Friday, March 20, 2015

Scottish Border Tart, Take Two

On an early post, I tried the Scottish Border Tart but neglected to include the eggs in the filling.  They were listed in the ingredients but did not show up in the instructions.  So I tried the recipe again, this time adding the eggs at the bold text.
To make the filling beat the sugar and butter together until the mixture becomes creamy.  Beat in the eggs. Add the sifted flour and ground almonds. Spread a layer of jam over the bottom of the pastry and then add the filling.  Arrange a lattice design of pastry strips on top.  Cover with the flaked almonds.  Bake in moderate oven (350 degrees F) for 30 minutes.  15 minutes before the tart is cooked remove from oven and sprinkle over a layer of confectioner's sugar.  Return to oven. 
I used the same pan so everything was the same except for the eggs.

The first thing I noticed is that the filling spread like a batter instead of like a crumble.


Then the almonds on top sank into the filling more.


The finished tart looked softer and showed off the powdered (confectioner's) sugar better.


And the individual pieces looked and tasted fluffier than the first attempt.

Take Two:  Fluffy
Take One:  Crunchy
The Verdict

It tasted great!  The softer texture was nice and more like a coffee cake than a shortbread.

I liked it and so did my coworkers.  Success!

In comparison, they were both good.  However I and my guest taster enjoyed the first version the most because we liked the shortbread crunch along with the almonds.  My recommendation:  fix whichever one appeals to you the most.  Crunchy or soft -- your choice.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

An Elizabethan Meat Pie for Super Pi Day

March 14 is recognized as Pi Day in the United States -- mostly by schools who want their students to think about the irrational number π.   March 14 of this year was special, a Super Pi Day, because it is the only day in the century where you can write out the date and time to get π to nine decimal places:
3.141592653...  gets written as 3/14/15 9:26:53.  Super!

So in honor of Super Pi Day, I made a super pie:  an Elizabethan deep dish chicken pie.  Not only does the size make it super but the ingredients are not what we usually expect in a chicken pie.  You cannot find any onions, carrots, potatoes, peas, or even mushrooms in it.  Also the spices are different from the typical modern chicken pie.

My source was Gervase Markham's The English Housewife, originally published in 1596.  The author wrote it for his young wife to instruct her on "the inward and outward virtues which ought to be in a complete woman..."

ISBN 0-7735-1103-2
It is a fascinating look into the culture of an Elizabethan England household because the nine chapters cover a wide variety of topics:  physic (medicine) and surgery, cooking, distillation, wines, preparing fibers for dying and spinning, making cheese and butter, making malt, using oats, and brewing and baking.

On page 100, recipe #116 tells us how "To bake a chicken pie."
To bake a chicken pie; after you have trussed your chickens, broken their legs and breast bones, and raised your crust of the best paste, you shall lay them in the coffin close together with their bodies full of butter.  Then lay upon them, and underneath them, currants, great raisins, prunes, cinnamon, sugar, whole mace, and salt: then cover all with a great store of butter, and so bake it; after, pour into it the liquor you did in your marrow bone pie, with the yolks of two or three eggs beaten amongst it, and so serve it forth.
I needed to explore the details of this recipe a little.  What is the "crust of the best paste"?

On page 96, recipe #108, "Of the pastry and baked meats", he says,
...your chickens, calves' feet, olives, potatoes, quinces, fallow deer, and such like, which are most commonly eaten hot, would be in the finest, shortest and thinnest crust; therefore your fine wheat flour which is a little baked in the oven before it be kneaded is the best for that purpose.

And in recipe #109, "Of the mixture of pastes",
...your fine wheat crust must be kneaded with as much butter as water, and the paste made reasonable lithe and gentle, into which you must put three or four eggs or more according to the quantity you blend together, for they will give it a sufficient stiffening.
My next quest was to note the "the liquor you did in your marrow bone pie," which is in recipe #115:
... and after it is baked pour into it as long as it will receive it white wine, rose-water, sugar, cinnamon, and vinegar, mixed together, ...
My Redaction

From all of this I decided a regular pie crust would do.  I decided not to use eggs in it because I was baking it in a deep dish ceramic pie pan instead of having the pie stand up on its own.  It did not need "sufficient stiffening."  I used a recipe from The Great Food Processor Cookbook, by Yvonne Young Tarr  (ISBN 394-73284-7).

Pie Pastry (page 357)

(Yield:  Enough pastry for 1 double-crust pie)

11 to 12 Tablespoons cold butter (1 1/2 sticks) and 2 tablespoons cold shortening (or, for a tart pastry that is less rich, 7 tablespoons each cold shortening and butter)
2 1/2 Cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 Teaspoons salt
8 Tablespoons ice water

Arrange cold butter and/or shortening by tablespoons around bottom of container.  Combine flour and salt and sift together over shortening.

Turn machine quickly on and off 3 or 4 times or until the mixture resembles coarse meal.

Add as much ice water as necessary, 2 tablespoons at a time, until the dough forms a ball.  Chill for at least 15 minutes before rolling out.

I didn't take any pictures of the pastry being made since my focus was on the filling.  I used 8 tablespoons of butter (one stick) and 6 tablespoons shortening.  Both had been in the freezer.

Filling (before baking)

3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 cup raisins
16 ounces prunes
<currants are unavailable in the stores at this time>
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground mace
1 teaspoon salt
4 ounces (1 stick) butter, cold


Mix the sugar, spices, and salt together in a small bowl.  Sprinkle a generous amount on the pie crust and then put about 1/3 of the raisins and prunes on top of that.

First layer of fruits and spices is complete
Put in a layer of thighs, setting them close together.  Sprinkle more of the sugar/spice mixture on top.  Put in another layer of raisins and prunes, more of the spice mixture, another layer of the thighs.  I tried to use all the thighs but they didn't all fit despite me squishing them into place.

Sprinkle on the spice mixture, add the rest of the raisins and prunes, and then add on the rest of the spice mixture.

The pie pan is stuffed full.
Cut the butter up into thin slices and scatter them all over the top of the filling.

Mmmmm.  Butter!
Roll out the top crust, cut some holes or slits to let out the steam, and fit it to the top.

There was enough dough left over to make decorations.
I baked the pie at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 1 hour and 15 minutes, until the crust was browned and the kitchen smelled lovely.

Oh. My.
In the last few minutes of the pie baking, I made the liquor to pour into the pie.

Liquor (after baking)

1/2 cup white wine
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon rose water
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 egg yolks, beaten


I mixed everything but the yolks and tasted it.  It had a slightly rosy scent, with the vinegar and sugar balanced well to shift the white wine flavor to a bit more piquant.  Satisfied with the flavor, I mixed in the two egg yolks.

Once the pie was out of the oven, I carefully poured the liquor into the slits in the top crust.  I made sure to pour some in each slit.  I knew the pie had received as much as it could take when some of the liquor came out of the crust on the sides.  The hot temperature of the filling appeared to cook the egg yolk.

Some of the liquid missed the holes.
I let the pie cool for awhile before tasting it.

The Verdict

I am pretty new to redacting recipes myself.  So when I was preparing everything, I worried:  I worried that it would be too sweet.  And that the spices would be too strong.  And that the liquor would taste weak or strong.  That I added too much rose water (yes, I love the stuff but not everyone is accustomed to its floral taste).  That the chicken wouldn't be cooked all the way through.  That it would be too greasy from all the butter.

I should not have worried!

The pie was excellent.  Fruity and spicy without being sweet or dessert-like.  The chicken was cooked beautifully.  The filling was not dry and not greasy.  The rose water added a very subtle scent to the meat and fruit without being overwhelming.

The crust was one of the best I have ever made.  Not as rich as a dessert pie but still flavorful and flaky.

I had several guest tasters.  Some had it hot and some ate it cold.  The general consensus was that it was very good; several wanted the recipe and all found it intriguingly different from what we usually think of when we consider chicken pie.


Many noticed the layers and were interested at the effect they had.

I was very pleased I used boneless, skinless thighs.  I was able to press them down into the pan and fit nearly the entire three pounds.  The half cup plus a little of the liquor was just right, too.  The filling soaked up most of it right away.  The rest was absorbed after some time in the refrigerator.

I would call this a resounding success!  I would make it again, too, just as it is described here.




Sunday, March 1, 2015

Scottish Border Tart

A number of years ago I visited the quaint town of Solvang, California and, in the shop "Tartan-n-Things", I purchased a book titled Scottish Fare.  It is charming because it is filled with recipes with their Scottish names (like "Roastit Bubbly-Jock" and "Cullen Skink") along with some history, culture, and interesting facts about Scotland.

Published in 1983 by Norma and Gordon Latimer
I was in a dessert mood and the description of the Border Tart looked very appealing.

Border Tart  (page 62)

For the pastry:
1 cup plain flour
2 1/2 ounces butter
1 ounce sugar
1 egg yolk

For the filling:
2 ounces butter
2 ounces sugar
2 ounces self-rising flour
2 eggs
2 tablespoons raspberry jam
1/2 ounce flaked almonds
1 ounce ground almonds

(Note that the measurements are mostly by weight so get out your kitchen scale!)

I love my ceramic salt cellar!
Make up the pastry and roll out on floured board to line an 8 inch flan ring.  Keep the scraps and roll out to make strips for the lattice design on top of the tart.

To make the filling beat the sugar and butter together until the mixture becomes creamy.  Add the sifted flour and ground almonds. ** (See notes below.)  Spread a layer of jam over the bottom of the pastry and then add the filling.  Arrange a lattice design of pastry strips on top.  Cover with the flaked almonds.  Bake in moderate oven (350 degrees F) for 30 minutes.  15 minutes before the tart is cooked remove from oven and sprinkle over a layer of confectioner's sugar.  Return to oven.  Serve with fresh cream.

My Notes

**The recipe does not specify when to add the eggs to the filling.  I didn't notice this until after the tart was in the oven!  I would add them with the flour and almonds.

For the pastry, I mixed the flour and sugar, cut in the cold butter until the mixture looked crumbly, then added in the egg yolk.  Then I let the dough sit covered in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes to give the flour a chance to absorb the moisture.  It rolled out well.


It took three heaping tablespoons of raspberry jam to make an acceptable layer on the pastry.

Instead of self-rising flour, I mixed 3/4 teaspoon baking powder with 1/4 teaspoon salt then added enough all-purpose flour to make the mix weigh 2 ounces.   Then I blended it all together well.

Does this filling look dry to you?
My pan was a 7 inches by 10 inches rectangle and so it took the entire batch of pastry to cover it. That meant no lattice design on it, so I added extra flaked (actually toasted and slivered) almonds and it looked great.

Pretty!
I wasn't sure how thick a layer of confectioner's sugar to make so I kept it thin.

I took the pan out of the oven after 25 minutes of cooking as the crust was getting very brown.  I think I should have reduced the temperature to 325 degrees F since my pan was dark.

Still looks pretty.
The Verdict

I let the tart cool completely before tasting it.  I was concerned that the filling would be awful since it didn't have the eggs and it did look pretty dry when I spread it on top of the jam.  However I held out hope it would still taste good because the filling without eggs is very similar to a shortbread.

And yes, it did taste good!  It was a bit dry so I should have pulled it out of the oven sooner or baked it at a lower temperature.  But the flavor was lovely -- crunchy and nutty and not too sweet.  The raspberry jam was an excellent tart counterpoint to the more subtle crust and filling.

A very closeup cut-away view
Overall it was thin and that was just right.  My guest taster thought it especially tasty with a cup of coffee and I liked it with cold milk.  We did not put any cream on it.

So despite the lack of eggs in the filling, it was a success!

I would like to try it again with the eggs in the filling, just to see how much more they contribute to it.  I'll save that for the next post.



Sunday, February 15, 2015

Minutal Ex Praecoquis -- Ham and Apricot Ragout

I recently acquired The Roman Cookery of Apicius by John Edwards.  I already have some other cookbooks on the Roman Empire era but this one seemed more substantial and possibly more accessible for modern cooks.
ISBN 0-88179-008-7
What I like best about it is that it offers a translated version of ten of the books (chapters) of Apicius' work along with a modern adaptation for most of the recipes.  Some of the adaptations bothered me a little; for example Mr. Edwards suggests green beans, which to me is a New World bean.  I think the right substitution would be fava (broad) beans, which were used before Columbus brought back New World beans.

This book offers quite a few recipes that caught my interest, and this one fit in with what I already had in the house.

Original translation:

Minutal Ex Praecoquis

Into a cooking pot, put olive oil, stock, wine, dry chopped shallots, and a cooked leg of pork chopped into squares.  When these are cooked, grind pepper, cumin, dried mint, and aniseed [in a mortar].  [Over these seasonings] pour honey, stock, raisin wine, a little vinegar, and liquid from the ragout.  Blend.  [Cook.]  [Pour over the pork.] Add pitted apricots and heat until they are completely cooked.  [Add them to the ragout.] Break pasty into the dish to thicken it.  Sprinkle with pepper and serve.


Modern adaptation (given in two parts):

Ham and Apricot Ragout (page 93)

1 pound cooked ham, diced
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup pork stock
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup shallots, chopped


In a casserole, put ham, olive oil, stock, wine, and shallots.  Cook, covered, in the oven for 1 hour.

Tasty at this stage!
Sauce:
pinch each of whole pepper and cumin seed
1 sprig mint
pinch of aniseed
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 cup pork stock
1/4 cup sweet raisin wine or muscatel
1 teaspoon wine vinegar
1/4 cup casserole liquid
10 fresh apricots (or dried, presoaked in water)
flour
ground pepper


To make the sauce, in a mortar, grind pepper with cumin, mint, and aniseed.  Combine with honey, stock, sweet wine, vinegar, and liquid from the casserole.  Bring the sauce to a boil and add to the ragout for the last 15 minutes.

When ragout is nearly done, take the apricots, divide in half, and pit them.  Add them to the casserole and cook together for 5 minutes. Finish by thickening with flour.  Serve with a sprinkling of pepper.


My Notes

I had no pork stock so I used instant chicken broth.

The recipe did not specify the oven temperature so I decided on 275 degrees F.  It seemed like the purpose was to slowly cook the shallots and to allow the flavors to mingle.

The ham, shallots, and liquids in the casserole smelled wonderful while it was cooking!

I used dried mint as per the original recipe and guessed about how much a sprig would be when dried.

It was amazing to find out that, in my large collection of spices, I had no aniseed.  Fortunately fennel is a good substitute so I used that. (Thank you, Cook's Thesaurus!)

Try as I might I could not find muscatel or raisin wine locally, so I used moscato, a sweet, slightly sparkling white wine and just hoped it would taste right.

Apricots are not currently in season so I used 20 dried halves and soaked them while the casserole was in the oven.

After the casserole had cooked for an hour, I made the sauce and added it to the casserole.  Then I set the timer for 15 more minutes.

The dried apricots made me think I would need to cook them longer than the five minutes given for fresh ones, so I put them into the casserole in the last 5 minutes of sauce and checked them when the timer buzzed.  They did not appear very tender and, following Apicius' advice, put them in for another 30 minutes to make sure "they are completely cooked."

At the beginning of the apricot's 30 minutes, I mixed about 2 tablespoons of flour with a little of the casserole liquid until it made a smooth, thick batter.  Then I added it to the casserole to thicken the dish.

The Verdict

Success!

Very tasty -- the spices and mint blended together to make a savory sauce, the shallots were nearly melted into the sauce, the ham chunks were tender and flavorful.  The apricots were, surprisingly, a background accent.  I thought they would stand out more but they did a great job of accenting the ham and broth.

If (when!) I make it again, I would cut the apricots up into quarters just to increase the odds of getting a piece with each spoonful of ham.

My only mistake was using the instant chicken broth as it made the dish too salty for me.  My guest taster loved it as it was.  But I thoroughly enjoyed it both at dinner with a green salad, buttered sourdough bread, and red wine, and for lunch the next day with crackers.

I would make this again and plan better on the broth.  I recommend it with enthusiasm!

Yum.  Give it a try.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Aebelskivers -- Swedish Pancakes and a Kitchen Gadget!

A long time ago I had a friend named Joe K.  One neat thing about Joe was how much he admired his mother and her talents.  When he found out I liked to cook, he got me some of her favorite recipes, among which was aebelskivers, AKA Swedish pancakes.

The recipe is written in her hand and I cherish it and the others with it.  I have made them and loved them; the recipe cards are yellowed with age and stained with food splatters.

Page 1.  I think her name was Betty.
My house was filled with family and I wanted to make a fun breakfast for them all.  Then I realized my blog goal to use some interesting kitchen gadgets would be perfect for this:  to make aebelskivers, you need an aebelskiver pan.


Mine is cast iron.  I don't know how old it is; I probably got it from one of my grandparents and I recall that aebelskivers were a bit of a fad in the 1960s and 1970s, so that could be when they purchased it.

Aebelskivers are tasty like American pancakes but they are lighter and ball-shaped.  The pan allows that shape to happen.  They are good served with a dusting of powdered sugar, or syrup, or jam, and a little bit of soft butter.  A great start to a fun breakfast.

Aebelskivers
(makes 56 cakes)

6 eggs, separated
1 3/4 cup buttermilk
2 1/2 cup sifted flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking powder

Separate eggs.  Add cream of tartar to whites and best until stiff but not dry-looking.  

Sift flour (pre-measured), sugar, salt, and baking powder together.  

Beat egg yolks, buttermilk, and vanilla together.

Add liquid ingredients to flour mixture and beat until smooth.  Fold in egg whites carefully.

Heat aebelskiver pan over burner until drop of water dances on bottom of cup.  Brush cups with salad oil.  Spoon 1/2 full with batter.

Turn once, using fork and paring knife (some people use knitting needles).

When brown on both sides, remove to hold in oven at approximately 250 degrees F.  

Frequently refold batter, as whites tend to rise to top.

Batter's up!
My Notes

The directions are straight-forward and easy to follow.  That being said, it has been a long time since I made aebelskivers so I made some mistakes when cooking them:

  • I put too much oil in the cups.  Just brush them lightly.  You don't want oil puddles.
Do not do this at home.
  • I beat the egg whites too much -- they got dry-looking and that made keeping the aebelskivers in their ball shape difficult when turning them.  They kept deflating!  
Stop before this stage
or they will be too flat!
  • I had some issues getting the pan to heat evenly, which I don't recall ever happening before.  I'm not sure why.  What I did was put the aebelskiver pan over an inverted cast iron skillet so that the skillet evened out the heat.
This burned off all the seasoning on the skillet
The Verdict

Success!  Oh yes, they were tasty!  We all enjoyed them despite my blunders and I would do them again any time I had the opportunity to feed a crowd.

Just some of the batch
We did discuss what could be done if you wanted the aebelskivers but didn't have the special pan. We tried baking them in mini-muffin pans at 350 degrees F but the texture was not the same.  They were certainly edible and tasty but they weren't pancake-like.  I think they would make good quick breads, especially with a spoonful of jam in the middle.


We also tried cooking them like regular pancakes, and had good results.  The flavor and the texture were right; the only thing missing was the cute and interesting ball shape.  So this is how I would recommend cooking them if you want to give them a try but you don't have or want to buy the pan.



By the way, the other recipes in the set are Apple Pfankuchen, Pfeffernüsse, and Lebkuchen.  All quite yummy!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Historical Sourdough Part 2 -- Sourdough Tomato and Basil Bread

Last March I was given a batch of 200+ year old sourdough starter named "Melissa."

The story behind it was that an ancestor of the woman who gave it had created the starter and one of her descendants, Melissa, inherited it.  Melissa brought it with her as she walked from the East Coast of America to the West Coast with a covered wagon.  Her descendants have been using it since.

My daughter was home and we decided to play with the starter in different ways.  Not all of the recipes themselves were historical but they were very tasty.  See Historical Sourdough Part 1 for our first play time.

This time we got into my favorite bread machine cookbook, Great Bread Machine Baking by Marlene Brown.  I have had this book for years and have loved the various breads the recipes have yielded.  It has an entire chapter on sourdough.

ISBN 0-7607-1353-7

On page 131 is "Sourdough Tomato and Basil Bread:"

For a two-pound loaf.

3/4 cup warm water (80 degrees F)
1 cup sourdough starter, room temperature
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 ground black pepper
3 2/3 cups bread flour, unsifted
2 teaspoons active dry yeast or bread machine yeast
1/2 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, well drained and chopped *

* You can use dried tomatoes.  Simmer them in water for a few minutes to plump them up.  Drain well and chop.


1.  Measure all ingredients into the bread pan (except sun-dried tomatoes) according to the manufacturer's directions for your machine.  Measure sun-dried tomatoes to add at the beep or when manufacturer directs.  Set the CYCLE to sweet, LOAF SIZE to 2-pound, and CRUST SETTING to whatever you desire.

2.  After about 5 minutes of kneading, check the consistency of your dough.  If dough is not in a smooth round ball, open lid and with machine ON, add liquid a tablespoon at a time if too dry, or add flour a tablespoon at a time if too wet.

3.  Remove the bread promptly from the pan when the machine beeps or on completing the cycle.  Cool on rack before slicing.

My Notes

I use my bread machine to mix the dough and then I shape it by hand and bake it in my oven.  It is also fine to mix it by hand or use a mixer with a dough hook.  Do whatever you are comfortable with!

I used the non-oily tomatoes and I added a little bit of olive oil to the dough to make up for it.  I know, the recipe didn't call for it but I have made this once before a few years ago and noted that 1/2 teaspoon might be good.

The dough was beautiful when it came out of the machine.  I shaped it into two loaves at approximately one pound each.  Yes, I used my kitchen scale.  This doesn't happen too often with me.

After letting them rise about 45 minutes in a warm, draft-free place (the inside of my oven), I put the loaves on the counter and let them rise another 15 minutes while the oven heated to 350 degrees F.  I used that temperature because the pans were glass and they required a 25 degree F lower temperature than a metal pan.

The dough shall rise again
They baked for about 30 minutes, until thumping their tops made a hollow sound.  Also, the crust was nicely browned.  I immediately took the loaves out of the pans to cool on a rack.

The Verdict

The finished loaves were not particularly beautiful but their scent was rich with basil.  We ate one loaf completely before I remembered to take a picture.  The flavor was excellent -- the tomatoes had colored the dough and made the loaf brown inside, which was nice.  The basil was a highlight flavor and the tomatoes added a chewy element along with a light meaty taste.

Beautiful taste
A light toasting brought out the basil flavor even more.

It was good by itself, warm with a little butter, and a good sandwich base.  Success!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Historical Sourdough Part 1 -- Waffles and Popovers

Last March I was given a batch of 200+ year old sourdough starter named "Melissa."

The story behind it was that an ancestor of the woman who gave it had created the starter and one of her descendants, Melissa, inherited it.  Melissa brought it with her as she walked from the East Coast of America to the West Coast with a covered wagon.  Her descendants have been using it since.

Not only is using sourdough starter an historical cooking treat, but the starter itself is historical!

My daughter was home and we decided to play with the starter in different ways.  Not all of the recipes themselves were historical but they were very tasty.

I have to admit that I had neglected Melissa for a few months while she resided in the back of my refrigerator.  I was too busy to bake with her and didn't even think to feed her, so when I opened her container I found a grayish, tart-smelling liquid on top of the thicker batter.  It was not appealing and I thought I had ruined her.  However I recalled some reading that suggested to pour off the foul liquid and most of the batter, feed her well, and leave her on the counter to bubble.  She was sluggish at first.  For each of three days I let her bubble, poured off about half of the contents, fed her roughly equal parts of flour and warm water, and then let her bubble some more.  Her odor was getting more appealing.

Then I recalled the advice to use water in which a potato had been boiled.  I let it cool until it was comfortably warm and then mixed it in with more flour.  Wow!  Melissa started bubbling throughout and was no longer separating into the liquid and batter layers.  She smelled of the right kind of sour, making me willing to cook with her.

Beautiful
So my daughter and I started having some fun in the kitchen.  Our first recipe was for sourdough waffles, which I did not think to take pictures of or otherwise document.  (I chalk it up to the excitement of having my daughter home.)  I can give a link to the recipe, though.  Here it is:  King Arthur Flour Sourdough Waffle Recipe.  We had them for breakfast and stacked them with ham, Swiss cheese, a scrambled egg, and mayonnaise.  An open faced breakfast sandwich!  Yum.

Next we tried sourdough popovers.  The link to the recipe is here:  King Arthur Flour Sourdough Popovers Recipe.  You can see my daughter is a fan of the King Arthur Flour recipe collection.  She says they are all good and never had one fail.  This recipe I documented:

Sourdough Popovers

1 cup milk
3 large eggs
1/2 cup sourdough starter, fed or unfed
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

Only five ingredients!
1) In the microwave or in a small saucepan, warm the milk until it feels just slightly warm to the touch.

2) Combine the milk with the eggs, sourdough starter and salt, then mix in the flour.  Don't overmix; a few small lumps are OK.  The batter should be thinner than a pancake batter, about the consistency of heavy cream.

A few small lumps exist









 





















3) Heat a muffin or popover pan in the oven while it's preheating to 450 degrees F.

4) Carefully remove the hot pan from the oven, and spray it thoroughly with non-stick pan spray, or brush it generously with oil or melted butter.  Quickly pour the batter into the cups, filling them almost to the top.  If you're using a muffin tin, fill cups all the way to the top.  Space the popovers around so there are empty cups among the full ones; this leaves more room for expansion.

Four fifths full?
5) Bake the popovers for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven heat to 375 degrees F and bake for an additional 15 to 20 minutes, until popovers are golden brown.

They smell good, too.
6) Remove the popovers from the oven and serve immediately.

Yield:  6 popovers.

Well, five popovers anyway.

Our Notes

This was easy to mix and took very little time.

We used a non-stick pan spray on a popover pan; I happened to have a spray that was designed for the high temperatures of grilling.

We used a ladle to put the batter in the cups but this was awkward and we spilled a little.  I would recommend trying something with a pouring spout, like a large, glass measuring cup.

We filled the cups nearly full but only got five popovers out of it.  I think we should have filled them each about 2/3 full to get six.

The Verdict

Success!  They were a beautiful golden brown and they slid out of the pan easily.

Their flavor was egg-y and a little sour from the sourdough starter.  They were chewy, with a good crust and full of holes, as they should be.  They had a good "pop."  Our guest taster is a fan of Yorkshire pudding and said these were very, very good.

We ate them hot with butter.  My daughter had one the next day, slightly warmed in the microwave oven, and thought it had fewer large air pockets.  That was the smallest one where the cup was only half full of batter.

Tomorrow I'll post the other adventure in sourdough baking.

Update:

We made them several times again over the next few weeks.  We mixed the batter in a large, glass measuring cup and it poured into the pans with a minimum of mess and drips.  It was also easier to get to six popovers, too.  It just took a bit of practice to judge the right quantity to put in the cups. Each and every batch popped well and was very tasty.

Batter fits nicely
Six achieved!