Similar to bicycles, submarines, and light switches, popovers are a British invention. In the U.K., they are called yorkshire pudding. Though the name means “light cake”, they are not sweet. These Muffin Tin Popovers with Cheddar and Thyme are decidedly savory, and the perfect accompaniment to beef.
So what causes popovers to “pop”? It’s a high proportion of liquid in the batter. The base of the popovers is eggs, milk, and flour, which creates a thin batter. The combination of the thin batter with the heat of the oven creates steam, causing them to “pop”.
And you don’t need a special pan for these! Popover pans do exist, but I found that a regular-sized nonstick muffin tin works well. Traditionally, you would remove a beef roast from the oven and place a few teaspoons of beef drippings into each of the wells of the muffin tin. I find that this creates a slightly greasy popover. I prefer to use a nonstick cooking spray (this ensures that the batter will rise, too). Then I add butter later while I’m eating them. 🙂
Yorkshire pudding, or popovers, are typically eaten along with beef. In my case, I served them with Herb Roasted Prime Rib and gravy. I knew an Englishman who would drown his beef and popovers with gravy. Then each forkful would have a little bit of meat, a little popover, and a lot of gravy. I prefer salted butter with my warm-from-the-oven popovers. I’m not a fan of mixing food, so I happily ate them alongside prime rib.
Plain Muffin Tin Popovers are the most popular variation, but I wanted a hint of flavor in mine. I added shredded aged cheddar and chopped fresh thyme. The flavors pair really nicely with the somewhat flavorless batter.
I served these Muffin Tin Popovers with Cheddar and Thyme as part of my Christmas dinner with Kelley of Haviland Events. I prepared the food, and Kelley created the beautiful tablescape. Her friend Liz of EJD Design created the beautiful placemats. They double as placecards—check out the name in the corner!
The following dishes rounded out our Christmas dinner:
Herb Roasted Prime Rib
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta and Hazelnuts
Boozy Caramel Eggnog Pie
Muffin Tin Popovers with Cheddar & Thyme
Yield 12 popovers
- 1½ cups flour
- 1½ cups milk
- 3 large eggs
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup finely shredded aged cheddar
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- Preheat oven to 425°F. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, milk, eggs, salt, cheddar, thyme, and melted butter just until combined. Do not overmix.
- Spray a 12-cup muffin tin with cooking spray. Divide batter evenly among all 12 muffin cups, filling each about ¾ of the way to the top.
- Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 350°F and cook until golden, about another 8–10 minutes. Do not open the oven door while they bake—the popovers may deflate.
- Insert the tip of a knife into the top of each popover to release the steam and prevent them from getting soggy. Serve immediately, or reheat in a 400°F oven for a few minutes before serving.
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