Provolone Popovers

Week Forty-Nine: Breads With Cheese

[insert picture here!  with your imagination!]

Oh, my goodness.  I knew this would happen.  I’ve been juggling so many different bready things these last few weeks, between developing and baking a new recipe each day, photographing each one, writing about each one, and with no sensible order to it all, that I’m surprised it hasn’t happened sooner.

Yes, I’ve forgotten to photograph this bread.

*bangs forehead*

But can you imagine a popover?  Like this one, or this one?  Then you have a pretty good idea of what these look like.  The only difference is that these turned out a bit darker on the outside, due to the browning abilities of the cheese added to the batter.  Got that mental image?  Right then, on we go.

Originally, this recipe called for the batter to be baked in mini muffin tins.  And after trying them in a standard 1/2 cup size muffin tin (aka: the only muffin tin I have), I agree.  These weren’t the greatest popovers ever made, because of the cheese.

See, popovers are leavened with steam alone, meaning that the large percentage of liquid in the very wet batter turns to steam, which inflates the starches (as they set in the oven’s heat) like a balloon.  When you add anything to the batter (such as cheese), it weighs the batter down a bit, so the popovers won’t get quite as inflated as they would without the extra ingredient.

Ergo, if the steam leavening the batter doesn’t have to lift very much batter (as it wouldn’t in smaller portions, like in a mini muffin tin), then the popovers will be lighter and fluffier.  Since I baked them in larger portions, the steam, however powerful it might be, just couldn’t leaven the poor things as much as possible.  So, Gentle Reader, you may want to use your mini muffin tin for this recipe.  Assuming, of course, you have one.

Other than the less-than-ideal leavening, these popovers were quite good.  The flavor was rich and deep, and the texture appropriately crisp-crusted and tender inside.  The interior was perhaps a bit too moist for perfection, due again to the cheese, but not unpleasantly so.  Overall, this is a good popover recipe, if you must have cheese.  For me, I’ll take the airier plain popovers, thank you very much.

Provolone Popovers
Adapted from Bon Appétit
Makes 6 to 10 popovers

1 cup milk
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, divided
4 1/2 ounces (1 cup) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
2 ounces (about 1/3 cup) finely chopped provolone
1 ounce (about 2 tablespoons) grated Parmesan
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives (or 2 teaspoons dried)

1.  Whisk together milk, eggs, 1 tablespoon butter, flour, salt, and pepper until smooth.  Add cheeses and chives, and whisk to combine.  Cover tightly, and chill 1 hour to allow the batter to rest.

2.  Preheat the oven to 425°F with a rack in upper third.  Grease 10 cups of a standard muffin tin, or 6 cups of a popover pan, with the remaining 1 tablespoon butter.

3.  Gently stir batter, then divide evenly among the prepared tins (they should be about two-thirds full).  Bake at 425º F until puffed and well browned, 35 to 40 minutes.  Remove from oven, and quickly cut a small slit in the side of each popover.  Return to the oven for 5 minutes.  Remove from the tins and serve immediately.

Notes:
1.  Batter can be made 1 day ahead and chilled.

2.  Popovers may be baked and cooled on a wire rack, then frozen for up to 3 weeks.  Reheat unthawed in a 350º F oven until heated through, about 5 minutes.

3.  Maybe you should try this in a mini muffin tin.  In this case, you should get around 24, and bake them for only 18 to 20 minutes.

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