Sugar-Crusted Popovers

I’m not one to easily back down from an argument, especially when it comes to anything food-related. (Well, except about whether brownies should have nuts or not. That’s just something I just can’t get worked up about, as much as some people do.) Recently I was having a bit of a disagreement with someone particularly stubborn about the role of fat in cooking.

sugared popovers

I believe fat is fine, but should be used where it makes a difference. For example, milk is better in hot chocolate than cream, as the heavy richness of the cream overwhelms the taste of the bittersweet chocolate. And I don’t think anyone who tastes a scoop of my chocolate sorbet can tells me it doesn’t have the intense flavor of the deepest, darkest chocolate dessert. I dare ya.

But on the other hand, if you’re going to pan-fry potatoes, a spoonful of duck fat in the frying pan will produce crackly, crisp-browned potato cubes, and they’re going to be a life-changing experience. So I’m happy to use it there. If you still afraid to try it, and are too concerned about eating duck fat, walk to the gym the next time you go, instead of driving there.

Last year Amanda Hesser was reminiscing with me about Maida Heatter, when she asked me to recreate Maida’s popover recipe. For those that don’t know who Maida Heatter is, she’s responsible for writing some of the most amazing, luscious, scrumptiously adjective-worthy baking books over the last few decades. Known for carrying around cellophane-wrapped brownies in her purse, and distributing them freely, she was equally generous with recipes as she was with words.

She’s such a hero to me that I adapted her unusually-good Sauerkraut Chocolate Cake for my book, The Great Book of Chocolate. And how surprised was I that after it came out, I got a letter from Miami, in that infamous distinctive handwriting of hers?

maida heatter letter

The illustrated note was brimming with her typical effusiveness. And in her recipes, few people could get away with using as many superlatives as she does. But because she’s so thrilled about the cakes and cookies she’s baking up, readers can’t help but being swept up in the excitement, and her headnotes make generous use of words like “Fabulous!”, “Delicious!” and “Divine!” And although some folks think words like that are outdated or should be avoided as food writing clichés, one can’t help but being charmed by her sincerity and passion, which invite bakers to dive right into the recipes. And sometimes, you know, a cake or cookie is just simply delicious or scrumptious, and you may as well just use the right word to describe it—to heck with all those rules about food writing.

(And can we just talk about the fact that she sent a letter with no street number or address, and it still arrived? Is there anything Maida Heatter can’t do?)

sugared popovers

Since the project was to re-think one of her recipes, I gave it prime real estate in my brain (where space is, admittedly, limited), and for some reason I kept thinking of the usual savory uses for popovers. Until it finally hit me that my recipe should exploit the crackly shell of a popover and its hollow, airy interior: I was going to turn popovers into sugared, doughnut-like pastries, with that same crispy, buttery, sugared coating, but without the doughy insides.

Like a bagel or baguette, the best part of a doughnut is the crust. And since in most pastries, I pick crisp over soft and damp any day, these sugar-crusted popovers were a revelation. I’m not going to put words in Maida’s mouth, but speaking for myself, I will say that they’re scrumptious, yummy, and fabulously delightful.

Sugar-Crusted Popovers

Makes 9

Adapted from my recipe in The New York Times and Maida Heatter’s Great Book of Desserts

I thought these wouldn’t stay crisp for very long after they were baked and coated with the sugar. But the next morning, I was surprised when I pulled off a hunk and they’re weren’t bad. But they are the best the day they’re made; leftovers can be stored in a container and snacked on the next day. You could freeze them in zip-top bags as well.

I don’t have popover tins, but found these work quite well in standard-sized muffin tins. For this recipe, feel free to use salted or unsalted butter, depending on your preference.

For the puffs:

  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (250 ml) whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 cup (140 g) flour

For the sugar coating:

2/3 cup (130 g) sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup (60 g) melted butter

Softened butter, for greasing the pan

1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF (200ºC). Liberally grease a nonstick popover pan, or a muffin pan with 1/2-cup indentations, with softened butter.

2. For the puffs, put the 2 tablespoons melted butter, eggs, milk, salt and sugar in a blender and blend for a few seconds.

3. Add the flour and whiz for about 10 seconds, just until smooth.

4. Divide the batter among the 9 greased molds, filling each 1/2 to 2/3rds full.

5. Bake for 35 minutes, or until the puffs are deep brown.

6. Remove from the oven, wait a few minutes until cool enough to handle, then remove the popovers from the pans and set them on a cooling rack. If they’re stubborn, you may need a small knife or spatula to help pry them out.

7. Mix the sugar and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Thoroughly brush each popover all over with the 1/4 cup (60 g) of melted butter, then dredge each puff generously in the sugar and cinnamon mixture to coat them completely. Let cool on the wire rack.

Related Links & Recipes

The Queen of Cake (Saveur)

English Gingersnaps (Caviar & Codfish)

Robert Redford Cake (Wednesday Chef)

Mondays With Maida

Chocolate Whoppers (Family Style Food)

Date-Nut Bars (Market Manila)

Date Espresso Loaf (Movable Feasts)

Maida Heatter’s Book of Great Desserts (Culinate)

Pascale’s Perfect Roast Potatoes (Chocolate & Zucchini)

Roast Potatoes in Duck Fat (Wrightfood)

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  • January 30, 2010 8:05am

    Those remind me of the morning buns at Bette’s Diner in Berkeley. Yum. And how cool is Maida’s handwriting?

  • January 30, 2010 8:12am

    I like the combination of food photos with other photos that you often have in your posts.

  • Sandra
    January 30, 2010 8:13am

    Aren’t popovers in England Yorkshire pudding? And what a very delicious addition to make these even better!!

  • Paula
    January 30, 2010 8:26am

    What a lovely take on popovers. They’ll be on the breakfast table tomorrow. I have baked my way through all Maida’s books, many of her recipes becoming staples at restaurants I’ve worked at. I wrote to her a few years back when I was running my own restaurant & bakery. She called me one day (in the middle of the lunch rush) and we had a wonderful conversation. She is such a warm and genuine person.

  • Wilhelmina
    January 30, 2010 8:30am


    These look wonderful! However I am taking this opportunity to thank you, THANK YOU, thank you for your chocolate sherbet recipe. Our toddler became deathly allergic to dairy and eggs ( and peanuts and yellow peppers) when she turned one. So out went dairy dairy products and eggs from our home.

    I still love visiting your blog and see the great posts on foods to admire, and I love reading the Perfect Scoop and the Sweet Life in Paris. Your chocolat chaud recipe works perfectly with soy- and almond- or hazelnut- milk by the way.

    Cakes and biscuits ( cookies) weren’t such a problem but frozen treats were. To serve to visiting adults too. Along came your recipe, and it works with soy- oat- nut- “milks” to make a gorgeous deep chocolate sherbet you can serve in the prettiest dishes and alongside chocolate cake.

    Our little girl is now two and a chocolate fiend. She loves the darkest chocolate and never took to soy” milk” chocolate. She loves the sherbet with vengeance.

    So thank you!

    Oh, and from the Twitter stream ages ago, bicarbonate of soda is near tinned tomatoes in Supermarkets as many Europeans add some bicarbonate to make canned tomatoes less acidic. Not fresh tomatoes, but those in tins yes. I’ve lurked a long time. This blog is a great guilty pleasure!

  • Jennifer
    January 30, 2010 8:37am

    You’re absolutely right about the importance of flavour with fat!

    The other good thing about animal fats (fat, lard, dripping – not butter), is that they reach a higher temperature than most oils before degenerating. Ideal then for crispiness and minimal fat penetration. Better still, duck and goose fat are said to contain omega-3 fats and closely resemble olive oil in health benefits: another foundation of the French Paradox!
    For a lighter and more neutral flavoured frying medium, grape-seed oil also works well at high temperatures and is (at least in France) much cheaper.

    I have learnt that you can have your fats and eat them too, as long as you know their, and, more importantly, your limits: I found out the hard way…

    Those popovers look a lot like Yorkshire puddings with sugar. What’s their history?

  • January 30, 2010 8:45am

    Fat, in all it’s varieties available, does make most things better indeed.

    We worked on Gluten Free Donuts and they turned out OK, but some things are better left alone and remain elusive for some.

  • January 30, 2010 8:57am

    Jennifer: The other good thing about duck fat (and other fats, like good-quality nut and olive oils) is that you use less. One tablespoon of duck fat has a lot more flavor than 4 tablespoons of store-bought salad oil.

    Sandra: I’m fairly certain that Yorkshire Pudding is usually cooked in beef fat, when you’re making roast beef. And I’ve seen recipes where the batter is poured right into the roasting dish. But I’m sure there’s many variations on that theme and popovers, as far as I know, are always baked in individual molds.

    Whilhelmina: Glad you like that chocolate sherbet recipe, too and am happy to hear you’ve successfully modified them using non-dairy alternatives.

    Jennifer K: I love the espresso milkshakes at Betty’s. Almost as much as Maida’s handwriting!

  • January 30, 2010 8:57am

    This is brilliant, David. Why didn’t someone think of this ages ago? It suddenly seems so obvious in retrospect. Can’t wait to give it a try.

  • January 30, 2010 9:14am

    Sugar-crusted, sugar-dusted…what a great twist on popovers! As usual, your post on this classic puff weaves the idea round a fascinating anecdote about the famous Maida – enjoyed the details. And the popovers opened a memory door to scenes at our Thanksgiving table in the Midwest. My little sister’s eyes always lit up when the popovers arrived, and she began to fill the empty shell with Mom’s currant jelly…a sweet instinct she has not lost. Will tell her to check this post!

  • January 30, 2010 10:09am

    I’m obsessed with breakfast foods right now–these seem so perfect! Who would’ve thought you could transform a savory classic into something this simple yet effective? Thank you for this recipe, I’m looking forward to baking them in my tiny kitchen in Paris!

  • January 30, 2010 10:30am

    These popovers deserve all the superlatives you can throw at them. I made a batch a couple of months ago and they’ve been on my mind ever since. Fabulous!

  • Nancy
    January 30, 2010 10:37am

    1. Hmmm, there is a bit of duck fat in the fridge. I guess there will be pan fried potatoes on the dinner table tonight! 2. Visiting my son tomorrow, I guess I will be baking these in the morning. He has been brought up on Maida Heatter baked goods, from the bran muffins to the blueberry cakes from the hamentaschen to the chocolate pudding. 3. Thank you for writing and thinking about Maida, each time I bake one of her recipes I feel she is over my shoulder watching me.

  • Nicole S.
    January 30, 2010 10:59am

    Brownies – no nuts. That way you can share with me ’cause I’m allergic. :)

  • Emily
    January 30, 2010 11:07am

    I have been making these periodically since I saw your recipe in the NYTimes (I even have a popover tin now). They are phenomenal – and so so easy to make.

  • January 30, 2010 11:09am

    Delightful post and scrumptiously delicious recipe! I haven’t made popovers for so long… You’ve inspired me to dig up my pan and make a batch very soon… And I couldn’t agree with you more about the use of fat!

  • Tags
    January 30, 2010 11:20am

    Maida Heatter’s Book of Great Chocolate Desserts is the first cookbook I ever bought, and the only one I never lent out until the new version came out. I made sure I got it back, though.

    Her “Positively The Absolute Best Chocolate Chip Cookies” recipe is the basis of my own cookie recipe, and I’ve made her “Queen Mother’s Cake” and “Craig Claiborne’s Rum Chocolate Dessert” more times than I can remember.

    You are my hero, she’s my champion.

  • January 30, 2010 11:31am

    Completely with you on the whole using fat when it makes a difference, your example of the milk based chocolate ice cream is spot on!

    Not come across pop-overs before… it seems to me to be a variation on the Yorkshire pudding, synonymous with our classic sunday roast. The idea of a less greasy and sweetened version of a ‘yorkshire’ sits very very well with me!


    p.s. read about GORDON RAMSAY visiting our culinary school last week on my blog :-)

  • January 30, 2010 11:45am

    It’s a Saturday morning, I’m sitting here drinking coffee and lamenting my breakfast options. This post is torture. My granola is really going to suck now.

  • January 30, 2010 11:57am

    Wow, looking at the photos I thought the recipe was going to be all complicated and scary-looking, but it looks really doable – and doesn’t even require me to go out and buy more kitchen gadgets! I definitely foresee a muffin tin coming out of the drawer today :)

    P.S. So glad to see cinnamon in the sugar crust. Cinnamon makes everything better :)

  • January 30, 2010 12:02pm

    So beautiful! I used to work at La Farine in the Bay Area when I was in high school…these look a bit like those wonderful morning buns they used to make. Totally different recipe but lovely reminiscence just the same…

  • January 30, 2010 12:19pm

    Really enjoyed reading your post and learning about Maida Heatter. She sounds delightful. This recipe looks wonderful and got me thinking about crispy, crunch egg kichel. I’m going to make your chocolate sorbet recipe.Just got an ice cream maker a couple of weeks ago and I’m having so much fun with it!

  • Kris
    January 30, 2010 12:27pm

    I made these the morning I read the recipe in the NYTimes last year and have continued to have them in our weekend breakfast rotation. A great treat to brighten up any grey winter morning!

  • January 30, 2010 1:17pm

    i’ll have one with some strawberry butter, please!

  • January 30, 2010 1:38pm

    From the picture, they looked like baked “bugnes” to me (the Burgundy word for plain beignets)… I am working on new breakfast option for my children. That would be one! Thanks!

  • Sheila
    January 30, 2010 1:49pm

    Maida Heatter’s cookbooks are at the top of my ‘go to list’ when I want to ‘do dessert’. Her flourless frozen chocolate mousse recipe has been given out to every person who’s ever eaten it in my house. None would leave until I shared!

  • Susan
    January 30, 2010 2:27pm

    The first time I made a German or Dutch pancake, my first thought was that it was almost a popover, just less sturdy with less flour and milk. I then looked at popover recipes and wondered how to go about making a sweet version. Then I thought..nah, who am I kidding..I’m not trained in the chemistry of baking, I’d botch it for sure. Thanks for this, because I still thought about it and you’ve validated that I wasn’t wrong in thinking it could be a sweet treat too.

  • Maureen in Austin
    January 30, 2010 2:39pm

    These look interesting. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten a popover. I’ve heard of them though.

  • martina
    January 30, 2010 2:40pm

    I wish there was an option of pushing a computer key and having those delicious looking popovers delivered instantly to the door. I agree with you that a moderate amount of fat in a recipe can greatly improve the flavor and be necessary. There is an autographed photo of Julia Child in my kitchen and we all know how she felt about butter!

  • Ariel
    January 30, 2010 2:49pm


    We used a muffin pan to bake these (I have a ceramic one). I had better luck treating them like mini- Dutch Babies. Our muffin pan is a small one, so I did them in two batches. The first, I greased the pan as described above; the second, I put a teeny pat of butter in the bottom of each indentation in the hot pan (pea-sized, it quickly melted). I found that they puffed up much better the second way. Our first batch were more like dense, eggy pucks! :)

    Also, we tried two other toppings: delicious with lemon juice and powdered sugar, and equally awesome drizzled with melted honey-butter. YUM!

  • January 30, 2010 3:14pm

    My hands are tied. Half crepe, half doughnut, oh, my!

  • January 30, 2010 3:27pm

    That looks amazing and dead easy too.
    Now, of course, I am tempted to make a savoury version…

  • Rona Y
    January 30, 2010 4:08pm

    Not only did she write you a lovely letter, but she used a Cary Grant stamp to send it! You must have really made an impression on her! :-)

  • January 30, 2010 4:21pm

    Ahhh, these look AMAZING!! You know I’m totally gonna have to try these out now.

  • January 30, 2010 4:23pm

    Genius! Baked “donuts” that look (and taste?) like fried donuts!

    I may have to test this theory out. ;-)

  • richard
    January 30, 2010 4:27pm

    i had the distinct pleasure of visiting Maida Heatter’s house in Fla. and spent two hours with my baking idol. she served her twice baked biscotti and she gave me the recipe before the book came out.she told great stories about how she started her baking career and how she go the idea to do a cookbook. It was a major highlight in my culinary career.

  • Eleanor
    January 30, 2010 5:31pm

    David – Yorkshire puddings are much the same batter recipe. Traditionally cooked in individual portions – form the first course of Sunday lunch with gravy made from the beef roasting juices (fills you up so you don’t need as much of the meat – as meat was always so expensive). Best I ever had was on a restaurant barge where the beef had been cooked in Theakston’s Old Peculiar (a very strong beer made in N Yorkshire).

    And yes lard is usually used for the fat – although these days any good quality fat (not oil!) will do.

    If any puddings left over they were served as desert with jam, golden syrup etc and custard.

    Sometimes the batter is cooked in a large container – notably for ‘Toad in the hole’ (believe that may be similiar to ‘pigs in a blanket’) – always confuses my European friends when they do the translation! And nowadays a huge pudding cooked on its own and then filled with the rest of the main course.

    And there speaks a true Yorkshire woman whose puddings always rise!

    Will have to try your recipe next time (tomorrow lunch!)

  • January 30, 2010 5:46pm

    Ha! Another use for my Aebleskiver pan. I’ve been posting different ways to use that new utensil of mine (so as to justify the purchase), and recently made mini Yorkshire puddings. For that savory version, I just saved out some of the beef roast drippings to put in the little cups. Now I can do these delightful breakfast pastries. I do have a popover tin, but think for this, a smaller size would be perfect. So, thanks David. You’ve done it again.

  • January 30, 2010 6:26pm

    I want one. Now.

    And you are so right. Maida Heatter is THE original, never-to-be-duplicated domestic goddess. When I started out making pastry in our restaurant in the seventies, I worked my way through her books. She is “Fabulous!”, “Delicious!” and “Divine!” And I love the re-work of this. I always forget about popovers, so old-fashioned and so reassuring. I’ve been having a serious yen for donuts–really good donuts so hard to find– but I think these are going to be even better. Thanks.

  • January 30, 2010 7:49pm

    david said> airy interior

    first I’ve read : “Hairy interior” , huh.. :)

  • Kate
    January 30, 2010 8:34pm

    I discovered this recipe when it was in the NY Times. I love it. I even like to have them without the butter and cinnamon sugar and have nice homemade jam or lemon curd. A good friend just said last night, “We haven’t had those sugar puffs in a while…” I guess this is a sign to have them for breakfast tomorrow!

  • Charlotte
    January 30, 2010 8:43pm

    I completely agree with your stance on the whole fat in cooking thing. When it makes sense, it just makes sense. Just like complaining about being healthy then jumping into a car to go to the gym.

    I can’t wait to try this recipe. Thanks again!

  • January 30, 2010 8:58pm

    Wow. I haven’t had popovers for very long. My wife was reading your post and yelled at me “when was last time we had popovers??”. Now I am done, lol: since I am the only person making them at home, oh well…I know have the responsability to conceive them as soon as possible, lol. I will give it a try this upcoming weekend in two versions: the one I used to do and also some of them following your recipe. Thanks David for your always informative postings. Highly appreciated.

  • January 30, 2010 9:13pm

    I love the fact that you still use a muffin pan to make popovers. (Same here, but I’m not a world-known cooking guru.) Maida sounds like a marvel–how wonderful to receive such accolades from her.

    I’m adapting this recipe to be gluten free and making these popovers tomorrow for breakfast.


  • January 30, 2010 9:37pm

    I TOTALLY agree with you about your amazing chocolate sorbet! ;)
    Oh, and yum to the popovers and Maida Heatter’s awesome books and recipes!

  • January 30, 2010 9:55pm

    I just read your book (The Sweet Life In Paris). It was hilarious and awesome! I’m still laughing about it! You’re a great writer. Which I’m sure you know. And have been told plenty of times. Just decided to comment about it.

  • January 30, 2010 10:04pm

    “If you still afraid to try it, and are too concerned about eating duck fat, walk to the gym the next time you go, instead of driving there.”

    Truly my favourite line of the day. I might have to get on this potatoes with duck fat business…

  • January 30, 2010 11:04pm


    As beautiful as your photographs are, and as yummy as the popovers look, I have to say that what really stands out is your writing style. It is entertaining, intelligent and personable. Even if I don’t make your recipes, I always enjoy reading your posts.

    And kudos to you for using a muffin pan and not rushing out to buy an expensive, one-purpose-only popover pan. The popovers I make in an old, well seasoned muffin pan are as scrumptious as ever, and taste a little better to me, knowing that I didn’t buy the popover pan I saw at Sur La Table for $23.

  • Cindy
    January 30, 2010 11:12pm

    Finished “The Sweet Life in Paris” a few minutes ago. Very entertaining. Laughed out loud. I suppose it’s just as well I’m on a diet or I’d be baking some of the great recipes (and putting on more pounds!). Looking forward to the next in the series (?).

  • January 31, 2010 12:00am

    LOVE this idea! I don’t make popovers as often as I’d like because I know I’ll eat the entire pan, or close to it. Shame. But I am going to have to try these and bring them into the store so that I don’t eat them all. Now I think I’ll have a good reason to buy one of our pop over pans.

    I like how “sturdy” the popovers look in your photos.

  • January 31, 2010 12:10am

    I WILL be making these immediately!!

  • January 31, 2010 1:10am

    I’m looking forward to trying out this recipe, and I can vouch for the wisdom of roasting potatoes with duck fat. The potatoes turn out crisp and translucent; I’ll never use anything else on my spuds.

  • sabina
    January 31, 2010 3:48am

    Thank you so very much for this posting. It was the perfect inspiration for a dessert I needed to bring to our friends house this evening. I never new popovers were so simple to make, the children fought over the extras and adults sat around licking the cinnamon sugar off their plates. Simply divine.

  • January 31, 2010 6:14am

    Gorgeous…I love it when people are expressive and excited about their recipes; makes me want to try them ASAP… something you have just done with these utterly beautiful popovers. Muffin tin – YES!
    This is such a ‘basic ingredient’ quick to make recipe, it makes me BEAM!..Mmmmm! Thank you for posting it!

  • john
    January 31, 2010 6:22am

    Agree about being able to hit the “enter” key and have those popovers materialize in front of you. Next best thing will be to make sure my sister (the desert guy in our family) hits her “in” box this morning and gets cracking. Hadn’t had the duck fat fries until last June at Washington Square Bar & Grill in North Beach/San Francisco, just great, they have them to start, and follow it up with 3 varieties of organic pan fried potatoes with their petrale sole, heaven. And, where would you be when you wanted *exploding* noodles for a Thai salad base if you didn’t have hot oil? That’s always fun to do with the unsuspecting hanging around in your kitchen…”hey, watch this!”….works every time…john

  • Berit
    January 31, 2010 7:06am

    Looks a lot like Quarkbällchen to me … here is an English link in case you are interested :-)

  • January 31, 2010 9:00am

    Love these popovers, love Maida Heatter! She taught my sister and me to bake–our first cookbook outside the Betty Crocker realm was the Book of Great Chocolate Desserts. She is such a cheerleader in the kitchen, which is especially great for beginning bakers. We love her so much that we’re blogging her Book of American Desserts, which has been a lot of fun and calories so far.
    And really. Those popovers did not last 15 minutes in my kitchen. Spectacular.

  • jill
    January 31, 2010 10:18am

    I am a first time commenter..but a serious foodie and get much enjoyment from your blog. Of course , I also get a lot of great recipes and ideas! I had a friend in the 70’s that used to fill popovers with slightly thickened fresh berries and top with a mound of whipped cream. She called them pop tarts (before the commercial so named). They were a;ways a big hit at parties and so yummy.

  • January 31, 2010 10:31am

    These sugar-coated popovers look amazing, and I’m certain they are. Everything I’ve ever made by Maida Heatter has met all my expectations. But I’m more intrigued by the envelope of the letter she sent you. I have drawers full of envelopes I’ve received, and probably all for different reasons, but mostly for the script, the stamps, and sometimes even the person who sent it.

  • January 31, 2010 10:31am

    These sugar-coated popovers look amazing, and I’m certain they are. Everything I’ve ever made by Maida Heatter has met all my expectations. But I’m more intrigued by the envelope of the letter she sent you. I have drawers full of envelopes I’ve received, and probably all for different reasons, but mostly for the script, the stamps, and sometimes even the person who sent it.

  • January 31, 2010 10:33am

    Sally: It’s interesting that writing experts say not to use many adjectives and what-have-you, but Maida’s writings show that one can write as they want to and be successful in winning readers over. I give her much more credit than I could give here, but glad so many readers enjoy her books and recipes as much as I have over the years.

    Berit: These do look similar, but aren’t deep-fried. So you can eat more of them : )

    Eileen: Someone told me that Maida was a designer, who designed scarf and other accessories, but I did a search online and wasn’t able to find any examples. That would certainly explain her expressive handwriting.

    Will: Just after I wrote this, I ended up roasting some potatoes for dinner. For about a pound of potatoes, I only had to use 1 tablespoon of duck fat. And boy, were they good!

    Rona Y: Knowing Maida (well, we only met once…) I’m sure Cary Grant gave her those stamps. And she likely reached into her purse and handed him a hand-wrapped brownie back.

    Katie & Cindy: Glad you liked the book so much! Remerci…

  • January 31, 2010 12:03pm

    You can take the simplest of recipes and make them special. I love your writing!

  • January 31, 2010 12:18pm

    The popovers look wonderful and amazed by how easy there are to make…so family getting some this morning for a late breakfast, seriously! I love the personal story, including the photo of the letter and the envelope but in truth…you had me at Cary Grant, oh my.

  • Denise
    January 31, 2010 12:52pm

    You had me at cinnamon sugar! These were wonderful little treats that were so easy to make, I’ve made toast that took longer ;-) We shared some with our neighbor who helped dig our car out of the snow this morning, he loved them!

    After reading all the posts this morning I have determined I have to find the recipe for : Craig Claiborne’s Rum Chocolate Dessert, buy The Sweet Life in Paris and read it right away, and finally make the Chocolate Sorbet that I’ve been hearing about for so long.
    Something tells me I won’t get to my To-Do list today…..oh well, sacrafices :-)

  • January 31, 2010 12:56pm

    Her Palm Beach brownies are SO GOOD.

  • dccites
    January 31, 2010 2:16pm

    These look fabulous, can’t wait to try them.

    Also–am I going crazy or did you write an entry about a coffee one-cup drip maker that holds the water and grounds until you release it to drip? And that soon a version with a lid would be coming out. It could have been awhile ago, but I can’t find it. If you did, could you mention the name of it again so I can google to find it? Thanks and keep up the great blogging.

  • Sue
    January 31, 2010 2:41pm

    I love popovers and often make them for dinner — the addition of sugar only makes them even more wonderful. Maida Heatter is also one of my favorite cookbook authors. Her polka dot cheesecake is never-fail fabulous. It is the dessert I am most often asked to make. Thanks for this.

  • January 31, 2010 2:44pm

    It’s been awhile since I’ve enjoyed a plain popover, never mind this sparkling version you have featured here. Of course I am going to have to try them now. A couple of years ago, I got into the habit of making regular popovers when a friend was building some stonewalls at my house – they were his favorite breakfast treat with jam. My father is also very fond of laplanders, (his name for pop-overs). So, now I have something new to share with the fellas. You know, I haven’t been to the David Lebovitz blog in a few weeks, and now I see what I have been missing. This has a delightful half hour of catch-up.
    Thanks David.

  • cybrecita
    January 31, 2010 3:51pm

    I wonder what it would be like to coat the muffin cups with sugar before baking?

  • John Silberman
    January 31, 2010 4:32pm


    Thank you for this recipe. My 15 year old godson is an avid baker and popover lover, and we bake together all the time, so now I know what we’ll make this week. I have been a Maida Heatter fan for 30 years or so. One of the highlights of my culinary life was to meet her at Craig Clailborne’s house in East Hampton for an AIDS fundraiser in the 1980s.

    She was totally delightful.

  • KathyK
    January 31, 2010 6:34pm

    We had a very unusual 13 inches of snow here in Virginia and I made these for breakfast this morning -they were wonderful! A non-stick pan is your friend – even with liberal buttering the batch in the regular pan stuck a bit, but the non-stick batch did great. And so easy!
    Thank you!

  • January 31, 2010 7:10pm

    How about the fact that Maida uses Cary Grant stamps??? AWESOME. DIVINE.

  • Marc Sheldon
    January 31, 2010 10:17pm

    Now for a (sort of fusion) take on toad in the hole and french fruit tartes, why not do these in a larger pan with fresh fruit ? Stone fruit would be marvelous (they are in season here in Australia right now).

  • January 31, 2010 10:19pm

    I literally read this, walked my laptop downstairs, and started pulling ingredients. HOLY. COW. So delicious and simple! Thank you for sharing!

  • Holly
    January 31, 2010 10:35pm

    This is the PERFECT recipe for kids. My 10 year old daughter made these last night for dessert with very little help needed from me. She loved whirring the batter up in the blender, and she squealed in delight when she saw them puffing up in the oven. And then to eat these warm with the butter and cinnamon sugar. Amazing! I’m hoping I now have a budding pastry chef on my hands…

  • January 31, 2010 11:05pm

    It’s 4:00 am here in Britain and I am sitting in my freezing cold kitchen reading about popovers coated in sugar! I’m going to surprise the children and have fresh gluten free popovers (fingers crossed that I will successfully convert your recipe) for their breakfast. Thanks for the inspiration and making my insomnia worthwhile.

  • claire
    February 1, 2010 12:12am

    Making popovers reminds me of when I was a kid. I used to make them all the time when I was seven or eight, probably because they were easy and we almost always had the ingredients on hand. Coating them in butter and cinnamon sugar is genius! The only problem I have now is that I have a batch of crepe/donut thingys sitting on my kitchen counter and can’t bring myself to give them away. It’s okay to eat all of them by myself, right?

  • Cindi
    February 1, 2010 12:20am

    Absolutely, positively fabulous! I zested a bit of orange rind into the cinnamon sugar so as to remind me of the morning buns at Tartine in San Francisco.

    I’ll be working with Cindy Mushet this coming Saturday and will be bringing a batch for us to nibble!

    Thanks, David. Seeing your name in my inbox always makes me smile.


  • February 1, 2010 12:40am

    Here’s an update: 5:30am and popovers are out of the oven, coated in sugar and I’ve already eaten one. I’m debating if I’ve got enough time to make another batch before everyone wakes up- then I could probably have another one or two…..These worked well with gluten free flour.

    I’ve also just remembered that I bought your book for a friend as a Christmas present and I still haven’t posted it. So, whilst waiting for those popovers to come out of the oven I have done a truly evil thing. I’ve unwrapped it and am now thinking of keeping it for myself. I’ve got something to re-gift in the cupboard and I think this is the only way to go.

    My kitchen is lovely and warm now and there’s a little dusting of snow outside. My kids are going to love it today even though it’s Monday. I shall tell them that the popovers came courtesy of Chef Skinner!

  • February 1, 2010 12:52am

    These are totally snacks that you have to eat right away. Perfect reason to eat a few in one sitting!

  • Tiny
    February 1, 2010 1:07am

    Those are cute popovers! I like it! Thanks for sharing this one to us. It has been a while since I had some popovers.

  • February 1, 2010 6:06am

    Perfect breakfast treat to take pruning with us yesterday in the cold! They were so easy it’s dangerous!!! Now I’ll want to make them every Sunday. This recipe is going into the Harvest Recipe File, they’ll be a huge hit for our mid-morning coffee break. When you rely on friends and family to pick your grapes, you have to make sure there are lots of delicious treats!! Thanks David!

  • February 1, 2010 6:55am

    David, I’ve eaten dinner and am sipping a glass of Vieux Télégraphe, so popovers are far from my mind. Needless to say, my stomach started have that gut response of “oh yes, this will be good.” Funny, I’ve been thinking of adding popovers to the school afternoon snack cooking extravaganza. Maybe I saw them in Simple Food? I think my teacher tried them once and while probably delicious (oops, that’s a no-no, right), they were perhaps a bit plain for the kids. How brilliant to roll them in cinnamon sugar.

    And the nice thing about fat is that if you use it right, it leaves that unmistakeable and “unduplicaetable” flavor, while conveniently wicking out the “grease” component. Nancy

  • Monica
    February 1, 2010 10:03am

    I’ve been thinking about making these all weekend, and have finally given in, since I have a meeting this evening where I can share the goodness.

    I can’t believe that they were so simple and quick, just out of ‘store cupboard’ ingredients (though I did have to ask a neighbour for a little milk, in exchange for a popover!). I made them in a UK muffin tin, so got 15, rather than 9-bonus!

    Thank you for another great recipe David!

  • February 1, 2010 10:08am

    The title of this post is very seductive… careful with your powers!

    I’m a huge fan of fat where needed as well. Improperly placed it can ruin a meal and properly placed it can make the meal.

  • February 1, 2010 12:01pm

    I was going to eat leftover German Chocolate Cake for breakfast but now I shall have to make these. Oh my god do they look good.

  • February 1, 2010 1:14pm

    This is DEFINATELY the bomb! I have been making muffin doughnuts (from Cooks Illustrated, I believe) for several years that have a similar coating but too much muffin and not enough crispy crust – THESE are the answer! The second batch is already cooling on the counter…waiting for my professional reviewers (children) to arrive home and devour them.

  • February 1, 2010 1:26pm

    Currently I try to avoid sugar, look tempting though!

  • 3Boys
    February 1, 2010 1:29pm

    I made these yesterday and they were great. Mine puffed up a lot more than the ones in your photo. Must be the U.S. Bobs red mill flour. I bought new cinnamon for the best flavor and used a bit higher proportion than your recipe calls for. My son wants me to make them every morning. I found your blog after I bought your book at full price.

  • February 1, 2010 1:50pm

    An upscale churro! Ooh la la, olé!

  • christina
    February 1, 2010 2:29pm

    Politically incorrect bacon [ good quality ] and bacon drippings add a terrific flavor to vegetables, soups, whatever..It’s the smokiness I think.

  • christina
    February 1, 2010 2:29pm

    Politically incorrect bacon [ good quality ] and bacon drippings add a terrific flavor to vegetables, soups, whatever..It’s the smokiness I think.I little bit goes a long way..

  • Eleanor
    February 1, 2010 7:06pm

    An interesting article about fat/cholestorel/exercise etc

    As the daughter of a (now) insulin dependent mother and a Scottish father who has never drunk alcohol and is still the same weight as when he married 54 years ago I have always been a little skeptical about the so called link between fat and weight/cholestorel levels.

    So I will continue using ‘real’ fat – lard, dripping, goose fat – all in moderation – whilst avoiding simple carbohydrates. Not a fan of the strict Atkins but most of my meals consist of protein and vegetables.

    Christina – many happy memories of Saturday lunch of bacon (fried not grilled!) with the fat poured over cabbage – heaven!

  • Susan
    February 1, 2010 7:12pm

    I just made these, Wow! They are so good. I made a half recipe and made them in mini muffin pans. They took 22 minutes to bake. I love them! They were so quick to put together and rose so high and are light as air. I ate three of them; one I dipped into some applesauce that I had made. Will definately make these again. Thanks, David.

  • Crystal
    February 1, 2010 10:07pm

    I don’t know why I never thought to coat popovers in sugar. I tried putting sugar IN with the rest of the ingredients once, and that was not a winner. But I still maintain that the only way to eat plain popovers is with jam AND sharp cheddar. They are (insert favorite superlative here)!

  • South Campus Bakery
    February 2, 2010 1:47am

    We love popovers! Sugar-crusted? Even better. Great post David!

  • February 2, 2010 5:32am

    A memorable example of the difference between American and English attitudes towards fat surfaced in a recipe from Brit Good Housekeeping a while back. Roast goose with balls of sausage wrapped in bacon cooked in the pan drippings. The writer waxed rhapsodic about all “that luscious, glistening fat,” not being ironic intentionally outrageous either. No doubt it is wonderful, though.

  • Maria
    February 2, 2010 5:59pm

    Sitting near my computer last Sunday morning I was happy to hear the skype ring. There on the other end was my 22 year old daughter away at college with one of your steaming popovers in her hand. She ate it in in seconds as we talked and started on a second as we exchanged news! Fresh out of her oven it was both humorous and maddening to have both just out of my reach!

  • February 3, 2010 6:44am

    I made a gluten-free version of these for brunch on Sunday. I also topped them with some sliced almonds. The results were beautiful and melt-in-your mouth good. Son was home from college and he ate four in rapid succession. Actually, hubby and I didn’t waste much time eating ours either. ;-) Son said they were the closest thing he’s eaten to a gluten-free cinnamon bun. :-) I can’t wait to make them again. Thank you so much for the this wonderful recipe, David!


  • February 3, 2010 7:44pm

    Oh my! These look absolutely delicious; I know what I’m making this weekend!!

  • Matthew
    February 4, 2010 12:26pm


    You’ll get rid of that dip in the center and have higher popovers if you heat the batter slightly before baking (as you would eggs for genoise–just until warm). I always use wondra flour, which doesn’t need to rest, but regular flour needs about an hour if you want big beautiful popovers. Funny, I saw a recipe just like this around New Year’s on
    See her January 9th post.

  • February 4, 2010 4:11pm

    OH MY GOD. I just made these and they were delicious. And I guess I should amend that. I didn’t actually make them. I made my boyfriend make them for me for my birthday. I hate donuts but absolutely adored these.

  • Susan
    February 5, 2010 11:26am

    I, too, am a huge fan of Maida Heatter and have been fortunate enough to receive one of her handwritten letters in response to one of my own. My love for that dear lady is unsurpassed and I was happy to find her sauerkraut cake in your chocolate book. Might I add that I think your writing style is every bit as wonderful. I enjoy your sense of humor, your directness and your ability to make me want to head to the kitchen and try something you suggest right away.

  • February 5, 2010 1:53pm

    I have now made these popovers in doughnuts’ clothing twice, and wow, David, you totally nailed it. I love everything about these babies. I somehow missed the recipe in the New York Times back in March, so thank you for publishing it here. You and Maida make a great team.

  • February 5, 2010 11:03pm

    This immediately brought back memories of popover-making when I was little. They were promptly and without hesitation declared to be magic puffy clouds, and we ate them with honey butter. These look fabulous as well!


  • Amy
    February 7, 2010 1:58am

    There is a bakery in Mission, KS called Chacko’s that makes cinnamon rolls baked in a jumbo muffin pan, then rolls them in cinnamon sugar hot out of the oven. They call them downtowners, and you have to buy them early in the day, because they almost always sell out. This recipe reminds me of them, except that I’m hoping I won’t have to hoist myself out of the chair when I finish eating one of your popovers the way I do with a downtowner. Seriously, downtowners are so rich and so heavy and the portion so huge, that I’m always surprised I don’t have to adjust the steering wheel over my belly before I can drive home. So, this recipe, well, dear David, it appeals. Thank you.

  • Chris S.
    February 7, 2010 1:32pm

    KathyK: These popped right out of a really liberally buttered (non-nonstick) muffin tin after I waited a couple of extra minutes for them to cool.

    Forgot I had gotten rid of my pastry brush, though, so I improvised a “mop” out of a rolled up paper towel. Any one out there use a silicon pastry brush and like it?

    Also, should they puff up or should they be sunken like in your photo, David? I’m thinking I may have overblended.

    Great recipe. Thanks!

  • February 7, 2010 2:50pm

    Chris S: Mine puffed, and then receded in the middle. Some do that, some don’t. Since I was adapting the recipe from another source (Maida Heatter), I assume that was the intent.

    Matthew: That’s interesting and looks worth a try. I don’t know if the sugar-cinnamon combo was in Rose’s bread book, although I don’t have a copy so can’t tell. (I’m sure it’s a great book, but I don’t bake bread.) But sometimes, great minds think alike~

    Amy: Lol about the steering wheel! I always see people buying those giant cinnamon buns at the airport to bring on the plane, thinking that they’re going to be charged for excess baggage!

    Crystal: I tried a few variations when I did the original recipe, including adding some butter and caramelized sugar in the batter, which was a rock-hard, lava-like disaster. So I don’t futz with the recipe, I just make it as is.

  • PpFt
    February 8, 2010 12:47am

    I love all members of the Yorkshire pudding/popover/hooligan pancake family.

    Did a batch of savoury ones (cheddar and chives) yesterday, followed by these today. Naturally the ones that weren’t weighed down by 1 cup of shredded cheddar rose more : )

    Based on previous experiments, I warm-oiled the muffin pan by sticking it in the oven while preheating, then running a stick of butter a couple of times around each indentation once the oven beeped.

    I sprinkled some cinnamon into the batter for no reason but to have my kitchen smell lovely!

    This was the pre-dredging result.
    I don’t know why the one on the right puffed up in the middle, unlike the rest.

    Had a leftover for supper, which was cold and soggy but toasted up nicely in the toaster oven.

  • February 8, 2010 4:16pm

    I made Blueberry Popovers for my breakfast yesterday and they were *unbeliveable*. I just put up a post about them and looking at the photos just made me want to make them again. I’d love to try the sugared version, what a great idea!

  • Deborah Jessey
    February 10, 2010 1:41pm

    I just made these according to your recipe. What better thing to do when you’re snowed in then bake? I must say my husband and I almost swooned with the first bite. They were excellent. I used three different dredgings: sugar (since my husband doesn’t like cinnamon), sugar and cinnamon, and powdered sugar. Powdered sugar was nice, but didn’t have the crunch and that was half the fun of eating so I’ll stick with cinnamon and sugar. I will take your word for it that the popovers hold over until the next day. We won’t have any left to test that theory. Thanks for the recipe!

  • February 16, 2010 8:50pm

    Love the sugar coating and I agree totally about the wonderful flavors a good fat can bring to any dish. Never forget the first time added a TBL of duck fat and it took the dish to a totally different level!

  • Patty
    February 21, 2010 10:22am

    I finally made these for breakfast this morning. It had been years since I made popovers. They used to be a dinner staple, before I mastered biscuits. Although your recipe varies from the ancient Betty C. one that I used, it was wonderful, and so easy when done in the blender. I do believe these will become a regular again, thanks!! (Have added your next book to my Amazon wish-list…perhaps for my anniversary or Mother’s Day.)

  • VJ
    February 22, 2010 12:30am

    I thought about dropping out of high school and selling these for a living. For a bit.

  • Jeff
    February 23, 2010 8:46am

    Love the blog, LOVED these popovers. I made them during one of our big blizzards here in DC along with thick dark hot chocolated. Perfect snowbound comfort food dessert.

  • March 7, 2010 1:44am

    This looks so mouth watering! I wish I could eat one right now!

  • Tucker Sweitzer
    August 10, 2010 10:24pm

    Hi David,

    So glad you brought up Maida Heatter! I used to make her Swiss Walnut Cake way back when and somehow have managed to lose track of the recipe and my copy of her Desserts book. It was published in the early to mid 80s–any chance you have the book and recipe?


  • December 19, 2010 4:07am

    I was searching for a popover recipe to make for my family on Christmas morning and found this one. It looks simple and amazing. I’ll have to give it a test run before the big day! Maybe tomorrow! ; )