Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Dutch Baby Pancakes

I have been craving Dutch Baby Pancakes a lot lately. Maybe it’s partly because I’ve been missing the Junior Owens who are in the Netherlands this fall. My brother and his wife were both accepted by an artist residency program in Delft, and they’ve been given an apartment plus studio space for their use over these next months. As one who has lived in the same apartment for 11 years and has a hard time even making an emotional commitment to rearranging the furniture, I have particular admiration for Peter & Alison’s willingness to uproot themselves and pursue new creative journeys, wherever those opportunities may be. Luckily for them, they have an extremely adaptable child who seems to enjoy the adventure of it all, and Mac was particularly excited about this new chapter in Delft.

Since they were staying with me before flying to Amsterdam earlier this month, I wanted to make them a special send-off brunch before they went to the airport. Mac suggested making Dutch Baby pancakes, something we’ve had in our breakfast repertoire together for a few months now, and it seemed an appropriate and festive thing to have. The Little Chef got to show off his excellent egg-cracking skills as well as his ease with a paint brush as he coaxed melted butter up the sides of the pie plate. He was especially excited to make this for his dad, who had never tasted our version before.

Our family has had some version of Dutch Babies in our happy-food-memory files for a long time, starting from when Mom would make them on special occasions. Peter and I usually referred to them as “puffy pancakes”, which was an accurate description. I usually ordered the enormous baked German Pancake whenever we went to my favorite childhood place, the Original Pancake House in San Diego. Golden brown and totally out of control, it was an impressive sight as it arrived at the table, extending well beyond the scope of the plate both vertically and horizontally. Sometimes I took a more moderate approach by ordering their smaller version, the Dutch Baby. (Only sometimes.) Regardless of the size, I always embellished this oven-baked beauty with a double layer of freshly squeezed lemon juice and powdered sugar.

Whatever you want to call them, they are delicious and ridiculously easy to make. Seriously, even an 8-year-old can do it. Whip up a few eggs with milk and flour and a pinch of salt in the blender, pour the frothy mixture into a pan with melted butter in it, and let the oven do the rest of the work. That’s it. And in twenty minutes or so, you will have a soufflé-like creation emerging from your oven. It will start to deflate shortly upon removal from the oven, but who cares when it is liberally doused in fresh lemon juice with a snowfall of powdered sugar? Whether you are enjoying a quiet morning at home or are about to make a transatlantic flight on your way to Delft, these Dutch Babies are an excellent way to start your day.

Adpated from a recipe in A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg

Molly’s recipe calls for half-and-half, but I make these with whatever low-fat milk I have in the fridge, and I don’t feel that I’m missing anything. I’ve baked these in various-sized cake pans, but I usually use a Pyrex 9-inch pie plate when I make these. Just make sure to paint the melted butter up the sides of the pan so your pancake doesn’t stick when it rises and puffs up like crazy!

For the pancake:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 large eggs
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup milk
¼ teaspoon salt

To finish:
Fresh lemon wedges
Powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 425°. Put the butter in a 9-inch pie plate, and set it in the preheated oven for a few minutes. When the butter has melted, use a pastry brush to evenly coat the sides of the pie plate with it.

Combine the eggs, flour, milk and salt in a blender, and mix until well blended. Pour the egg mixture into the buttery pie plate and carefully place in the center of the oven. Bake for 18 to 25 minutes, until the mixture has set in the center and puffed up around the edges.

Remove the golden brown Dutch Baby from the oven and serve with plenty of freshly squeezed lemon and powdered sugar. (Trust me, don’t skimp on this step for it really does taste best with a lot of lemon and sugar!) Devour immediately.


Laura said...

Hi Louise!

Jeff & I just made your Dutch Baby Pancakes. They are delicious! Love your suggestion of using lemon and powdered sugar at the end. Really gives it a fresh flavor! Thanks for sharing the recipe and story. Always love reading your blog.

Take care,
Laura (Sherman)

louise said...

Thank you Laura! I'm so glad you enjoyed the Dutch Babies. It's always fun to introduce friends to some of my long-time favorites!