High Altitude Popovers 3500 ft Rocky Mtn Colorado
Well the mystery of the high altitude popover was solved in the last two
week session of creating a new dessert!
Many of you at altitude might have tried to make a popover roll with the
result being a more hockey puck like product, than popover product. At
first I thought this would be a straight forward simple piece of work to
complete the changes needed. But the wide variety of products available
in the North American market made accepting certain things as standards
Popover is a really nice roll that is steam risen and sets with a hollow
center. I want to create a dessert around the popover roll for a
catering we are doing this month. Important client with long term cash
streams if we pull off a spectacular display.
Back to the popover:
Altitude presents several problems all related to air pressure and
boiling points when trying to create the popover. However as we will see
other things affect the popover as well, but they have been corrected in
So after much (like 12 tries I have a recipe that finally produces
popovers every time)
First go to three large eggs above 3500 feet in altitude
The addition of the third egg finally allowed consistent popover
performance. At two eggs sometimes it would work, sometimes it would
make little pucks resembling rubber cement after it has cured. Large
eggs is important, not extra large and not medium but large.
Since we are international in our blog I have also laid it out in weight
for you. Stir the egg and then weigh out the called for amounts.
3 large eggs equals 6.5 ounces or 183.5 grams
Second you must read the protein rating on the flour bag, you really
want to have 4g protein in the flour, not 3g and definitely not 2.6g
this really makes a difference, but for consistent no fail popovers I
found the 4g flour had to be in the recipe. I used King Author bread
flour. I also think most flours listed as "bread flour" are 4g
2.6g flour in the USA often says "great for biscuits" on it. Biscuits
maybe, but popovers no way!
The fact we have readers around the world it works out this way in
1 cup flour equals 6.5 ounces or 183 grams
salt is always 1/2 tsp. My scale did not go to a fine enough resolution
to weigh it. Lets call it two pinches as this does not have as great an
effect on the outcome as the eggs and flour.
Milk is also a problem, in that it has many forms, whole, 2 percent, 1
percent, skim, and a whole host of specialty milks. I used three
different kinds of milk. I found if we use weight and not measure we get
the best results (as with most baking weight is the equalizer) But since
a lot of people don't have a scale I have worked it out as follows:
1 1/4 cup of milk will work with any type of milk always. But for best
results weigh the milk you should have 10 3/4 ounces or 307g, if you
weigh it you can use any milk you want, the exception being things that
are named milk but not milk, buttermilk is one of the examples. You can
use buttermilk and similar milk based products, you just have to start
with 1/2 cup of the and dilute up to weight with water. Same with any of
the over heavy milks, cream, half and half, etc.
Last the fat, butter, oil, animal grease all work. I use one tablespoon
equals 1/4 ounce of weight which equals 10g of fat.
This is important as you start to create different type of popovers,
when using bacon grease for example I had to switch to weight as the
bacon crease has a higher density than did the olive oil or butter.
1 tbsp of olive oil equals 1/4 ounce or 10g
Last you must put this together in the correct order or it will fail to
So mix all the wet ingredients together, then add the salt to the wet,
then add the flour, whisk the flour in until combined but not over
worked into something real smooth.
Fill the mini-popover pan with 1/3 cup of batter (just over half way)
The large pop over pan with 2/3 cup of batter and if you are using a
muffin pan fill them a scant over half way. These fill amounts are as
important as the rest of the recipe.
The oven at altitude must be 400F or you will not get the correct
result. And the oven must be the correct equipment, the oven must be a
conventional type heat not a convection type heat. Convection ovens will
not produce a popover most times at altitude. They produce an occasional
correct roll at best. So conventional oven at 400F.
Don't open the oven for 18 minutes. Just don't do it, ruins the roll as
the steam drops and the structure collapses and once it collapses the
set will not recover.
Spray the popover pan or muffin pan with release. Pam vegetable spray is
a good one, plus I also used the straight Crisco spray, both worked. I
don't use the butter flavored sprays as they leave a kind of nasty
coating on my pans.
Now you will read about preheating the pan in places on the internet,
and a bunch of crap like that, not required, IMACO this is from people
at home trying to find ways to make this thing work without
understanding the structural dynamics of baking. Hence the found ways
that sort of make the New England recipes work, but not really, but
close enough that they could taste the homeland of New England.
Preheat pan, Don't need to do it. Not necessary, using this recipe they
will pop every time unless you open the oven like an idiot after being
told not to do so! (I opened in a couple times in the name of science,
not being an idiot, at least that is the story I am sticking to!)
After 18 minutes you can open the oven and look at them, they will be
formed very nicely. Take a birds beak paring knife and make a small slit
in each one to let steam escape. Close the oven and bake an additional
14 minutes or until they are the crispness you like in a roll.
Serve with butter and watch them disappear.
So to summarize
3 large eggs, 6.5 ounces or 183g
1 1/4 cups milk, 10 3/4 ounces or 307g
1 tbsp oil or butter, 1/4 ounce or 10g
1 cup flour, 6.5 ounces or 183g
1/2 tsp salt, two pinches
400F degree oven
oiled muffin cups, or popover pan
No peeking for first 18 minutes
And you should be able to make the wonderful popover at altitude above
3500 feet. All testing was done at 4750 feet ASL.
More on the dessert popover after next weeks catering featuring its
introduction to the world!
'Til we talk again, take the time to make these spectacularly easy
wonderful tasting roll for your next dinner.
Chef Bob Ballantyne
The Cowboy and The Rose Catering
Grand Junction, Colorado, USA