My sister just sent me a great book called Ratio, by Michael Ruhlman. The premise of the book is that cooking is not about knowing thousands of recipes but rather about learning the proportions of one ingredient to another. If you take flour, fat, milk and eggs and mix different combinations of these ingredients they will yield an entirely different result. In one case you will end up with muffins, mix the same ingredients in different proportions, end up with a pancake, add more eggs, and end up with a crepe.
I started with the cookie dough chapter. The ratios were broken down so easily even my kids could follow them. I learned that adding lots of butter would give you a crisp flat cookie. If you change the ratio to 1/2 of the butter then your cookie, although just as tasty, will instead end up as a lumpy mound. Now I am sure anyone who bakes on a regular basis would know this simple fact but to me it was news.
Next, I tackled the popover. They were so simple to do and one of the most fun things we have ever made. The boys went nuts when they poofed! in the oven. There is a restaurant on the Upper West Side that specializes in popovers and I used to wait in line for them – but now I can just make these at home!
A few weeks after baking popovers we took the boys on a pilgrimage to Popovers Café. I wanted to see if they were as good as I recalled. Funny how your memory works… The popovers were as big as I remembered (the size of Liam’s head) but they were slightly burnt. Amazingly, my little popovers, made in a makeshift popover tin, were just as good, if not better. Would I wait in line for them? Probably not, but luckily I don’t have to anymore.
8 ounces millk
4 ounces eggs (2 large eggs)
4 ounces flour (a scant cup)
1 tsp salt to taste
2 ounces butter (1/2 stick) melted
Note: If you don’t have popover pans – ramekins or muffin tins work as well.
Place your popover pan or muffin tin in oven and preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Combine the milk and eggs in a bowl and whisk until combined. Add the flour and salt and stir until combined. Allow the batter to sit for a minimum of a half hour.
Remove the pan from the oven and pour about a teaspoon of butter into the bottom of each cup. The pan should be so hot that the butter will sizzle. Then fill each cup with batter and bake for 10 minutes.
After 10 minutes, reduce the oven to 375 degrees and continue baking until done, about 20-30 minutes depending on the size of your pan. I used a mini muffin tin so I kept them in for 20 minutes since they were small.
Note: No matter how much you want to look in the oven to check on the popovers – don’t! It is tempting but if you do open the oven they will deflate – trust me on this.
Remove from pan and serve immediately with butter or jam.
And the VERDICT is:
Matthew (age 6): “These smell kind of funny”
Dylan (age 4): “Are you sure you didn’t peek???”
Liam (age 4): “Oh, these are so yummy!”
Although not all our popovers looked as pretty as the one in the above picture they all tasted great!