There may be only five ingredients in popovers, but they undeniably are not the healthiest. The main culprit of this would be the butter. 15g grams of it into the batter, and the popover cups/muffin tins must also be heavily greased with butter to ensure the pastry doesn’t stick and is moist enough. This is troublesome because even though I’d like to make popovers for my family, my brother and I have both been warned not to consume too many fatty foods for the sake of our cholesterol levels.
Therefore, the adjustment I made to the original recipe was making it healthier by switching out the fat ingredient from butter to olive oil. Considering butter contains more water than fat, I’d need less olive oil per gram of butter.
A minor change I thought would also be prudent to make was to reduce the amount of salt from ½ teaspoon to to ¼ teaspoon. The main purpose of salt in this recipe is to enhance the flavor of the pastries, so this change would not impact the recipe much. I also wanted to add vanilla extract to the recipe to capitalize on how salt can enhance sweet flavors and lessen the need to add unhealthy spreads like whipped cream or butter when serving the popovers.
As you can see from the featured image, the reason not much changed is because the function of the butter was to coat the flour, prevent it from interacting too much with water, and thus minimize gluten formation so that the gluten framework did not become so strong that it forced out all moisture, and this was achieved due to the fact that oil and the fat in butter are both hydrophobic triglycerides. However, it was important that not too much be added – partly because olive oil has a stronger flavor that butter, and also because without gliadin and glutenins interacting, the dough wouldn’t stretch enough to rise.
The taste of the olive oil was also enhanced by the vanilla extract. I only added a small amount to this batch because I wanted to be cautious, but these olive oils popovers ended up having a more complex flavor that filled in for what I felt was missing from the butter popovers.