It’s Thanksgiving and Christmas Basket season again. Just like every year at this time, I am up to my eyeballs in coordinating this holiday charity project that provides the groceries that will make holiday dinners for needy families in my neighborhood, and Christmas presents for the children, too. We helped 52 families at Thanksgiving. And now we’re headed straight toward Christmas Basket delivery day like a runaway freight train with boxcars full of presents and turkeys and produce and volunteers and spreadsheets and…
You know that thing that happens when you have been working on something really difficult and time consuming and a deadline is looming, and you decide that you absolutely MUST clean the entire house from top to bottom, knit a sweater, and reorganize your spice cupboard? Or in my remote past, assemble an entire Victorian dollhouse from a kit, when what I really needed to be doing was to finish my research so I could actually graduate from grad school. I think you know what I’m talking about.
Well, something of that sort came over me a few weeks ago. Out of the blue, I decided that it was time to master the art of the popover. I have gone on record as saying that I’m not much of a baker. And yet, it suddenly seemed of the utmost importance to not only make baked goods, but fussy, tricky baked goods of the sort that lead people to leave despairing pleas for advice in online forums. I found a few recipes that looked good and promised to produce popovers that would reliably puff up into light, airy pastries. I foolishly – if predictably – ruined the first batch by substituting cream for milk because I had cream and it sounded good. I forced myself to comply with the next recipe, and still produced hockey pucks.
Then Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce came from the library. I have heard many awed and reverent reviews of this book, and eagerly looked forward to seeing for myself. I was leafing through the pages, reading bits here and there, admiring the beautiful pictures, when it occurred to me to look for a popover recipe. There was indeed a recipe, one that looked wonderful and included helpful suggestions. The recipe called for Boyce’s Multigrain Flour Mix, so I flipped to that page and saw that I already had three of the five flours, but a trip to the co-op would be needed for the other two. Not that I minded more distractions from the Christmas Baskets! Off to the co-op!
The Multigrain Flour Mix makes 4 cups, quite a bit more than is needed for the popovers. I put the rest in the freezer, and I expect it will be perfect for making whole grain bread in the bread machine, or in muffins.
The popovers were ridiculously easy to make – a little bit like German Pancakes, but on a much smaller scale. Just mix, pour into heavily buttered muffin cups, and bake. And they puffed! Oh, how gloriously they puffed. They came out of the oven golden brown and as fluffy as cumulus clouds.
When pulled open, the popovers were hollow. The outsides were crusty, and the insides a bit creamy. More butter was hardly needed, but I slathered it on anyway, and a touch of blackberry jam. Delicious.
These popovers are at their best fresh from the oven. They would make an ideal Christmas morning breakfast, with a cup of coffee or cocoa after the presents and stockings have been opened. And they are still quite edible if rewarmed in the oven later in the day, but will lose their light freshness quickly, so eat them all on day one. That shouldn’t be too onerous of a task.
Multigrain Flour Mix
(from Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce)
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 cup oat flour
1 cup barley flour
1/2 cup millet flour
1/2 cup rye flour
Measure all the flours into a bowl and whisk together
(slightly adapted from Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce)
1-1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup Multigrain Flour Mix
1/2cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
4 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled slightly
Place rack in the middle of the oven and preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Place the muffin tins (unbuttered) in the oven to heat up.
Measure the eggs, milk, flours, and salt into a bowl. Measure half of the melted butter (2 tablespoons) over the ingredients in the bowl.
Using a hand mixer, mix the popover batter until combined, about 20 seconds. Remove the muffin tins from the oven and brush every other cup liberally with butter. Working quickly, fill each of the buttered cups three-quarters full with batter.
Bake for 15 minutes. Then, rotate the tins and lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Bake for 8-10 minutes more, or until golden brown.
Take the tins from the oven, slide a sharp knife around the popovers to remove, and eat immediately. Turn the oven temperature back up to 450 degrees F. and repeat with the remaining batter.
Makes one dozen popovers.
Christina Masters blogs at The Rowdy Chowgirl.
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