Popovers - A gluten free alternative

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.

Popover Pan, Image by Peter Willi Buck

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.

Popovers - A gluten free alternative

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.

Popovers - A gluten free alternative

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.

Popovers - A gluten free alternative

This is such a classic and simple recipe that we are sure many of you will want to try it out for yourselves.


25 thoughts on “Popovers

  1. I love reading about other bakers who need to tweak recipes to fit in with their needs…it is so interesting to see what people come up with and hear about why this or that does or does not work, etc. I learn a lot…and I learned a lot from this post. It was nice hearing about your family in Germany. I think they look great…and the herbs in them are stellar. Nice job!

    1. Coming from generations of enthusiastic “gluten” bakers, it is an interesting challenge developing so many of those family recipes into gluten free ones. Glad you enjoyed reading our post and sharing in our story.

    1. Thanks for stopping by. We used the TWD’s recipe from Baking with Julia, just like everybody else – merely substituting our gluten free flour blend. This process sometimes requires several takes to get it just right. Yes, we did check out Lisa’s blog and it is beautiful.

  2. Yours are so pretty and I like the additional of the herbs. I loved your childhood story and my eye caught the word Swabian – I just finished reading the first two Hangman’s Daughter books and that’s a word I’d never come across before reading those books, and now your blog!

  3. So glad you could get these to work for you! My son was on a GF/CF diet for 2 1/2 years and I know exactly what you mean when you say that you can’t always replicate the flavor and texture of gluten baking without gluten. They look delicious.

    1. We loved this recipe but will continue to tweak it until it looks just right. We try not to use too much starch in our recipes. However, this recipe might have benefited from adding a little more. Thanks for visiting.

  4. I’m impressed with your efforts to bake food that is agreeable to your family. Good job, I applaud your work in the kitchen. I learned a lot reading your post. Way to go. I do love your Mom’s earthenware pan–I’d love one!

  5. YUM, popovers!! 🙂 My name is Cindy and I blog over at Vegetarianmamma.com I wanted to invite you to link up your recipe at our Gluten Free Fridays Recipe Link up party! It happens every Friday and we’d love to have you join us with some of your awesome recipes! You can find this week’s link up here: http://vegetarianmamma.com/gluten-free-fridays-recipe-party-2/
    Also be sure to link up your blog on our Gluten Free Bloggers directory. You can reach the directory by clicking the “glutenfree bloggers” tab on our blog! Thanks, Cindy 🙂

    1. Hi Cindy, thank you so much for the invitation. We linked back to our site on your gluten free bloggers and Friday’s recipe links. It is great that you are providing such a wonderful service to the gluten free community and we would love to be a part of it. Looking forward to posting. Thanks again.

  6. Both your gf versions of the Popovers look wonderful, I am sure that this recipe was quite a challenge and I am amazed, as all others, at your creativity! P.S.: You are absolutely correct with the “Pfitzauf”, it had not occurred to me but Popovers look a lot like them and the recipe is quite similar too.

    Have a wonderfulf weekend! Greetings from sunny Bonn!

  7. Thanks for linking up at our Gluten Free Fridays recipe party! I have tweeted and pinned your entry to our Gluten Free Fridays board on Pinterest! 🙂 YAY! Thanks for helping us build a wonderful Gluten Free Community! Its great to connect! See you next Friday! Cindy from vegetarianmamma.com

  8. I’m impressed with the height you got for these! No mean feat for gluten-free baking. The centres look really luscious, too.

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