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No-fail popovers, no specialty pan required

by America's Test Kitchen (TCA) | February 3, 2021 at 6:05 a.m. | Updated February 3, 2021 at 3:45 p.m.
The ideal popover is crisp and well browned on the outside and hollow on the inside.

Buttered popovers are a great accompaniment to dinner, and they take far less time to make than rolls. Or drizzled with honey or smeared with jam, they make a delightful breakfast, brunch or snack.

The ideal popover is crisp and well browned on the outside and hollow on the inside, with inner walls that are lush and custardy. And the ideal popover recipe can be made in a popover pan or a muffin tin. We engineered our no-fuss recipe to check both boxes.

We started with bread flour. The extra gluten-forming protein in bread flour helped produce popovers that were about 30 percent taller than those made with all-purpose flour. And their higher walls were also thinner, making them a bit crisper, and that crispness held up as they cooled.

We also found streamlined ways to circumvent a couple of common steps. Many recipes call for preheating the popover pan to jump-start the "pop," but we found it equally effective (and a little safer) to warm the batter instead by adding heated milk. Most recipes call for lowering the oven temperature after the popovers reach their maximum height to prevent the outsides from burning, but we found zeroing in on the ideal baking temperature - 400 degrees - ensured a perfect bake inside and out, with less fuss.

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Makes: 6-8 servings

1 1/4 cups (6 3/4 ounces) bread flour

3/4 teaspoon table salt

1 1/2 cups 2 percent low-fat milk, heated to 110 to 120 degrees

3 large eggs

Salted butter

1. Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly spray cups of popover pan with vegetable oil spray. Using a paper towel, wipe out cups, leaving a thin film of oil on bottom and sides.

2. Whisk together flour and salt in an 8-cup liquid measuring cup or medium bowl. Add milk and eggs and whisk until mostly smooth (some small lumps are OK). Distribute batter evenly among prepared cups in the popover pan. Bake until popovers are lofty and deep golden brown all over, 40 to 45 minutes. Serve hot, passing butter separately.

Recipe notes

This batter comes together quickly, so start heating your oven before gathering your ingredients and equipment.

Our recipe works best in a 6-cup popover pan, but you can substitute a 12-cup muffin tin, distributing the batter evenly among the 12 cups; start checking these smaller popovers after 25 minutes.

Whole or skim milk can be used in place of the low-fat milk.

We strongly recommend weighing the flour for this recipe.

Do not open the oven during the first 30 minutes of baking; if possible, use the oven window and light to monitor the popovers.

Leftover popovers can be stored in a zipper-lock bag at room temperature for up to two days; reheat directly on middle rack of 300-degree oven for 5 minutes.

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