When I was in elementary school, my mom shared with me her love of the Ginny and Geneva books (Catherine Woolley, 1968), a sweet children’s book series about dear friends in the 1950s(ish) era. It was all housewifey and gender stereotypical, with the young friends playing with their cats, starting a babysitting business, sewing, and a bunch of other activities that would make me crazy if presented now as the only life options for girls. I bring this distant memory back to the surface–and believe me, I had to dig around on the internet to find the books–for one reason. In one book, Ginny wants to have a bake stand of sorts– I guess I should be impressed that this girl was obsessed with starting a small business– and is trying to decide what her product should be. The conversation with her mother includes popovers (“they almost always pop”) but she finally settles on brownies.
I’ve never made a popover in my life. I don’t remember my mother, baker extraordinaire, ever making popovers. They are an odd concept to me, as I am a bread lover, and these little gems just aren’t, well, anything. But I’ve never forgotten the scene in that book, and I had to see for myself. This recipe promised to be simple (Good Housekeeping, October 2015) .
3 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons butter, melted, plus more for greasing
1/2 teaspoon salt
Blend 1 1/2 t cumin, 1 t smoked paprika, and 1/4 t black pepper into batter.
The variations are not listed on the GH website, but they were in the printed recipe. I chose the Savory Spiced variation for this attempt. I loved the idea of whipping these babies up in the blender. I used both sizes of the ramekins– the smaller I keep around for creme brulee, and the larger I keep on hand for lava cakes. I sprayed the cups with lots of non-stick spray. As I poured the batter into the cups, I realized I completely forgot the salt! Rookie mistake. UGH!
The salt obviously affected the flavor, but I don’t know if it affected the rising and popping of the rolls. They definitely rose over the sides of the cups, and released nicely. They were light and airy, but I think they could have baked longer– they seemed a tad wet in the center. It was just so weird to bite into a hollow biscuit. I didn’t get a lot of the spice flavors, maybe the cumin a little bit. I would say they were bland at best; even sprinkling salt over them post-baking only livened them up a little. I will try again, but I think I will add cheese and go heavy on herbs or spices. I’d also like to try smaller sized popovers, so I may use muffin cups and fill them only halfway. Verdict: not a complete fail, but not necessarily a recipe that’s going to get a lot of replay here. Also, take the 3 hour room temperature rule to heart. I left my leftovers out (in a plastic airtight container) in the dining room and they were moldy 2 days later.