Wake and Bake

Breakfast snacks for those who get peckish first thing in the morning.

Wake and Bake: Popovers

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[Photograph: Carrie Vasios]

I believe my friends would have done well in Roman times, when lounging and theorizing were the popular activities of the day. They will happily argue over any topic, from when it's appropriate to use the word "delightful," to the length to which a girl's shirt should fall over her rear if she is sporting leggings as pants. The fun isn't in the answer, it's in the discourse, and the truth is that most of the arguments end with no one persuaded to take the other side. (3/4 backside coverage, please.)

One of my favorite long-standing arguments is that of popovers versus Yorkshire pudding. This discussion first happened (loudly) at a restaurant, when they appeared at our table as part of a pretty stellar bread basket. One friend claimed that popovers are simply "individually portioned Yorkshire pudding" which prompted someone else to counter that no, the two are the exact same thing. Most people had never heard of Yorkshire pudding, which led them to believe that the two baked goods must be completely different. Personally my mouth was too full doing a taste-test to chime in.

The internet leans towards the similar-yet-different answer. Mark Bittman pinpoints beef drippings as the difference (Yorkshire pudding uses them for flavoring) while Wikipedia explains that the difference is geographical (popovers are an American twist on Yorkshire pudding.)

Because I don't have a definitive answer, I'll say this: I love popovers, and if popovers are Yorkshire pudding, then I love Yorkshire pudding too. But who doesn't? These are dinner rolls times ten. They're airy, eggy, and buttery. The golden outside crust pulls away to reveal a slightly custardy interior. Like muffins, they have a distinct top and bottom, which makes them fun to eat. The flavor is much more complex than plain bread: it's a little salty and more than a little buttery. They're also insanely simple to make. I promise that buying the popover pan is the hardest part of the whole endeavor.

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About the author: Carrie Vasios is the editor of Serious Eats: Sweets. She likes to peruse her large collection of cookbooks while eating jam from the jar. You can follow her on Twitter @carrievasios

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