Do you know what a popover is? Tell me. Mmm hmm. Oh really?
Okay, so maybe you're right. But maybe you, like me before baking today's recipe, had only some sort of vague idea what a popover was, just knowing it was something doughy and yummy. Which is, of course, correct. But there's more to it than that as I learned while trying to figure out a recipe.
A popover is an eggy batter baked up until it puffs and "pops" up over the top of the baking dish. Popovers can be made in their own little popover tins, or in a muffin pan. The finished popover should have a nice crusty exterior and a just barely doughy interior (think the texture of the inside of a french cruller donut).
Anyhow, cherries are in season both here and in Azerbaijan. My friend there told me they're big and pretty and so I had to figure out something to make with them. Cherry popovers came to mind, I don't know why. And that is why I had to go figure out exactly what a popover was and how to make them. I was happy with the results and hopefully you will be, too.
Adapted from Maida Heatter's famous 1966 recipe
Makes 12 small popovers (in a muffin tin, probably more like 8 if you use a popover tin)
1 heaping cup of cherries, pitted and halved (about 24 cherries or 1/3 lb)
3 teaspoons sugar, divided
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted (plus more butter for greasing the pan)
1 cup flour, sifted
1/2 teaspoon salt
dash of cinnamon
In a small bowl, mix cherries and 1 teaspoon sugar. Set aside.
Grease bottom and sides of muffin cups.
Beat the eggs. Add in the milk and melted butter.
In a small bowl, blend together flour, salt, remaining sugar, and cinnamon. Stir the flour mixture into the egg mixture a small amount at a time. Beat until just barely smooth.
Divide the cherries among the muffin cups. Pour the batter over the cherries, ensuring there is an equal amount in each muffin cup.
Bake for about 50 minutes. Try not to open the oven during that time to retain heat/steam. Popovers should have risen and the outsides should be somewhat dry. Remove from oven and use a knife to cut a few small slits in the top each popover.
Return to oven and bake for an additional 5 minutes. Cool and serve.
Verdict? It was quite a surprise when I took these out of the oven. They did actually puff up big and tall like they were supposed to, despite the fact that I have to keep opening my oven to make sure the temperature hasn't suddenly skyrocketed as my picky oven likes to do. I know those of you in Azerbaijan don't have the most user-friendly ovens. Just do as I did and keep a close eye on the popovers - watch for them browning and remove them from the oven when they've puffed and the outsides look crisp, don't worry about the inside.