May 9, 2012

Dutch baby pancake breakfast

Mother's Day is coming up this weekend!  When I think of Mother's Day, I think of sunshine and breakfast in bed or a nice brunch.  There's no right or wrong way to celebrate but for me, food is love and the act of sitting down together to share a nice meal is as good as it gets.  So where there's a celebration, I'll always bring food into the picture.
So may I suggest making a special breakfast for your Mother's Day celebration?  I thought a Dutch baby pancake was in order.  This was my first Dutch baby; I had never tasted one until now.  My sister once described having one while on vacation somewhere and how delicious it was.  That got my attention because although my sister and I share a love (a healthy obsession, really) of food, she's really not a big sweets person so it's unlike her to wax poetic about pancakes or anything remotely sweet.  But I never tried making one because I always thought you needed a cast-iron skillet and a blender to do it - both things I do not have.  Well, I did a little research and realized I could use my nonstick skillet and whip the batter up in my food processor - even by hand with a whisk.  Things are often not as complicated as we make them out to be.
So this past Sunday, I did a little Dutch baby pancake experiment and discovered a delicious alternative to my pancake breakfasts.  A cross between a popover, a pancake, an omelet, and even a souffle or thick crepe, the Dutch baby is theatrical enough for a special occasion but simple enough for any weekend morning.  It puffs and rises rather theatrically in the oven but deflates quickly (as in ten seconds quickly) into something like a pancake that's slightly crisp at the corners but moist, eggy, and a little sweet and buttery in the center.
Traditionally, the Dutch baby (or German pancake) is served with lemon juice and a dusting of powdered sugar.  We tried it that way and also with maple syrup and even Nutella.  All were good though we preferred maple syrup best.  I'm really thrilled that I tried this and I know I'd be happy to see it on my breakfast tray come Mother's Day.  And don't forget Father's Day; I think dads would love this (my husband did)!
For other varieties, I've seen smaller, individual-size Dutch babies, those served with fresh berries on top, maybe with some lemon zest added into the batter.  I think you could even dial down the sugar in the recipe and go a more savory route, using it as a base for, say, some cooked spinach and mushrooms.  I think it's adaptable to many possibilities.

Most of the time, I see something I want to make and the recipe comes from a cookbook or some other trusted source and I go with it.  Then there are other times when I know what I want to make and I go looking for a good recipe.  This was the case with the Dutch baby pancake.  I started looking at recipes and began wondering about the discrepancies.  For instance, two recipes both use 3 eggs but why does one have more flour or milk than the other - which is "right"?  So long story short, this recipe I ultimately used is adapted from Martha Stewart (one of the first places I'll start in my recipe search) but reflects adjustments I made after looking at a number of other recipes.  I think the end result worked out quite well.

The Dutch baby pancake is actually pretty easy to put together.  The batter can be whipped up in a blender - that's probably the ideal way to get a smooth batter quickly - but it's easily done in a food processor or even by hand.  In my case, I used my food processor. 

Start by placing half a cup of flour, 3 tablespoons sugar, and a 1/4 teaspoon of salt in the food processor to pulse together.  Add 3 eggs, 1/2 cup of milk, and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract and process until the mixture is smooth and lump-free, scraping down the sides of the bowl once.

The batter should be frothy.  I transferred the batter to a bowl with a spout and let it stand for about 20-30 minutes.  I understand this gives the flour a chance to absorb the liquid. 

If you don't have a blender or a food processor, I don't see why you couldn't do the same with a whisk, by hand.  Just whisk the dry ingredients together in a large bowl before making a well in the center.  Add the eggs, milk, and vanilla to the well, whisking to break up the eggs and combine with the milk, then work outwards to whisk the whole thing together.  Whisk the mixture together vigorously until there are no lumps and the batter is frothy. 

Heat the oven to 425 degrees.  Put 2 tablespoons of butter into a 10-inch skillet (ideally, cast-iron but I just used my non-stick skillet) and place it into the hot degree oven until the butter is melted.  With oven mitts, carefully take the hot skillet out of the oven and pour the batter in.
Place it immediately back into the oven to bake for about 20 minutes.  Here's where the magic happens.  I plopped my self in front of the oven and watched the Dutch baby slowly rise and puff up.  It's done when the sides rise up (as you can see, it rose up quite high) and the sides are browned.
Can you believe this (Dutch) baby!
Remove the Dutch baby from the oven and quickly turn it out onto a plate and serve (or bring it right to the table and serve from your cast-iron skillet)!  If you're looking for maximum effect, have your dining partners gathered around because the Dutch baby pancake deflates literally seconds out of the oven.  Regardless though, it is quite delicious, with a slightly crisp outer fringe and an eggy and moist center.
Slice the Dutch baby pancake into wedges.  Enjoy it with maple syrup, a dusting of powdered sugar and lemon juice, berries, Nutella, or whatever topping you like.  A little bacon works too.  I know I'll be making these babies again one morning soon!


Dutch Baby Pancake
Adapted from Martha Stewart

- One 10-inch pancake; Serves 3 to 4 -

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1/2 cup whole milk, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Place flour, sugar, and salt into the bowl of the food processor and pulse to combine.  Add eggs, milk, and vanilla extract.  Process until mixture is smooth and frothy, scraping down the sides of the bowl once.  (This can also be done in a blender or even by hand with a whisk.) 

Transfer the batter to an easy-to-pour bowl and let stand for 20 minutes or so to allow the flour to absorb the liquid.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Put the butter into a 10-inch cast-iron or other skillet and place it into the heated oven to melt.  Once the butter is melted, use oven mitts and carefully remove the hot skillet from the oven.  Pour the batter into the skillet and return it to the oven to bake for approximately 20 minutes, or until the pancake rises and puffs, and is lightly browned around the edges.

Carefully remove the pancake from the oven, transfer the pancake to a serving plate (or serve right from the cast-iron skillet, if using that), and serve immediately.  The pancake will deflate within seconds out of the oven.

Serving suggestions:  Dutch baby pancakes are traditionally served with freshly squeezed lemon juice and a dusting of confectioners' sugar.  My family and I like maple syrup with it.  You could also top it with berries, spread some Nutella on top, or use whatever topping you enjoy.

1 comment:

  1. if my breakfast is like that everyday, i will never hesitate to wake up!:D



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