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Today, I was inspired to make popovers.

I followed this recipe, "Foolproof Popovers" but substituted the white flour with whole wheat white flour.

As for the rest of the directions, I carefully followed all the details: melting the butter, brushing it and preheating the the muffin pan, and heating the milk up, etc.

What would cause popovers to not rise in the oven? Would it be because of the whole wheat white flour. Is it just not possible to use whole white wheat flour?

I did try doing a search and reviewed this answer: What causes popovers to rise so much?

This one explains why they rise but don't give much into troubleshooting the issue.

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It is very nice to see a recipe troubleshooting question that includes the recipe, the symptoms, and signs of basic research. –  SAJ14SAJ Nov 7 '13 at 1:18
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3 Answers 3

There are two major possible causes that seem likely:

  • The oven was not hot enough. Popovers require a fast rise, so that they can expand from the steam before the outside sets.

  • The whole wheat flour may have interrupted the gluten strands (the bran acts like a barrier physically interrupting the gluten strands, and under agitation can be sharp enough to cut them), making for a weaker overall structure, perhaps causing either failure to rise or collapse.

I would suggest validating your oven temperature with an oven thermometer (if you have made traditional pop-overs, you are already validated in that sense).

If it is not the oven temperature, try the recipe with the called for flour. If that works, you will know that it is the whole wheat flour.

Baking Bites suggests using white whole wheat flour and a ratio of 3 to 1 all purpose to white whole wheat; I would suggest trying a combination of 3/4 bread flour (higher gluten levels than all purpose) and 1/4 whole wheat, and seeing how that works.

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I agree with the "fast rise" requirement. An additional suggestion: it might have been not the oven, but your muffin tin.

A hot oven is not enough for pop overs, you need well preheated containers. Originally, you would use iron ones, not just a muffin tin. If you do have to go with the tin, choose a metal one, the ones with silicone cups just don't hold enough thermal energy to give to the dough.

Be generous with the fat. It is not only the tin which makes them rise well; being dropped in sizzling hot fat does them good. The pastry brush suggestion doesn't sound too well; it might work, but you are on the safe side if you melt a bit of lard in each cup. It is even better to get it heated on the stove, it gets hotter than in the oven.

And a different suggestion: The temperature of the batter is important too. They tell you to use warm ingredients, and that is good. Too cold and you won't get the popovers to steam internally quickly enough. But be aware that you shouldn't make it too hot. If your milk and/or butter is hot enough to cook the eggs while mixing, the batter won't rise. Best to use all warm ingredients in the 40-50 degrees celsius (100-120 fahrenheit) range.

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I got pretty good at other types of popovers that are cooked in larger pans (yorkshire pudding and pfannkuchen) ... and had lots of failures in the process.

I actually found that the recommendation of going into a massively hot oven for the fast oven spring did not give me the best rise. I actually got a better rise from starting in a moderate (I think it was 300°F) oven, then cranking it up once the batter was in (to 450-500°F).

This actually gives you the characteristic look of the types of popovers that I was doing, where the puffing up comes more from the sides than the center.

I know this goes against most recommendations for popovers, and the only explanation that I can come up with for it is that I'm warming the batter to closer to the boiling point before giving it the really high heat. Unfortunately, it's been well over a year since I had my pancake obsession, and I've since come to suspect that I have a gluten intollerance, so I haven't cooked most pancake-like items in quite some time.

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