My Favorite Food Memory – Popovers
We all have some special memory that stays with us all our life. Especially when it comes to food. The smells and tastes of our childhood seem to be embedded deep within our hippocampus.
For me, I have a strong memory of popovers on a Sunday evening. Also known as Yorkshire Pudding, these golden nuggets of fried bread are buttery heaven. Recently I saw a recipe that called itself Yorkshire pudding but it wasn’t. They confused the American word for pudding with the British reality of Yorkshire pudding – it was not the same crispy airy buttery goodness.
The recipe first appeared in 1773. That seems so hard to believe. I have always had the sense that these gems had been around since ancient times maybe they were but never written done. The recipe appeared in a book called The Whole Duty of a Woman. It was called Dripping Pudding. I can’t think of a more appropriate name. The Brits usually have Yorkshire pudding with their Sunday Roasts. The drippings from the roast are used to “fry” the batter. Although the puddings are put in the oven to “bake” you are frying the batter in the drippings or oil or butter you have melted in each biscuit tins. The batter fries and puffs in this shortening in each tin. The original recipe called for you to place the batter in a pan and place it under the spit used for roasting your mutton to let the drippings drop into the batter. Hmm sounds interesting.
By 1747, it had become one of Britain’s favorite dishes.
The recipe is very simple. Flour, eggs, milk, and salt. That’s it. Everything you might have in your pantry. If not you can buy Yorkshire Pudding Mixes these days. It remains a staple of the British Sunday Roast to this day.
A couple of years ago I started eating less gluten. I wanted to see if I could create this youthful memory with Gluten-free flour. So one Sunday afternoon, I got out my biscuit tins and gluten-free King Arthur flour, milk, eggs, salt, and butter. When my Mom made these, she would use Crisco. I only had butter on hand so I thought I would try with the butter instead of the shortening.
Every recipe I found said that the gluten-free flour would not “popover” as much as wheat flour. The King Arthor Gluten-free flour is made from a mix of flours and I added xanthan gum to add a little rise to the gluten-free flour.
The results were very tasty. I must say. Just like I remembered them. By using the butter they ended up a little buttery but who am I to complain about too much butter. If you want to do this recipe more traditionally use a good shortening or try the drippings from your roast. I think I remember my mom using Crisco with a dash of the roast drippings in each tin.
The big thing is to add a bit of shortening and /or drippings in each tin and place the tray into the oven to have it melt and get nice and hot. You then pour a bit of the batter in each tin and place in a very hot oven. The outside of the popover begins to fry in the oil while the inside becomes airy and light and buttery. As they cook they start to pop over the tins. Any dripped batter makes tasty nuggets of crispy fried bread bits. Yum.
My experiment with the gluten-free flour went well. Yes, they did not rise as high but the taste was perfect. And my error using only butter was probably not right – but come on how can anyone say anything about too much butter? At least I didn’t need to adding butter when I ate them.
They are an easy recipe that can be created without a lot of baking finesse. I am NOT a great baker so I know you could do just as well.
Share your best food memory with us.
Here is the recipe I used
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