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Ask Martha

Underbaking can deflate your popovers

Marilynn K. Yee/The New York Times

Q. Why do my popovers deflate when I take them out of the oven? How can I prevent this problem?

A. If your popovers lose volume when they come out of the oven, they are probably underbaked. When these airy baked goods aren’t cooked enough, too much steam stays trapped inside. That moisture condenses once they’re removed from the oven, causing them to collapse. The perfect popover, however, is easy to master.

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First, make sure your ingredients are at room temperature. To make one dozen popovers, preheat your oven to 450 degrees, and grease two standard six-cup popover pans with unsalted butter. It’s best to use a tulip-shaped popover pan because it allows the hot air in the oven to circulate entirely around each popover, and the lipped rim helps the popover batter form a large crust dome, or top. If you don’t have a popover pan, use a large 12-cup muffin tin.

Popover pans must be piping hot before you pour batter into them. So place the oiled pans on a rimmed baking sheet, and heat them in the oven for 20 minutes. Remove the pans from the oven and pour in the room-temperature batter, filing each cup two-thirds full. Bake for 15 minutes, and resist the urge to open the oven door while baking, since that will lower the temperature. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees, and continue to bake the popovers until they are well browned and crusty, about 20 minutes more.

Finally, remove the popovers from the oven to cool, invert them to unmold, and transfer them to a bowl lined with a clean kitchen towel. An additional trick for keeping popovers crisp is to gently poke a hole in the side of each one with a sharp knife when you remove it from the pan to allow steam to escape without deflating the crust dome. For our popover recipe, visit www.marthastewart.com/popovers.

Q. What is the best way to remove stubborn, stuck-on stains from vintage jadeite bakeware?

A. Jadeite, a sturdy milky-green molded glass, was commonly used in the 1940s and ’50s. it can withstand the extreme heat of an oven or a stove and was therefore quite popular in homemakers’ kitchens. Some vintage jadeite is worth a great deal today. And with good care, even if you’re using the bakeware rather than just collecting and admiring it, your vintage items should stay in good condition.

The first rule of caring for jadeite — or any glassware — is to wash it by hand. As tempting as it may be to use the dishwasher, the hot water and detergent inside can etch the jadeite’s surface, causing permanent damage. While hand-washing, avoid abrasive cleaners or sponges; they’ll remove the stain but will also scratch the glass. Instead, to tackle a tenacious stain, first soak the glassware in hot, soapy water overnight. If that doesn’t work, scrub the soaked stain with a soft sponge.

If the stain still won’t go away, apply a nonabrasive cleaning compound, such as a plant-based glass cleaner or a home brew of water with either vinegar or ammonia. Thoroughly rinse your bakeware, and then dry it with a clean, soft cloth.

Professional conservators use a solution containing lye (sodium hydroxide) to chemically break down stains on jadeite. But lye is highly corrosive and not ideal for cleaning containers that touch food. Any kind of chemical cleaning must be followed by thorough rinsing with distilled water.

Adapted from Martha Stewart Living.

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