The Reason Your Popovers Turned Out Dense

Everyone has that simple, but absolutely delicious recipe they always serve at family gatherings or dinners. For some, it's their grandma's mac and cheese recipe, for others it's an easy-to-make green bean casserole recipe, but if you grew up in the New England region of the United States, odds are you, or someone you know, has perfected their popover recipe. Maybe they are stuffed with gruyere or topped with some sweet seasonal jam. But either way, they are the perfect side of bread to have on hand at any meal and at any time of the day.

For those of you who didn't snack on the stuff growing up, popovers are a Northeastern specialty made from simple ingredients for the base: flour, eggs, milk, and butter (and whatever you like for taste whether it be salt or some other seasoning), per the Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts. The blog says that popovers are just an Americanized version of the British Yorkshire pudding, which has a similar shape and ingredient list. However, U.S. popovers are made with butter in place of beef fat. 

It is relatively easy to make some old-fashioned popovers. But, as with all recipes, there are ways to bungle them up. For instance, sometimes the dish never manages to "pop" up and will fall flat and dense if the batter is not prepared properly.

Aim for tall and puffy, not flat and dense

The whole point of a popover is that the buttery bread is meant to rise in the oven, creating a cute, fluffy and golden-colored bun with a soft, almost custard-like center and flaky edges. According to Belly Full, a popover is a bread roll reliant on an egg batter and the power of butter. There are special popover pans made specifically for this kind of bake shaped into deep pockets so the batter has plenty of space to rise upward. But not all popovers end up popping as we hope.

King Arthur Baking says that there are a few ways your popover could go wrong. First, you must use all-purpose flour because it has a solid gluten structure to capture all the steam. Secondly, you must make sure to preheat your oven because the hotter the oven, the higher the popovers. The most important rule, however, is the consistency of the batter. To avoid your New England-style popovers becoming dense, your batter needs to be thin.

SF Gate claims that if your bakes are flat and dense, rather than tall and puffy, you must adjust your ingredient ratios. Usually, the batter consists of a simple egg, milk, and flour mix but if you add too much flour, the batter will be too dense and your popovers won't have the power to rise.