This post was inspired by Cindy Martin, who found the vintage baking pan story and wrote to ask what popovers were and whether I had a recipe.
How could there be anyone who doesn’t know what a popover is? thought I.
Then I realized – but of course! Popover innocence would be almost a given if no one in your family baked. These addictive quick breads are easy to make but impossible to manufacture commercially. They don’t just have to be oven-fresh to be any good, they pretty much have to be oven fresh to exist whatsoever.
Having grown up making and eating popovers without realizing there was mythology attached, I got ready to answer Cindy’s question by simply writing down the formula I learned when I was about thirteen. But then, just to be sure I hadn’t missed anything, I undertook some research.
To my surprise – I’m often the last to realize these things – popovers have a reputation for being difficult. Everywhere I looked, in print and online, recipes were full of warnings, injunctions, caveats and ironclad rules, many of them contradictory: Use a hot oven; use a cold oven; beat the batter thoroughly; don’t over mix the batter; let the batter rest; use the batter right away; be sure you develop the gluten; be sure you don’t develop the gluten. Oy.
Here’s what: advice about popovers probably offers the highest ratio of balderdash to useful information I’ve ever seen for a formula that has only 5 ingredients.