What is a Popover Pan? + How to Use It!

A popover pan is used to make popovers, a delicious light roll made from egg batter. These pans are designed specifically to convey heat directly to the mixture.

In this article, we will cover all that you need to know about the Pop-over pans.

What is a Popover Pan?

It is quite similar to how you can make a Yorkshire pudding. However, popover pans comprise tall and narrow cups, which give it its distinct shape.

This shape generates steam that allows the popover to puff up and become hollow from the inside.

You can stuff it with anything you want to make the roll sweet or savory. Many popover pans feature cups welded to a wire rack.

This design allows air and heat to circulate the tins. Most of them are made from steel or aluminum, but the best ones are made from cast iron.

If you’re looking to buy a popover pan, we recommend checking out the Fox Run Carbon Steel Mini Popover pans. You can get the 12 cups or 6 cups model. It is coated with non-stick which makes sure the pop-over is cooked properly and doesn’t get stuck.

Popover Pan vs. Muffin Pan

Besides differences in appearance, popover pans have deeper and steeper cups compared to muffin pans. The feature allows the popovers to achieve a height that the rolls cannot achieve in the latter.

It is one of the main reasons why connoisseurs only use pans specifically made to bake popovers. This makes sure that you get light, airy puffed, golden brown popovers.

That is not to say that you cannot use a muffin pan to make these rolls. The popovers will still taste amazing.

However, they will not be as round and puffy as they should be. Stuffing them will become a problem as well. If you plan on making popovers regularly, get a real popover pan.

How To Choose the Best Popover Pan

Not any pan will do. The best popover pans have the following characteristics:

  • A nonstick surface.
  • Deep and steep muffin cups to ensure puffiness.
  • They are a bit on the heavy side.
  • Made of aluminized steel or cast iron.

Beware of sellers that promote muffin tins as popover pans. Since these two look similar, you can get duped easily.

You will only find out when your popovers come out flat.

Top Tips for Making Fantastic Popovers

Making popovers may seem simple, but it is an art form. They can either turn out excellent or flat, depending on the conditions surrounding the baking process.

The good news is that you can perfect popovers just by following a few simple tips.

Tip #1 – Make Sure the Batter Is Hydrated/Thin

Believe it or not, you don’t need any leavening agent (such as baking soda/powder) to make popovers ‘pop.’ The steam the dough generates should be enough to make the rolls puff up.

To ensure this, make sure your batter is thin.

To make the batter thin, make sure it has enough liquid to produce the steam needed for the perfect pops.

However, the popovers can deflate later if the liquid and dough amounts are not synchronized. This is called hydration. Yeast dough has a hydration level of about 62%, which means the liquid weighs 62% more than the flour.

A typical popover batter has to have a hydration level of 250% or more. It has to be as runny as possible to generate enough steam to make the rolls puff up.

Tip #2 – Use All-Purpose Flour Only

To make the popovers pop, you need to trap the steam the batter generates. This is where eggs and all-purpose flour prove invaluable.

The gluten in the flour and the protein from the eggs react to create a structure that traps steam. It also prevents the popovers from rupturing.

Since popovers are more air than batter, using a cake flour that is low in protein should make sense. However, that is not the case when it comes to making fluffy popovers.

The rolls are mostly air and have a thin crust that maintains their voluminous proportions. The crust has to be tough and flexible enough to stretch without breaking and without developing leaks later.

Since all-purpose flour has a medium protein level of about 11.7%, it can create these conditions. In other words, the flour can ensure the popovers are airy and light without rupturing.

Tip #3 – Preheat your oven really well

Your popovers will puff up nicely with steam only if the oven is preheated thoroughly. Acquiring the correct temperature is essential at this point.

A general rule of thumb is to make the oven as hot as possible before popping the pan inside.

It makes sense if you think about it. The hotter the oven is, the faster the liquid in the batter will turn into steam. It has to happen before the crust sets. Otherwise, your rolls may rupture or end up looking pale.

The ideal preheating temperature for baking the rolls is 450°F. The heat is hot enough to make the popovers swell. Plus, it is not hot enough to burn them before they are baked through.

Do not go on what your oven tells you. Most ovens get preheated sufficiently before the recommended time.

Place an oven thermometer inside to determine when the temperature is just right. If you don’t have one, preheat the oven for half an hour before placing the popover pan inside.

Tip #4 – Serve Popovers Fresh Out of The Oven

Popovers are light and airy. That means the rolls can deflate fast once they are out of the oven. The steam starts to escape, so your popovers can become tough if left out too long.

To prevent this, serve the rolls immediately after they are done baking. Don’t bake them a day before for a party.

Serve them to guests straight from the oven warm and piping hot. If you warm the rolls again, you will lose the crust. In other words, your popovers will turn dry and chewy. No one enjoys dry rolls!

You can serve the rolls four or five hours after taking them out of the oven.

However, while they will be edible, you won’t enjoy them as much. The popovers will not be soft from the inside. Some bakers make a hole in their popovers to allow the steam to escape.

They then place them in the oven again for a few minutes to prevent the rolls from getting soggy. However, if you make them correctly, you can skip this step.

Last-minute advice

Make sure you have at least two popover pans. People fall in love with these rolls, after all. The rolls will disappear fast once served.

Make several batches to keep guests happy. You can use the same batter to make Yorkshire pudding with as well.

Plus, you can use any muffin pan as long as you have practice, and the batter is smooth enough.

Best Popover Recipe

Here is a tried-and-tested popover recipe you can practice with at home:

Ingredients

  • 2 medium or large eggs
  • 1 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 5 tablespoons of melted butter
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1 teaspoon of fresh thyme

Preparation

  1. As mentioned in the tips, preheat your oven to about 450°F.
  2. Brush the popover pan cups with butter and place it in the preheated oven. That way, your rolls will not stick to the pan.
  3. In a large bowl, make the batter by beating the eggs, milk, a tablespoon of butter, the salt, and the sugar. Add flour gradually to prevent clumping and add thyme as well. The batter should be completely smooth (it will look like a pancake batter).
  4. Take out the popover pan from the oven and fill the cups with the batter about halfway. There should be enough space to allow your rolls to rise or pop over the pan.
  5. Place the pan back in the oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes.
  6. Reduce the heat to 350°F and wait for 15 minutes more. During this time, the popovers should start to puff up with steam and attain a crust. Do not open the oven till the time is up and the rolls look ready! The oven will cool down, and the steam will escape, thus ruining your popovers.
  7. Remove from the pan and serve piping hot immediately.

Pro Tip: In case the popovers are getting dark, you can cover the popover pan with a baking sheet to shield it from direct heat

If you use batter from the fridge, allow it to come to room temperature first. Your popovers will rise better. The eggs should be at this temperature as well.

Plus, if you leave a cup empty, fill it with half full of water. The cup will not get damaged then.

Making popovers is a skill that only practice can perfect. You might ruin some in the beginning. But, don’t allow those failures to get you down.

Use what you learn from each batch to improve the next one. You will be making puffy and delicate popovers in no time!

Top each roll with jam, maple syrup, butter, or even meat and cheese. Come up with different varieties of your own and surprise your guests each time!

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