Since living gluten free, popovers are not a recipe we have made very often. Baking anything gluten free presents enough challenges, but baking without the use of baking powder, or other leavening agents, seems daunting to say the least – if not downright impossible. Since Julia’s recipe does not call for any sugar, we felt more inclined to give this a try. Popovers actually reminded me of a dish I grew up with in Germany, called ‘Pfitzauf.’ It is a Swabian Southern German recipe prepared with a little sugar, and mostly served with a hot fruit compote. Many times my mother would make this on a Friday for lunch, after coming home from school – a perfect finish to the end of a school week. When setting aside the ingredients for this recipe and looking for an appropriate baking pan, I also recalled that my mother used some kind of an oven proof earthenware dish, looking somewhat like this image, courtesy wikipedia.
It would have been kind of fun baking this recipe using her baking pan, but the thousands of miles that separate us from my home town make that very difficult. We didn’t want to use our trusted old muffin pan, and, instead, went to our local Target store and found a popover pan by Nordic Ware, which is manufactured here in the USA.
By the way, today’s recipe is being hosted by two very talented bloggers: Paula of Vintage Kitchen Notes, who hails from Buenos Aires and Amy of Bake with Amy. Both also feature the original recipe by Julia and Marion Cunningham. If you already own the book “Baking with Julia,” by Dorie Greenspan, the recipe is on page 213.
As suggested in the recipe, all ingredients were at room temperature. We substituted the gluten flour for our own gluten free blend of tapioca and rice flour. Not knowing how this particular recipe would turn out gluten free, we decided to make two different batches, following the original recipe completely with the first batch (minus the gluten), and tweaking it slightly on the second go around, by adding a little bit of sweet rice flour, rice bran, baking powder, cheese and chives. In both batches, we substituted regular milk with coconut milk.
Given the depth of the popover pan, we were a little worried whether the batter would rise enough to even reach the top of the pan, but were pleasantly surprised when we discovered small little domes above each cup. For all of you gluten bakers, this seemingly tiny event may seem insignificant, but remember our recipe is completely devoid of all the usual gluten helpers that allow all baked goods to expand. We are trying hard not to be discouraged by all the other TWD participants’ magnificent ‘pillowy’, almost high rise like creations. While our primary goal when converting a recipe is always to recreate the flavor, texture and overall familiarity of a gluten recipe, we have learned to accept a certain amount of diminished height in the rising of certain specialty cakes and bread. Still overall, we were pretty impressed with how this recipe turned out. Having only prepared it two times, definitely warrants further tweaking and testing in the future. With our second batch, we already noticed, that the addition of a little baking powder allowed the batter to rise noticeably faster and higher than the first one. But we still need to experiment to see whether it was just due to the baking powder, or had something to do with the addition of cheese. We’ll keep you posted.
It would have been nice to serve this with a freshly made cherry compote, the way my mother used to prepare it, but cherries are not currently available locally. Instead, we tested our first batch by serving it still warm with a little mango jam. The second batch, being savory, will be an accompaniment to our dinner tonight. Naturally, we taste tested one and it was delicious, with a perfect blending of the herbs and the cheese.
This is such a classic and simple recipe that we are sure many of you will want to try it out for yourselves.