Popovers are usually thought of as a type of roll to make with roast beef, using the suet as the shortening and using the popovers to sop up the beef ‘juices’. In the immortal words of Penfold of the Danger Mouse cartoons, “Oh, ick!” I’ve made vegetarian popovers for many years and they are not only extremely easy to make, but fun to eat. My recipe contains dairy products, but any vegan cook could whip some up with rice or soy milk.
Popovers are made from a simple batter which relies on very high heat and steam to make them puff. There are two baking temperatures, the first is high to create steam for the lift-off, so to speak, and the second is moderate for the cooking through to the tender insides. For the last few minutes of baking you should stick each popover with a fork to release the steam, otherwise they’ll end up soggy.
You have to eat popovers right away, with as much butter as your conscience will allow. Or use them to sop up vegetarian gravy. You can also add cinnamon or nutmeg into the batter and serve them for breakfast.
For years I made popovers in oven-proof custard dishes. They didn’t rise as high and were wider than normal, but me and my children managed to choke them down pretty well.
Then I bought myself a real popover pan. I’m a real sucker for shaped baking pans. I think I could keep Nordicware in business if I didn’t control myself.
I don’t even bake very much anymore, but I do love my castle bundt pan, or turkey cake pan that my daughter bought me (there is a story there. I’ll tell it later*.) There are worse vices. I think. The popovers in the popover pan look terrific and are very impressive, but they eat just the same way that the custard cup ones did. So, go make some popovers! What are you waiting for?
- 1 tablespoon butter or vegetable oil
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup milk
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper (opt.)
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon or nutmeg if you are making breakfast popovers)
- Heat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Put ½ teaspoon of butter or oil in each of six 6-ounce oven-proof custard cups or in each cup of a popover pan. Coat the bottom and sides.
- Place custard cups on a cookie sheet, if using.
- In a blender, mixer, or in a bowl with a wire whisk, beat eggs, milk and oil until combined. Beat to blend; don't incorporate too much air into the batter.
- Add flour (and spice if using) and combine until smooth.
- Divide batter between prepared cups; each should be half full.
- Bake for twenty minutes in 400 degree oven, then reduce the heat to 350 and bake fifteen minutes more.
- Turn oven off.
- With the tip of a knife or a fork, prick the tops of the popovers and allow them to stay in the oven for about five minutes more. Popovers should be firm and crisp on the outside, and tender on the inside.
- Remove popovers from oven; turn out of pan or cups and serve immediately.
- Makes six.
* Okay, so here’s the turkey cake story. My daughter gave me this fabulous turkey cake mold last year. I decided to have Thanksgiving early with my son, then fly to her university to have Thanksgiving with her. I made most of the meal and packed it up in my carry-on (no liquids!). After some debate with myself, I caved in to my sillier side and baked a pumpkin cake in the turkey pan and sandwiched the sides together with buttercream frosting. It looked perfect! I wrapped that sucker up in lots of plastic wrap, stuck in on top in my carry-on, and headed for Carlsbad airport.
Flying out of a small airport is the only way to go. Small lines, easy parking, and a not-so-hostile security. When my carry-on went through the X-ray machine, I wasn’t surprised when they pulled it off and called me over. I explained to the very nice female officer that the dark blob in my bag was a pumpkin cake shaped like a turkey. She said that they’d have to check it again, which they did. She and another security officer had a good laugh at the image and when she brought it back to me she said that in profile it looked exactly like a small real turkey on the screen. Then much more seriously she asked if I was going to change planes on my trip. When I told her that I was, in Los Angeles, she quickly advised, “Don’t go out of the security area there!” I don’t think the Los Angeles airport security force, on a high-risk day-before Thanksgiving holiday, would feel so friendly towards my turkey cake.