Friday, June 14, 2013

Popovers for One (in a muffin tin!)

Sometimes it's easy to feel sorry for myself when all my friends are off travelling and hanging out together. But you know what? I'm going to take the positive side of things for once.

Alone time means baking time.


It's so much more enjoyable to throw something into the oven rather than throw a pity party. I suppose you could do both, but I find that carbs don't weigh on my conscience so much when I'm smiling.

I was perusing through food blogs yesterday when I stumbled across popovers, and thought, wow- those look amazing!


I read somewhere that the popover is the show-off cousin to the Yorkshire pudding, and found the epithet quite pleasingly accurate. On one side, the British one being self-deprecatory and typically a side note to a meaty Sunday roast, while the American popover steals the show. Both have their merits.


(But secretly I admire the chutzpah of the popover.)

So many of the recipes that I subsequently googled were meant to yield a dozen or even two dozen popovers, or required a popover pan. I suppose this is a good thing if you're preparing for a large picnic or dinner party, but I ain't got time fo' that! I wanted popovers just for myself.


But even I have my limits. I don't think I can eat 12 popovers without feeling like a lump of dough myself.

So here is my version of this popovers recipe, adapted to serve one person! This means: 3 popovers in regular-sized muffin tins. Plus, the recipe requires pretty basic ingredients, and you don't need any yeast for these fun bread roll-like popovers! It's like magic!


INGREDIENTS
- ⅓ cup milk
- ⅓ cup AP flour
- pinch of salt
- 1 large egg
- just under ½ Tbsp vegetable oil *
- ½ Tbsp butter, melted (or cooking spray) **
- (optional) shredded cheddar or Colby Jack cheese

*You can substitute ½ Tbsp melted butter, but I used up the butter for greasing the muffin tins and was so repulsed by the smell (my mom too-successfully weaned me off of butters and fats) that I decided to go with oil instead.
** Optional: see comments below.
Preheat your oven to 450°F. It will take awhile for it to heat up, so do this before anything else. When you've done this, generously grease 3 muffin tin cups with melted butter or cooking spray. You can even forgo this step if you want, but the popovers will stick to the tins - I tried one without buttering the tin, and it actually didn't stick too badly; it only needed a little coaxing with a knife, but if you're going for perfection, better to oil up!) Note: it only took 30 seconds for my ½ Tbsp butter to melt in the microwave, so start out with a small increment of time.


In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the milk, flour, and salt. Don't worry if it's a bit lumpy! Batters come in all shapes and sizes, and still taste good :D


Add the egg, and stir well to make sure the egg is incorporated well into the rest of the mixture. (Alternately, you could beat the egg before adding it in, but I was too lazy.) I cracked the egg into the bowl with which I had melted the butter, so as to pick up any remaining butter.


Then add the oil, and mix. The mixture will be quite runny.


If you'd like to add some shredded or grated cheese, please do! I only added a little bit because I was wary of altering the recipe too much, but I'd say that a good handful of cheese would work. You could also try some ground black pepper, or chopped chives, or whatever else happens to inspire you at the moment!


Hopefully your oven will be preheated to 450°F by now, but if it isn't, it should soon be ready. (Meanwhile, I watched one of my favorite movies...)

The Breakfast Club
When your oven is ready, heat the prepared muffin pan in the hot oven for 1 to 1½ minutes. This is what allows you to use a muffin tin instead of popover tins, which capture heat more readily than the standard muffin pan. If you're too impatient to wait for the oven to heat up completely or if it's taking an extraordinarily long time and you don't want the butter/oil to evaporate, slide the tin in but keep a close eye (and nose) on it.

(The butter is apparently supposed to sizzle, but I think a little bit of egg mixture got into the tins and instead it was starting to burn, setting off the smoke detector. Oops! I quickly removed the tin from the oven and fished out the offending piece of blackened egg.  Crisis averted! This should not cause any problems for you if you don't spill egg into the butter/cooking spray.)

Take out your muffin pan carefully from the oven, and spoon your batter into the three muffin wells/cups. They should each be about ¾ full. (You may want to put a paper towel under the tin while you're transferring the mixture, because it can get kinda messy if you get distracted like I did.)


Bake the popovers at 450°F for 15 minutes without opening the oven. (Resist the temptation! If you open the oven door, the popovers will deflate, and will no longer be 'popovers.' If you must take a peek, turn on the oven light if you have one.)


Then lower the temperature to 350°F and bake for 15 minutes more. If you're making larger-sized popovers, you may need to let them cook for 5 minutes more.

Turn the oven off, and take your muffin tin out using oven mitts. Carefully remove the popovers from the tins, and check that the bottoms have browned. The ones that I buttered already popped out on their own, while I needed to apply a butterknife to the sides of the unbuttered popover.


Use a toothpick or thin chopstick to poke a hole in the top of each popover. This will let out a little bit of the steam that worked so well to puff up the popovers. (You can see a little bit of steam from the rightmost popover in the photo!)


There may be some gooey spots left, so let them dry out in the oven for up to 10 minutes. You can either keep them in the muffin tin for this or transfer them to a baking sheet.


Eat these while they're still warm!


These go great with jam and also all kinds of leftovers. I had them with a bit of shredded chicken and enoki mushrooms with peanut sauce that my mom made last night. The little air pockets in the popovers are good for loading the chicken into! (Ooh, these would probably be amazing with chicken salad or sauteed mushrooms.) They're also tasty enough on their own! Oh- and they are perfect for breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, or even a snack!


Popovers are definitely something that I want to try again. I'm even smiling just looking at these photos. :) Hope you like them too!

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