popovers

For the five Augusts in 2008–2012, Adri­enne is direct­ing a course at the Woods Hole Marine Bio­log­i­cal Lab (MBL) called Meth­ods in Com­pu­ta­tion­al Neu­ro­science.  We met at this course when Bill Bialek was direct­ing it, in 1998.  So the lit­tle ham­let of Woods Hole, Mass­a­chus­setts has some his­to­ry for us.  It’s on the elbow of Cape Cod, where the you catch the fer­ries to Martha’s Vine­yard.  There’s more or less one street, although sur­pris­ing­ly for the East Coast, there are two cof­feeshops on it where it’s pos­si­ble to get a prop­er cap­puc­ci­no: Cof­fee Obses­sion and Pie in the Sky.

There’s a good rea­son to favor Pie in the Sky: the popovers.  (Yes, Pie in the Sky gets one of the two cita­tions on the Wikipedia page for popovers.  No, I did­n’t put it there.)  A cap and a popover are real­ly a pret­ty per­fect break­fast.  They’re like brioche, but bet­ter– fra­grant, eggy, and full of voids over a wide range of length­scales (like the rest of the uni­verse).  OK, this does­n’t get across how deli­cious they are.

So we tried fig­ur­ing out how to make popovers when we got back to Seat­tle.  We bought fan­cy popover pans from one of those over-the-top kitchen stores, and fol­lowed a rea­son­able-look­ing recipe.  The result was just OK.  So I wrote to Erik Gura, pro­pri­etor of Pie in the Sky, offer­ing him an oath of secre­cy if he’d share the recipe.  He was very gra­cious, not only deliv­er­ing the goods, but tran­scend­ing style with the beau­ti­ful phrase “I believe knowl­edge is to be shared”.  So with heart­felt thanks to Erik, we relaunch his email into the webs:

Here is my recipe, it’s very straight­for­ward, the bat­ter should be the vis­cos­i­ty of heavy cream.

POPOVERS

  • 8 EGGS
  • 1 QUART BREAD FLOUR
  • 1 QUART MILK
  • ½ CUP SUGAR
  • ½ CUP OIL
  • ½ TBSP SALT

MIX ALL INGREDIENTS TOGETHER IN A BUCKET WITH A WHISK FOR ABOUT 2 MINUTES. IF TIME ALLOWS, LET WARM TO ROOM TEMPERATURE BEFORE BAKING. BE SURE TO PREHEAT TINS IN 350 DEGREE OVEN AND SPRAY WELL WITH CLARIFIED BUTTER BEFORE FILLING CUPS TO THE VERY RIM WITH BATTER. BAKE ABOUT 40 – 50 MINUTES @ 350, OR UNTIL BROWNED ALL OVER. Don’t take out too soon or they’ll fall!, even in my big com­mer­cial ovens, they still take about 45 min­utes.

Gura’s recipe has to be appre­ci­at­ed for its mus­cu­lar details, like “mix all ingre­di­ents togeth­er in a buck­et”.  Gonzo bread­mak­ing aside, a buck­et real­ly is the per­fect size and shape to whisk these quan­ti­ties togeth­er with­out mak­ing a mess.

Makes bat­ter for a dozen popovers.  Cau­tion: leave lots of room in the oven above the pan.

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1 Response to popovers

  1. anonymous says:

    Thanks so much for post­ing this! Did a google search for Pie in the Sky popover recipe, found your post, and just made a test batch in prepa­ra­tion for a brunch with friends tomorrow.....yum! I’m a grad stu­dent at WHOI, and while I fre­quent Pie a good deal, my popover addic­tion gets a bit pricey when I feed it reg­u­lar­ly. Now I can do it from my own kitchen!

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