Friday, December 18, 2009

Second Helping: Popovers

For years, I was under the impression that popovers were impossibly tricky, prone to collapse unless coddled in their own special popover pan.

And now I'm kicking myself for missing years of popover happiness. They're so easy, my 5-year-old could make them himself if he wasn't afraid of the blender. We use an ordinary muffin pan.

I love their versatility as a snack, a breakfast treat, or even a light meal. Serve them humbly on their own, with a bit of butter, or dress them by filling with chicken salad. At a recent playdate, I paired cardamom-kissed popovers with hard-cooked eggs and persimmon and fennel salad. The kids passed on fruits and vegetables, but they devoured the popovers, both plain and with a touch of maple syrup or apple butter. I imagine lemon curd would be tasty with these.

Best of all, they're fun to bake with kids. Hand the little ones a pastry brush and let them coat a muffin pan with butter. Put the batter in a small pitcher or measuring cup and help them fill the cups. Then turn on the oven light and peek through the window -- don't open the door! -- to watch the magic.

For a delightful breakfast treat, try dipping your popovers in cinnamon sugar with David Lebovitz's recipe for Sugared Puffs.

Do you have a favorite popover topping or filling?

Lemon-Cardamom Popovers

This makes 9 popovers in a muffin pan, or 6 in a popover pan. If you don't care for -- or have -- cardamom, substitute cinnamon, nutmeg, or allspice.

2 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
zest of 1/2 lemon
2 tablespoons butter, melted

Beat egg in medium bowl. Add milk and whisk well to combine. Stir in flour, cardamom, and lemon zest until smooth, then let batter rest for 30 minutes. Alternatively, you could combine the ingredients in a blender briefly.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Brush muffin or popover pan cups with butter -- kids can help with this part. Fill about half to two-thirds full with batter. Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for 15 to 20 minutes more. Do not open the oven while the popovers are baking!

Remove popovers from pan and enjoy while still hot. Apple butter is my favorite topping; you could also serve with butter, syrup, jam, or lemon curd.

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