My grandma was always hard to shop for; she didn’t need anything or want more stuff. Occasionally I would find some perfect small item (a coin purse she could actually unsnap or a necklace she didn’t have to clip), but eventually I came up with the perfect solution: coupons.
Over the years they became more elaborate with photos and perforations, but they started as simple Post-It notes. One would be good for a shopping trip to the mall, one would be good for a ride to a play or a picnic lunch or dessert from her favorite bakery.
One that I always included, though, was a trip to the flagship Dayton’s (later Marshall Fields, now Macy’s) store in downtown Minneapolis. We would go see the holiday exhibit on the 8th floor, then head up to the 12th floor to have lunch at the Oak Grill. A downtown institution since the 1940s, it also used to be a men’s club. Grandma remembered taking the streetcar downtown to meet my grandfather for lunch since she wasn’t allowed in without a male escort.
When we ate there, she giggled that the two of us “unattended” ladies could pop in anytime, even forty years later. She told me that story while we enjoyed the best part of the Oak Grill — complimentary popovers, baked fresh.
Popovers are so simple to make and dramatic to serve. The only downside is that they take 40 minutes to bake. It’s worth every second. The crust shatters and flakes to reveal a velvety, custard-like interior. They taste decadent, but with only 4 ingredients (none of which are butter), you can have two.
Use the baking time to read a book, make the rest of dinner, do some yoga, or whatever makes you happy.
I made these over Thanksgiving weekend in my mom’s cast iron popover pan since I don’t own one. You don’t need one, regular muffin tins or oven-safe custard cups also work. I misread the recipe and over-filled these. Instead of producing larger popovers like you might expect, the excess batter actually weighed them down. A second batch turned out much prettier but didn’t last long enough for photos.
Their name comes from the rapid oven spring which causes them to pop over the top of the pan.
Have you ever had a popover?
Adapted from the 1969 printing of Betty Crocker’s Cookbook
Makes 12-16 popovers
I made half-recipes both times I whipped these up last week. Feel free to replace the milk with an alternative — I used unsweetened soy milk with no problem. It helps to have an oven with a window as you should avoid opening the oven door during baking. Some people recommend piercing the popovers with a knife to let the steam escape and prevent deflation. We serve them with butter and honey.
- 4 large eggs
- 2 cups milk
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- butter or shortening for greasing
- Heat oven to 450F. Grease 12 custard cups (5 ounces) or 16 muffin cups.
- Beat eggs slightly. Add milk, flour, and salt. Beat just until smooth. Do not overmix.
- Fill custard cups 1/2 full, muffin cups 3/4 full of batter. Bake at 450 for 25 minutes.
- Lower oven temperature to 350F and continue baking 15-20 minutes until popovers are deep golden brown. Remove from pan immediately and serve hot.
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