Popovers, light and hollow rolls made from an egg batter, are a yeast-free, sugar-free treat. Popovers are an American recipe that are thought to have descended from English batter puddings and Yorkshire puddings, although the origin is a bit uncertain. Puddings in medieval times were not like today’s custard-like desserts, but rather were meat-based.
According to Food Timeline, “17th century English puddings were either savory (meat-based) or sweet (flour, nuts & sugar) and were typically boiled in special pudding bags.” In the 1840s, as Americans found that they did not need to boil traditional puddings to feed their families because there was enough of a food supply, Alfred Bird introduced custard powder as an alternative to thickeners made from eggs. “It wasn’t long before Americans began using custard powder and other cornstarch derivatives as thickeners for custard-type desserts. This proved quite useful for overlander (conestoga wagon) cooks who did not have ready access to a reliable supply of fresh eggs.”
However, Chef James Beard claimed that the American popover was not derived from the English Yorkshire pudding – so it’s up to you to decide the popover’s origin; perhaps you can create a new recipe and make it your own classic.
One word of caution from the cook – a popover tin will provide the best results; using a muffin tin may cause disappointment to you and others at your dinner table.
Popovers (Adapted from Martha Stewart): Makes 12
2 1/2 c milk
2 1/2 c all purpose flour
6 whole lg eggs
2 lg egg yolks
1/4 c very soft butter
Heat oven 425 degrees. Whisk milk, flour, salt until just incorporated. Will be lumpy.
Beat in eggs and yolks one at a time, until just incorporated. Do not over mix. Will be lumpy.
Brush inside of popover tins with generous amount of butter. Divide batter evenly among tins. Bake 20 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350; bake until puffed and golden brown, 15-20 minutes more. Serve immediately.