Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A Dutch baby for Mom

Dutch babies are egg-y puffed-up pancakes that bake in the oven. When I was growing up, we called them German pancakes. Whatever you call them, they are delicious and very easy to make. One piece of special equipment is needed: a heavy 10" cast-iron skillet. I don't think of a solid cast-iron skillet as special equipment since it can be your everyday skillet. Cast-iron is cheap, a fantastic conductor of heat, and when well seasoned, non-stick. Its one drawback is it is heavy. But, think of it as weightlifting. Also, you'll be able to pass the thing down to your children. They are virtually indestructible. Even horribly rusted old ones can be rejuvenated with a good scrubbing and a few re-seasonings. (For instructions on seasoning and care of your new or abused cast iron cookware, check out the Lodge website. Lodge makes most of the cast-iron cookware in the US.)

The pancake has no sugar in it (some do), so serve it with something sweet. I like a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a generous sprinkling of powdered sugar or sliced apples sauteed in a little butter and maple syrup.

You'll get some fiber (not much since there is only ¾ cup flour) if you use whole wheat pastry flour, but it will puff more dramatically and bake up a little lighter if you use all-purpose flour. You can usually find whole wheat pastry flour in the bulk section of supermarkets or health food stores.

This makes a dramatic breakfast for Mom and since the whole thing is done at once, you can sit down with Mom rather than flipping the rest of the pancakes. But, make sure to get it to the table right away because it sinks very quickly!

Dutch Baby Pancake
(serves 4; total cost is $1.25, not including accompaniments)

2 Tablespoons butter
3 large eggs
¾ cup milk (skim, lowfat, whole)
¾ all-purpose or whole wheat pastry flour
1 pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 425°F. Place a 10" cast-iron skillet in the oven with the butter while you prepare the batter.

Whisk together eggs until yolks and whites are totally combined and a little frothy. Add milk and whisk vigorously to combine. Add the flour in 3 parts, whisking vigorously to combine after each addition. There should be no lumps. Add the salt and whisk for another 30 seconds.

Remove skillet from oven, swirl butter around and pour batter into skillet. Return to oven and bake for 15 minutes. It will puff up a lot, usually around the edges. Reduce oven to 350℉ and bake for another 10-15 minutes until golden brown.

Serve hot, straight from the oven, with fresh lemon juice and powdered sugar, or sliced sauteed apples and hot maple syrup.

Note: The batter can also be made in a blender. Blend the eggs for 30 seconds, slowly add the milk while the blender is running. Add the flour and salt and blend for another minute.

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