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How Does One Make Killer Popovers?

I had dinner at BLT Steak in Los Angeles this weekend, and everything was very good, but by far the best part of the meal (I thought) were the absolutely amazing, monster popovers served at the beginning of the meal in lieu of bread. For those who haven't had the pleasure, these things are splendid, about the size of a football, and laced with Gruyere cheese. Really spectacular. (Picture, which, while good, still doesn't really do them justice, here: http://foodwhores.wordpress.com/2008/...

)

Anyway, I've tried to make popovers once or twice, and never had much success. I was hoping the hounds on this board might help me improve my game. Do you have a great recipe for popovers? Are there tricks to making them well? Do I need a special popover pan or other tools to get fantastic results? Any and all suggestions will be gratefully explored. TIA guys.

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Blt Steak
8720 West Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, CA 90069

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  1. Some tips for popovers that I've adhered to in the past with good results:

    - Use high protein flour, e.g. bread flour (not all purpose)

    - Once you have the batter incorporated and mixed, let it sit at room temperature for 70 to 90 minutes

    - Add a bit of baking powder to your batter

    1. According to Cooks' Illustrated, though it seems counter-intuitive, popovers puff to the same size regardless of pan. Not sure I buy that, but I have successfully used muffin tins, ramekins, and coffee cups. Some recipes want them going into a cold oven, others into a preheated pan in a very hot oven, so obviously there are lots of roads to the same destination.

      LT was on Martha making these once, and I wrote it down:
      BLT Gruyere Popovers:
      Preheat muffin tin or popover pan at 350.
      Sift 4c flour with 1 tbsp+2tsp coarse salt. Heat 4c milk until it bubbles slightly at the edges. Whisk 8 eggs in an electric mixer, slowly add the milk and then the flour. Remove hot pan from oven and spray with Pam. Fill the cups to the top and mound with 10 oz. grated Gruyere. Bake 15 min, rotate pan, and bake another 35 min. Makes 12.
      These can be cooled on a rack and kept at room temp up to 2 hrs, then reheated briefly at 450.

      3 Replies
      1. re: greygarious

        Grey's recipe sounds great......I always work with a pre-heated muffin pan in a hot oven. A well seasoned pan is a must, and even then spray it down well. Convection works great as well. Definetly rotate the pan. Always fill the cups up all the way. Make sure your batter is completely smooth and room temp before cooking. Forget cooling....eat immediately while their interior still has the correct texture.

        1. re: greygarious

          that's so funny - when i saw the title of the post, my initial response was going to be "use the recipe from BLT" :)

          1. re: greygarious

            i know this seems strange, but the size and shape of the pan DOES affect the puff factor. they obviously work best in a popover pan, but you CAN do it in muffin tins. just be sure to fill only to just below the lip.... honestly, i'm not exactly sure of the exact science on this, so i won't make something up. i just know i've tried in just about every container conceivable --- btw - not so great in mini bundt tins!!

          2. I too thought of that Martha episode as soon as I read the original post. I don't make popovers but make pretty good yorkshire puddings which are the same thing minus the butter. My discoveries include: lots of eggs (like Greygarious's recipe) make for a better poof. I've read if you don't have popover pans to use muffin pans but leave every other one empty so the heat can really circulate. Don't open the oven once you put them in! NO PEEKING!

            My mother swore by screeching hot muffin pans (the fat preheated w the pan), for yorkshires which works great . . . but I can't imagine how this would work with butter for popovers.

            1 Reply
            1. re: cinnamon girl

              OMG Yorkshire Pud is the best! You need the melted beef fat from the roast you're making. Pour it into your popover/muffin pan. And heat it good and hot in the oven. Then you pour in your batter. It hisses and then the magic happens.

            2. David Kahn: the BLT popover converted me too! I went out, bought a pan and everything! His recipe is great! Oddly though, I have had better luck with fresh batter on an actual pop-over pan, that has been thoroughly pre-heated, and sprayed, and buttered. Enjoy!

              1. Hello all you wonderful popover fans! My name is Jessica and I am the pastry chef here at BLT Steak.... Since there is clearly a bit of confusion on how to get your homemade popovers to rock like ours here at the restaurant, I figured I'd pass along a few tips.

                First: the actual ingredients listed on the the little recipe card that we give out with our popovers is correct
                Second: all you need to do is make slight adjustments on the prep part

                4 cups milk, heat to very hot, but NOT boiling
                8 eggs, cold
                4 cups, all-purpose flour (we recommend Medallion brand, as that is what we use)
                1 1/2 heaping Tbsp kosher salt
                2 1/4 cups gruyere cheese, finely grated (or swiss emmentaler)

                1 -- pre heat your oven to 350 degrees, with the popover pan in it. you want the pan nice and hot!
                2 -- heat milk on stove top until very hot, but NOT boiling
                3 -- measure and combine all purpose flour and salt. set aside
                4 -- in a stand mixer (or electric hand mixer), whip eggs until frothy (at least 3-4 minutes) on medium-high speed
                5 -- reduce speed and slowly add about 2/3 of your hot milk to your eggs
                6 -- a large scoop at a time, add all of your flour and salt
                7 -- add remaining milk, and mix until smooth
                8 -- strain through a wire mesh strain, cover, and set aside. you can bake them about 15-20 minutes later, BUT i personally highly recommend allowing the batter to rest for about 45-60 mins
                9 -- remove hot pans from oven, spray liberally with non-stick pan spray, and pour batter all the way to the top, almost overflowing. sprinkle the top liberally with the grated cheese
                10 -- bake in oven for 25 minutes, rotate, and bake another 25 minutes (depending upon your oven, you may need another 5 minutes). remove from pans immediately and ENJOY!!!

                wishing you all happy popover adventures and i can't wait to see you all in the restaurant soon!

                chef jessica

                24 Replies
                1. re: chefjess

                  Thank you Jessica! Very kind of you to share.

                  (And, seriously, I love this board!)

                  1. re: David Kahn

                    No kidding! I just inherited a popover pan from a favorite uncle. Clearly I can't make these often [so much milk and butter] but for a special occasion, oh yea. I am there. Thank you so much chef jessica.

                  2. re: chefjess

                    How many popovers does that recipe make?

                    1. re: CindyJ

                      Judging by the quantity of milk and flour in the recipe, it probably makes 12 popovers. The Cook's Country recipe below uses half the milk and flour and makes 6 popovers.

                      1. re: CindyJ

                        about 12-15 depending upon your pan

                      2. re: chefjess

                        Jessica, Thank you. I'm from the east coast, but this does sound like a killer recipe!

                        2 questions: (1) I've always thought/read that you should not fill to the top for popovers. By filling to the top and then topping with cheese, doesn;t that impact the rising?

                        ans (2) What kind of popover pan do you use or recommend? I've been using the Chicago Metallic nonstick, and disaster this year -- silver coating on the popovers!!!

                        Thanks.

                        1. re: DTodrin

                          I had a similar problem with the first Chicago Metallic pan I bought at Williams-Sonoma -- the non-stick coating started coming off. I thought it was because I put the pan in the dishwasher. I never saw any of the coating on any popovers. I brought it back to the store and they gave me a new one, which I've been using for a couple of years now with no problems. I hand-wash it, though.

                          1. re: CindyJ

                            Hi Cindy,

                            Note, I've also sent Chicago metallic a note -- I will post what they say. My pans are 3 years old, and I have always hand washed...

                            Has anyone used the nordic ware cast aluminum popover pans?

                            What about silicone?

                            1. re: DTodrin

                              The Nordicware Grand Popover Pan is wonderful. Check it out on amazon. It's got all 5 star reviews. I just bought it and have used it 3 times. So far, so good. It's very sturdy and high quality. I will always wash by hand too.

                          2. re: DTodrin

                            fill to the top, and allow it to almost spill over. actual HELPS it to puff better - and make sure the cheese isn't touching the pan. as it melts, it creates a web that inhibits puffing!

                            i like the popover pans that crate & barrel sells, but honestly it shouldn't matter. believe it or not, non-stick isn't the best. a good pan works best when it's well-seasoned and heavily sprayed. i like vegelene brand spray (flavor-less) and pam.

                            1. re: chefjess

                              Chef Jessica, THANK YOU! I made your recipe for Thanksgiving, and the popovers were the big success of the meal! They turned out absolutely PERFECTLY, and no one even wanted to put any butter on them, they were so flavorful. I will absolutely be making these again!

                              1. re: chefjess

                                Chef Jessica---THANK YOU!! I have been making these for a few years now, but until I read your post---had not strained the batter through a mesh strainer and had not let the batter rest for an hour. Noticable improvement. I made these for Thanksgiving dinner and turned out PERFECT! Many thanks!

                                1. re: apple342

                                  i'm SO glad to see that many of you tried the hints here over the holidays to much success! you'd be surprised the number of people i give these tips to on a regular basis! SO sorry it took me so long to reply -- holidays are crazy times for us chefs!

                                  cheers & happy baking, friends!

                                2. re: chefjess

                                  Thank you Chef Jessica,
                                  Our friends went to BLT in Hollywood and actually made these fantasic popovers just like yours. I didn't ask for the recipe since they went so I waited to go and then we went recently as well and I picked up your recipe and I will make them too. Thank you for taking the time to let us all know your secrets! I passed the recipe on to my family in Hawaii!

                                  Thanks again

                                  1. re: chefjess

                                    jessica: i've been meaning to thank you. my daughter went to your restaurant last year and raved about the popovers. after you posted the recipe, she made them for our xmas eve dinner. they were absolutely delicious - even great left over! definitely in our food rotation.

                                    1. re: justanotherpenguin

                                      Isn't "leftover popovers" an oxymoron?

                                      1. re: CindyJ

                                        definition of oxymoron: "conjoining contradictory terms (as in `deafening silence')"
                                        don't see how this would apply. please enlighten me.

                                        1. re: justanotherpenguin

                                          As an English major in college I can aver to the fact that "leftover popovers" may be considered an oxymoron. CindyJ's point was that popovers are so great the idea of leftovers simply could not occur.

                                          It is not absolutely necessary for the terms to be specifically opposite, the contradiction can be implied, such as in "military intelligence". The use of the word intelligence would seem to imply the military lacks intelligence---a concept with which I do not adhere. Our military does a great job, often times in spite of insurmountable odds.

                                          Robert Hayes Halfpenny

                                    2. re: chefjess

                                      Can anyone recommend the best way to store the leftovers?

                                      1. re: sasha1

                                        Leftover popovers are sad, chewy, leathery things. If more than a few hours go by before reheating, the "flopovers" are disappointing. Better to make only as many as you need. You could always make less batter, or save the extra batter in the fridge, since there is no baking powder.

                                        1. re: greygarious

                                          I should've known better, given the 4 cups of flour in the recipe. Had my 2 little boys liked them, we would've been ok. But I think they were too eggy for their taste, so we ended up w/10 big leftover ones. Too much to eat in 2 days...

                                        2. re: sasha1

                                          while they are not the same, they do stay quite tasty and dense. all we did was put them in plastic sealed bags (not refrigerated), then took them out and zapped in the microwave. they only lasted two mornings after the original dinner destination, but were quite delicious.

                                        3. re: chefjess

                                          Does it work just as well if you cut the recipe in half to make 6 popovers instead of 12?

                                        4. Try the Cook's Country Popovers recipe. The recipe is easy and really works well.

                                          1. This is a foolproof recipe that makes mile-high popovers.

                                            **** Paraphrased recipe ****

                                            Perfect Popovers

                                            Cook's Country (Cook's Illustrated)

                                            Cook's Country TV from the episode: Old-Fashioned Roast Beef Dinner

                                            For best results in releasing popovers from the pan
                                            grease popover pan with shortening or cooking spray.
                                            Don't grease pan with butter.
                                            Don't open oven door during cooking, use oven light
                                            and view popovers through window to check on their progress.
                                            The highest and sturdiest popovers are made using
                                            bread flour. All purpose flour may be substituted, however.

                                            Makes 6 popovers.

                                            Ingredients

                                            Vegetable shortening (see note above)
                                            3 large eggs
                                            2 cups low-fat milk , heated to 110 degrees
                                            3 tablespoons unsalted butter , melted and cooled slightly
                                            2 cups bread flour (see note above)
                                            1 teaspoon salt
                                            1 teaspoon sugar

                                            Instructions

                                            1. Place oven rack on lower-middle position.
                                            Preheat oven to 450-F. Grease popover cup interiors of
                                            a standard 6-popover pan with shortening or cooking spray.
                                            (Don't use butter). Dust the popover cup interiors
                                            lightly with flour.
                                            In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs until they are
                                            light and foamy. Whisk in the milk and butter slowly
                                            until they are well mixed.

                                            2. In another mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt
                                            and sugar. Whisk 3/4 of the milk mixture into the
                                            flour mixture. Whisk until all lumps are gone. Now
                                            whisk in the remainder of the milk mixture. Pour
                                            popover batter into a large measuring cup and cover
                                            with plastic wrap. Allow the popover batter to
                                            rest, at room temperature for 1 hour. (The batter
                                            can also be stored in the fridge for 24 hours. Bring
                                            chilled batter to room temperature before baking.)

                                            3. After resting 1 hour, whisk the batter to make sure it is uniform.
                                            Pour all of the batter into the 6-popover cups. Each of
                                            the cups will not be filled all the way to the top.
                                            Bake until popovers just begin to brown, around
                                            20-minutes. Don't open the oven door, but turn
                                            the oven temperature down to 300-F. Continue baking
                                            until the popovers are uniformly golden brown, about
                                            35 to 40 minutes longer. Use a skewer to poke a small
                                            hole in the top of each popover. Continue baking until
                                            they are deep golden brown. About another 10-minutes.
                                            Remove popover pan from oven and place on a wire rack.
                                            Poke top of popovers again with a skewer. Allow to
                                            cool for 2-minutes. Turn popovers out of the pan and serve.

                                            4. Cooled popovers can be stored up to 2-days, at
                                            room temperature, in a ziplock bag. Reheat in a
                                            400-F oven for 5 to 8 minutes on a baking sheet.
                                            They should be heated through and crisp when served.

                                            1. I look for thick heavy pans to cook popovers in. Since I don't have popover pans, I use my largest ramekins. I generously butter the dishes but don't preheat. I dust the buttered interiors with plenty of cinnamon suger for breakfast popovers (add a little vanilla to the batter too), and parmesan cheese or somthing similar for dinner.

                                              The cinnamon sugar dusting results in a really delicious, relatively high protein warm breakfast treat. You have to remove them immediatly before the sugar hardens in the pan. It gives a crispy, sweet slightly carmelized crust with a soft eggy interior. Great with coffee. I just mix the eggs, flour and milk in a blender. I don't heat up the milk, don't preheat the pans and don't let the mixture sit. I do bake in a convention oven and don't open the door until they are done. And I never have any leftovers.

                                              1. Are these the same concept as yorkshire puddings, minus the addition of heated fat? If so, I made some great ones last week with some duck fat. I thought I'd recreate it by subbing butter in (didn't want to use all the duck fat up in one week - sheesh) and boy was that a bad idea. It made them really really dark on the outside. I also noticed that they didn't "popover" as high. Maybe the butter doesn't heat up as high as the duck fat did? Either way I did it in your standard muffin tin and it came out pretty damn well.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: bitsubeats

                                                  WOW. super busy! Just came across this thread and while cooking bland meals for people recently (cooking in bulk, on budget for hungry people) I had to respond to this and attach our photo (to remind me of a recent elegant meal)...my husband adds the drippings from the pan (which we cooked a rib roast in for example) and greases the sides of a basic muffin tin with it... then uses his standard classic popover recipe. They're always SO awesome and beautiful! (He'll be making frozen rolls 2nite however!) :(

                                                   
                                                2. I find Alton Brown's recipe super simple and has never failed me..

                                                  http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/go...

                                                  1. Has anyone made these in ceramic ramekins?

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: runwestierun

                                                      Before I got a cast iron popover pan, I used muffin tins, coffee cups, deep custard cups/ramekins, and the typical 6 oz white ceramic ramekins with the fluted pattern on the outside. They all work fine, as long as you preheat them. They are easiest to handle if you put them on a sheet pan so you're not touching each one when it's hot.

                                                    2. I've had no-fail stunning results from Shirley Corriher's recipe in Bakewise (although she, piecrust, and I cannot seem to get on the same page). She swears the trick is to have everything incredibly hot. But now I HAVe to try Chef Jessica's recipe--thanks!

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: palomalou

                                                        And I've never failed with an old Pyrex recipe which has everything cold...

                                                      2. I suspect you want to make some from scratch. However King Arthur flours has a popover mix which I have used and they are excellent. Could be the restaurant used a mix as well.

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: Ruthie789

                                                          The recipe at BLT Steak is not from a mix. The pastry chef from the restaurant actually provided the complete recipe above:
                                                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6435...

                                                          They're truly wonderful popovers and I don't think a boxed mix - even one from KAF - can compare. The fresh milk (as opposed to powder reconstituted with water) really makes a difference. I don't doubt that the KAF ones are good, but make the BLT recipe sometime and you'll see why we're all obsessed with them ;)

                                                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                            I will do I offered the mix as an alternative. Sometimes it is handy to have something preprepared. However, KAF, has to sit for 20 minutes before cooking so not all that convenient.

                                                        2. Buy a popover pan, and use the CI recipe -- no better popovers anywhere.