Gluten Free Ratio Rally – Popovers

by Jenn on February 1, 2012

in Desserts,Flops,GF Ratio Rally,Gluten Free

Chocolate Popovers

These were supposed to be gluten free chocolate popovers.  Popovers are like muffins but rise more and have more air inside, hence they “pop over” the tin they are baked in.  As you can see, I didn’t quite get all the kinks worked out by the deadline for this month’s ratio rally :)

This month, Mrs. R from Honey from Flinty Rocks challenged us all to make popovers – and as Erin mentioned on twitter last week, this challenge is not for the faint of heart!  Whereas muffins are downright easy to make gluten free because they are dense and cakey, popovers depend on trapping air so that they can rise a LOT and be fluffy, which can be a bit difficult without that gluten in there to help keep the air locked in.

Ruhlman’s ratio for popovers is 2 : 1 : 1 / liquid : egg: flour.  I attempted to model mine after David Lebovtiz’s sugar crusted popovers, which follows a similar ratio (though slightly less liquid), though I created a gluten free mix where the flour consisted of 1/3 starch (tapioca and potato) and 2/3 flours (white rice, buckwheat, corn, cocoa).  As mentioned in the discussion this month by a few participants, some added fat goes a long way to helping out the popovers – David’s recipe already included melted butter and I even added in some melted chocolate, so I don’t think missing the fat was my problem.

One thing I noticed right away when I took these out of the oven was that despite the fact that I had greased my muffin tin with rather liberal amounts of butter that would have made Paula Dean proud, the “popovers” stuck to the sides incredibly – in fact I struggled to pry them out with a knife without completely ripping them apart in the process.  And then, once I successfully had released them from their baking pan prison, when I took a bite they were dry and tasteless, in the way that often gives GF baked goods a bad rep in the flavor department – a shock, because how could anything with cocoa and melted chocolate be tasteless??? Not only that but their consistency was dense and cakey, like muffins. Not popovers.

If nothing else, taking David’s advice to roll them in melted butter and sugar was an excellent idea. And while they weren’t awesome popovers, the butter/sugar covered up a multitude of sins and made them taste downright delicious (as butter and sugar tend to do :) ).

So what went wrong? Maybe the chocolate was too heavy? I did take a gamble with the chocolate, but I’ve used melted chocolate in soufflés before with great results, and I figured if a light and airy soufflé could handle it, so could popovers.  I am wondering if I should have gone more like a souffle route, and really increased the egg content to help lighten up the texture a bit.  Maybe separated the eggs and beat the whites separately to add in some fluff? Or maybe the issue is similar to my pâte à choux trials, where I needed more protein in the flour mix to help stabilize things. I think I really need to buy some sorghum, millet, and brown rice flours, as well as some very finely ground almond flour and try again before giving up completely on popovers.


Be sure to check out all the other links from this month’s participants – many were much more successful than I!

Brooke | B & the boy! | Chocolate & Sweet Potato Popovers
Charissa | Zest Bakery | Lemon Vanilla Popovers with Minnesota Raspberries
Claire | My Gluten free home | Chai Popovers
Erin | Sensitive Epicure | Popovers
Ginger Bardenhagen | chive and black pepper; toasted onion and aleppo pepper
gretchen  |  kumquat | strawberry cream cheese popovers
Heather | Discovering the Extraordinary | Basic Popovers
Jenn | Jenn Cuisine | Chocolate Popovers
Jonathan  |  The Canary Files | Cinnamon & Star Anise Popovers
Mary Fran | FrannyCakes | Gluten-Free Honey Coconut Popovers 
Morri  |  Meals With Morri | Little Bitty Popover Bites
Mrs. R | Honey from Flinty Rocks | GF DF Popovers
Rachel | The Crispy Cook | Corny Popovers
TR | No One Likes Crumbley Cookies | Sweet Cherry Popovers


Rachel @ The Crispy Cook February 1, 2012 at 3:17 pm

Chocolate popovers rolled in butter and sugar sound decadently good. I had a few problems with my flopover project too. I think a special popover pan really must help.

Jenn February 1, 2012 at 6:26 pm

Thanks! Yeah I have no idea where to find a popover pan, so muffin pan it was…

Rosa February 1, 2012 at 4:08 pm

They look fantastic! I love how the popovers are coated in sugar.



Jenn February 1, 2012 at 6:26 pm

Thanks Rosa!

Brian @ A Thought For Food February 1, 2012 at 4:17 pm

Hmmmmm… it could be the chocolate. Nevertheless, they look delicious!

Jenn February 1, 2012 at 6:26 pm

Maybe… thanks Brian!

Caneel February 1, 2012 at 5:20 pm

Well, they look delicious regardless. Oh.Yum! I’ve never tried chocolate popovers – but I want to now!

Jenn February 1, 2012 at 6:27 pm

Thanks Caneel!

Charissa (zest bakery) February 1, 2012 at 5:45 pm

I think it is the chocolate. My second version which only used 20 g of cocoa came out shorter than their lemon and vanilla sibling. I suspect the cocoa/chocolate is denser and hinders the popovers from fulfilling their popover destiny.

But I’d still eat those. :)

Jenn February 1, 2012 at 6:27 pm

Hmm… interesting! Maybe I should try an unchocolately version next time…

Morri February 1, 2012 at 6:15 pm

Jenn –

Regardless if they didn’t turn out like you wanted, I think they look absolutely delish! You have such a way around the kitchen (and the camera).

I mentioned in my post the steaming method and it worked wonders! That, and adding the remaining butter into the batter also helped blow them up and hollow them out.

Anyway, I hope you continue doing what you do best and try popovers again.

<3 M.

Jenn February 1, 2012 at 6:28 pm

Thanks Morri – I will have to try your method and see how it goes.

art and lemons February 1, 2012 at 7:34 pm

My first thought is the same as yours, to increase the number of eggs and use the souffle technique. They look amazing anyway!

Jenn February 1, 2012 at 9:06 pm

Thanks! Yeah I think I will try that next time :)

~Mrs. R February 1, 2012 at 7:56 pm

These look great! I did take the more eggs route and found success with that. I think the egg gives it the protein structure and the added moisture so the steam will make them rise up and stand tall!

And I got my antique Griswold cast iron popover pan off of eBay… I love my little pan. :-)

Jenn February 1, 2012 at 9:06 pm

Thanks so much for hosting! And I would love a pretty antique popover pan, how cool :)

Ginger February 1, 2012 at 11:11 pm

The photo is beautiful! I love that you have a tag called flops :) I think I needed less egg in mine and a bit more fat, although my extra yolk should have added some fat. I am still working on that protein to starch ratio in my flour mix. I thought I might try my next batch using King Arthur Flour mix and see how that compares to the mixes I formulated. If you need someone to send you sorghum or millet flours from the states, let me know. I see a lot of pea protein flour used in European GF products and Canadian and always wonder how I can get my hands on that.

Jenn February 2, 2012 at 9:44 pm

Thanks so much Ginger! I believe I can order flours from iherb and ship to here – as for pea protein flours, I have besan that I get from an Indian market, it’s chickpea flour… is that the same thing?

Ginger February 3, 2012 at 12:55 am

chick pea flour and besan are the same thing and the worst tasting raw product around! I thought maybe they were using some other legume protein. I have some navy bean flour I am experimenting with in a sourdough loaf today.

Jenn February 3, 2012 at 3:12 am

It is entirely possible you are referring to some pea protein flour that should be accessible in Europe that I have not found… I agree for the most part about besan, though it does have its uses – I find it fries up rather well, so don’t mind using it in batter coatings etc. for fried foods. Else, if I use it I try to keep it below 20% of my flour mix…

Amy February 2, 2012 at 12:30 am

Yum! One of these would go down very nicely with a cup of tea.

Jenn February 2, 2012 at 9:47 pm


Nicole, RD February 2, 2012 at 3:56 am

Well they LOOK delicious! :)

Jenn February 2, 2012 at 9:47 pm

Thanks Nicole!

mary fran February 2, 2012 at 4:30 am

Well, they look beautiful! I love that you also found David Lebovitz’s post about popovers like doughnuts inspiring :)

I would go with a starchier blend next time….no more than 50% grains…but, I am sure they were delicious muffins!

Jenn February 2, 2012 at 9:48 pm

Thanks – yeah I think that is something else I need to think about too…

beth@kitchenminions February 2, 2012 at 3:25 pm

I’ve made gluten popovers and I think that they are finicky, sometimes they are perfect and sometimes they are dense. Yours are gorgeous!

Jenn February 2, 2012 at 9:52 pm

Thank you!

Charlie February 2, 2012 at 4:58 pm

Hi Jenn:
I would say that popovers are more like yorkshire pudding.

You really don’t need a special pan. I have used a muffin tin with good results.

A popover tin would be more on the line of a muffin top tin.

I hope this helps.


Jenn February 2, 2012 at 9:49 pm

glad to know my pan should be ok!

Maureen February 3, 2012 at 9:43 am

Popping or not, these look fantastic!

Jenn February 3, 2012 at 8:52 pm

Thanks Maureen!

Kristen February 3, 2012 at 3:35 pm

I just recently went gluten free and am so glad to have found your blog! Baking with gf flours is scaring me like nothing else ever has. The whole chemistry is so different than regular baking. It’s no wonder that things don’t always go as planned. As it is, though, your results look mouth watering.

Jenn February 3, 2012 at 8:54 pm

Thanks so much! GF baking is different, which is why I’m having so much fun with the ratio rally – if you want to learn and explore more in GF baking, I definitely encourage you to join!

Jonathan February 5, 2012 at 7:12 am

Thank you so much for your support and encouragement during this challenge, Jenn. Just like Erin said, this is not for the faint of heart (nor the obsessive compulsive, as it turns out). :) But alas, learning is the most important thing at the end of the day and you definitely helped anyone reading your post to do that (as well as making their mouth water with your beautiful photography). Brava for persevering!

Jenn February 5, 2012 at 12:30 pm

Thanks Jonathan – and yes, that is my favorite part about the gluten free ratio rally – it’s always a learning process, and no matter what my outcome, each experience has helped to make me a better cook/baker :)

InTolerantChef February 6, 2012 at 1:15 am

Well popped up or not, these sure look amazing!

Terra February 7, 2012 at 4:21 am

They still look gorgeous, love how you rolled them in sugar. I wish I had a thought for the reason your popovers did not come out, but I have never made popovers. On my to-do list though! Hugs, Terra

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