands. Please note that you should heat the muffin pan on the baking sheet so that it is hot, too.
If you are blessed as I am to have a cast iron muffin pan, by all means use it because that will make the crispiest and best Poppingovers. If you have only a regular muffin pan, do not despair--it will still make lovely Poppingovers. Just try!
Every time I make Poppingovers, I think that they are the best ever. And so they are. Although they lose their crispness when leftover, they are still very tasty with a bit cheese. I made Poppingovers last night, and I'm looking forward to enjoying the leftovers this morning with a mug of tea.
Life is very, very good.
Have no fear,
despite what my Mother said
and remembering that she secretly did not like to cook at all,
Poppingovers are very easy to make.