Before Passover is over, treat yourself to some popovers.
Judy Geller, a dream client and the mastermind behind many industry-leading conferences and events, introduced me to these years ago. We would meet at a cafe where I could spread out advertising concepts and layouts for her to review. Then we’d linger and talk about family, holidays, and her family’s Passover Popover recipe.
These popovers are so delicious, so un-Passover-ish, we might as well just call them “bread” and be done with the pretense.
The other day when I called to ask if I could post the recipe, Judy asked, “Which one?” To my surprise, she has not one, but two family recipes for Passover Popovers, and they come with a side of sisterly competition. She went on to explain.
Judy’s grandmother Edna Shuman was born in Allston/Brighton, Massachusetts, and raised her family on Verndale Street in Brookline. Her daughters, Bobby and Joni, were part of a close multigenerational family, with relatives living in the same duplex or within walking distance of each other. Edna’s popovers were a Passover tradition.
Joni swears by Edna’s original family recipe, and insists they are the best.
Bobby, Judy’s mother, dares to disagree, and declares HER recipe by far the best.
“My mother doesn’t remember where she got the recipe, but she’s been making these for about sixty years,” said Judy. “She also says that she was the prettiest baby,” she added, laughing.
When I asked which she prefers, Judy diplomatically hedged. “For me to pick would just get me into trouble. It’s like choosing a favorite child.”
So am I willing to pit sisters against each other in a popover smackdown?
Will I be the Paul Hollywood who reaches out to award a highly coveted handshake?
You betcha. And now, here’s my verdict.
Joni’s recipe from Nana Edna makes hearty muffin-like rolls. They’re tasty, for sure. They’re also made with oil, so they can go with meat or dairy. But while baking them in popover pans makes them high, it doesn’t turn them into popovers. So I’m calling them “rolls.”
Bobby’s recipe makes popover puffs with a light brown crust and an airy, even hollow, eggy interior. Baking them on a cookie sheet means they can’t get stuck in those deep popover wells, a persistent problem in my kitchen. Because they are a choux pastry, they can also double as cream puff shells to make into an easy dessert—just fill with ice cream and drizzle with fudge sauce.
So the handshake goes to…Judy’s mom, Bobby. Hers are more like real popovers. But here are both recipes so you can see which popovers win you over. Perhaps we now have a Fifth Question: Which Passover Popover shall it be?
Bobby Wagman’s Passover Popovers
Heat oven to 400°.
Makes 8. Recipe doubles well.
- 1 stick margarine or butter
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup cake meal
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 4 large eggs
1. Melt the butter or margarine in the water and add dry ingredients gradually while still on the heat.
2. Remove from heat and add eggs, ONE at a TIME, beating after each.
3. Sprinkle in some cinnamon.
4. Prepare a cookie sheet by lining with either parchment paper or well-greased aluminum foil. Drop by heaping tablespoons onto the sheet, forming 8 mounded-up popovers.
5. Bake about 40-50 minutes or until golden brown. Check about every 10 minutes or so to see they don’t burn.
6. Cool, then carefully peel them off the paper or foil. Store in a sealed bag for a couple of days.
Joni Shore’s Farfel Rolls for Passover
Heat oven to 400°.
Makes about 15.
- 1 box (16 ounces ) farfel
- 2 cups of warm water (plus a little more) to wet farfel
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- Salt (not too much, just to taste)
- Cinnamon (not too much, just to taste)
- 7 large eggs, beaten
- ¾ cup vegetable oil
1. Mix all ingredients well.
2. Put into large muffin or popover pans, but not up all the way because they rise. (Note: I put baking trays underneath in case they overflow.)
3. Bake for about 30-35 minutes, checking to see that they are done.