Tag Archives: bread recipe

out of the oven

Martha Stewart’s Popover Fail

Perhaps it’s been too long since I’ve eaten a popover – a light and crispy eggy bread – but I couldn’t remember how it was supposed to turn out, as I set out to bake Martha Stewart’s recipe.

Some preliminary thoughts:

  1. I don’t have a specific popover tin, which Martha highly recommends, seeing as the tin is designed such that each cup is taller than it is wide to help with the vertical rise of the batter. Subsequent research shows that you can make popovers in any container really.
  2. The popovers are best served immediately out of the oven as they will start to deflate as soon as they are out.
  3. They rise from the interior steam, since the batter is so soupy – leaving a hollow middle and flakey exterior.
  4. Popovers are called Yorkshire Pudding in Britain and usually eaten with a roast or meat and gravy. I made mine for breakfast, but I think they would have been better suited to a meat dish.
  5. Martha Stewart’s recipe calls for powdered sugar, since I guess in the US it’s more typical to have a sweeter version than in Britain. Frankly I couldn’t taste any sweetness in my outcome, and further investigation shows many many recipes that don’t have any sugar…and so if it’s not actually sweet, why bother adding the extra sugar calories? Skip the sugar.

I easily made the batter since it’s very few ingredients: mostly eggs, milk and a bit of flour.

popover batter
popover batter – very liquidy

I tested three different vessels: 1. a mini muffin tin, 2. a larger ramekin (small dish) that I typically use for souffles or chocolate lava cake, and 3. a coffee mug.

all the vessels
all the vessels

Let’s start with the most obvious fail: the coffee mug. Remembering that there are all these “mug microwave brownie” recipes floating around, I thought, maybe I can make the popover in the microwave too!

Well just no.

up and up and over
up and up and over in the microwave

The whole thing rose sky high – almost straight out of the mug! But there was no way that it was going to crisp the outside (duh) and the end result was basically a rubbery omelette.

Now let’s move to the not-so-obvious fail: the mini muffin tin. There is a photo in Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook of the final popovers’ exteriors, but no interior shots. So I thought the insides were supposed to be dry and bread-like, perhaps more like a brioche.

I used 1+ tablespoons of batter in each mini muffin cup, and they rose beautifully. When the tops were golden brown, I took them out of the oven and bit into one. It seemed underdone to me. A definite egg flavor, and even though there was the desired hollowness to the center, I wasn’t quite sure if the whole thing was “correct.”

See how eggy they look even here? Like little omelettes!

So I popped them out of the tin and threw them back into the oven on a baking sheet.

Well, if it wasn’t a fail before, it was a definite misstep at this point. The outsides burned and the insides didn’t seem any more cooked through.

Further research leads me to believe that indeed the insides are supposed to be kind of wet-looking. Maybe it was an unexpected success and I just don’t LIKE popovers? Could be. I have a friend-date to go to an NYC restaurant whose popovers she loves – some hands-on research will ensue and I’ll keep you posted!

And then there was the large popover in the ramekin made with 10 tablespoons of batter – double the suggested amount from Martha. I let it bake 40 minutes – 10 minutes past the normal cook time – just to be sure.

ramekin popover out of the oven
ramekin popover out of the oven – note the burnt minis beside it

The outside looked awesome – toasted and with an odd shape, just like many of the photos in the cookbook and on the internet. The inside was hollow and the dough seemed to be moist but a bit more cooked through, which I appreciated. The downside to this vessel was the fact that the sides and bottom COMPLETELY stuck, even with a liberal butter coating. Hmmmmmm….I’ll have to dig a little deeper here to see what I can do to remedy that. Any thoughts?

I can easily try this out again with some tweaks, given the quick and simple nature of the recipe and ingredients. In the mini-muffin tin, I would probably look to bake them initially a hair longer (maybe 15 minutes instead of 11) to try to dry out the insides a touch. I could also see myself making big ones in ramekins at dinnertime to be served with a roast….once I get a handle on the sticky bottoms.

Popovers to be revisited. Suggestions welcome!

 

final "bread"

Martha Stewart Cinnamon Raisin Bread Fail

I’ve never really tried to make bread before. Sure there were childhood forays with the electric bread maker craze (which churns out deliciouuuuuuus bread that we consumed within minutes after waiting hours upon hours for it to cook), and quick breads like banana bread, pumpkin bread, scones and the like.

But I’ve never made yeast breads (except I guess pizza dough which is super easy).

To start this adventure, I chose the Martha Stewart recipe for cinnamon raisin bread, mainly because it called for all-purpose flour and not bread flour (which I need to purchase but haven’t yet) and because I had all the other ingredients on hand.

Suffice it to say, I don’t know what happened, but it didn’t work out. I kind of knew it wasn’t going to turn out well when the dough barely rose, but I kept going anyway.

Here are some of the ways in which I may have failed:

1. I used the Rapid Rise Yeast which I use for pizza dough. This type of yeast is typically added to the dry ingredients, as opposed to active dry yeast which is typically added to the warm wet ingredients (and bubbles up before everything else is added). The recipe called for active dry yeast, but I didn’t have any of that at home. Following the instructions (but subbing the rapid rise yeast instead), I added the yeast to the wet ingredients. So maybe the bread didn’t work because I used the wrong type of yeast.

But this is a head scratcher because on the yeast company’s website it does say you can make this substitution; you just can’t substitute the opposite way (active dry yeast in place of rapid rise). Hmmmm….

Also when I added the yeast, I did get that bready smell right away, which I took as a good sign.

Maybe I killed the yeast? Maybe it was old? I didn’t take the temperature of my warm milk (as instructed) before I added the yeast….so maybe it was too hot?

2. I used stale raisins. I don’t see why this should matter but the little buggers were like sticky pebbles.

rolled bread dough sprinkled with cinnamon and raisins
rolled bread dough sprinkled with cinnamon and raisins

3. I let the bread rise twice as called for in the recipe: the first time for an hour and the second time for 40 minutes or so after shaping the loaf. Perhaps I didn’t put it in a warm enough place? I just left it covered on the counter.

bread dough rising
bread dough rising

4. My “filling” wasn’t quite right. Once the cinnamon raisin dough has risen, you were supposed to roll out the dough and “sprinkle” the filling over top. I don’t really see how sprinkle was the correct word though since you were to mix cinnamon and sugar with water. Mine was more of a paste. And so that egg wash to help it stick was probably unnecessary.And so the interior of the dough was really really wet and soggy. See my photo versus the pic in the cookbook.

All these minor errors probably added up to the undercooked and unrisen center. I mean, it still tasted yummy what with the oozy cinnamon sugar core. It was kind of like a cinnamon roll and some icing would have been appreciated. But it was not bread. Le sigh. I will try again one of these days. Maybe with the correct (and newly purchased) yeast.

final "bread"
final “bread”