What we call cream muffins in the Lowcountry are really popovers. These airy foils for butter and jam are also called Yorkshire pudding. In York, in northern England, they appear at the breakfast table as well as being the classic accompaniment to roast beef. I am always surprised to hear British cooking maligned by Americans; so many of our best dishes, especially in the South, are absolutely English.

Serve these marvelous breads with lots of butter and homemade preserves and big cups of café au lait to begin a lazy Sunday breakfast. You will need to make the batter at least an hour in advance of baking. I like to make it the night before, tuck it into the refrigerator, then surprise my friends the next morning with hot cream muffins.

Popovers are very easy to make. I have made this recipe with as few as 3 and as many as 6 eggs, in both preheated and cold baking pans. However, to prevent the popovers from falling, you must not open the oven door during the first 20 minutes of baking—and little thereafter. There are several popover pans on the market, but I bake them in well-greased heavy porcelain custard cups.

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Ingredients

  • 2 cups sifted unbleached (all-purpose) flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus butter for greasing the cups

Method

Mix the flour and salt in a bowl. Beat the eggs lightly. Mix the milk and butter together, then pour the mixture into the eggs and stir well. Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry, stirring constantly. Do not overbeat. Cover the batter and allow to rest for at least an hour. If you refrigerate it overnight, be sure to allow it to warm up for a while before you begin baking.

When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 400°. Grease a dozen 3-ounce ovenproof custard cups. If the batter is lumpy, strain it. I pour it into a pitcher, then pour the batter into the greased cups, filling them no fuller than ½ inch from the tops. Set the cups on a baking sheet and bake for about 40 minutes. This recipe makes cream muffins that are moist on the inside and crispy brown on the dome. For a drier popover, bake them at a lower temperature (350°-375°), prick them with a knife after 50 minutes, and let them bake for another 5 minutes. Turn out of the cups and serve immediately.

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