…of the Dutch variety
I never miss breakfast, for me, it is one of the most important meals in the day. Without a cup of coffee or tea and a bite to eat I feel unprepared to set off into the world. Growing up my mother would cook a nutritious and savory Japanese breakfast every morning. When we moved back to France, on special occasions I would dip toasted buttered baguette into a bowl of hot chocolate. Otherwise I made do with a slice of bread, my grandfather’s homemade jam, and tea. We never really ate pancakes for breakfast. I did a few times, of course, when I stayed at a friend’s place. There was the one friend who liked her pancakes small and round, almost fried in butter until the edges were crisp and brown. There was the friend who liked crepes with a lemon-sugar mix. And then my father, who only ever cooked crepes on an electric crepe maker, spreading them thin with a perfected wrist movement and a wooden utensil, and then serving them with maple syrup, sugar and butter, apple compote and cream, or Suzette for a special occasion. We only had these for dessert though, never in the morning. This was a recipe passed down from my great-grandmother, one I learned as soon as I was allowed into the kitchen.
The problem with pancakes or crepes for breakfast is that they are rather labor intensive, often there are too many for just one person or two, and I find myself wrapping the extra pancakes to be kept in the fridge and then unhappily forgotten… Recently, my weekend morning ritual transformed: I discovered babies, known as Dutch babies, or German pancakes.
My good friend Elena mentioned them over dinner one night. I asked her what she liked to make for breakfast or brunch, and she answered instantly: Dutch babies. She gave me the recipe, and since then, I can’t stop making these delicious pancakes. They are a perfect combination of crepe, thick pancake, and soufflé. They have to be eaten right out of then oven, when still hot and puffed. Most important: the recipe is simple. Make the batter, pour it on a skillet or an ovenproof pan, and throw it in the oven for approximately twenty minutes. As my obsession with these breakfast babies increased, I tried different variations of the recipe.Smitten Kitchen has a delicious buckwheat baby recipe, a perfect cross between a galette (savory crepe in France), and the regular Dutch baby. You can try out various toppings, savory or sweet. I tested a German Apple Pancake recipe from The Breakfast Book by Marion Cunningham, (recipe and photos below.) Among my favorite sweet toppings: salted caramel, fresh jam or fruit compote, honey, maple syrup, Greek yogurt, lemon juice and sugar. Bacon is also an amazing savory compliment. The combinations are endless!
————————————————————————————————————– Baby Recipes ————————————————————————————————————–
Elena’s Dutch Baby:
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
3 large eggs at room temperature 30 minutes (holding them under hot/warm running water seems to be a successful strategy too…they beat nice and fluffy)
2/3 cup whole milk at room temperature (same thing…warm it up a tad in a saucepan)
2/3 cup all-purpose flour (or half parts white & whole wheat flour if you like)
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 stick salted butter, cut into pieces
Equipment: a 10-inch cast-iron skillet
1. Put skillet on middle rack of oven and preheat oven to 450°F.
2. Stir together sugar and zest in a small bowl.
3. Beat eggs with an electric mixer at high speed until pale and frothy, then beat in milk, flour, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt and continue to beat until smooth, about 1 minute more (batter will be thin).
4. Add butter to hot skillet and melt, swirling to coat. Add batter and immediately return skillet to oven. Bake until puffed and golden-brown, 18 to 25 minutes.
5. Serve immediately, topped with lemon sugar (or Nutella, or salted caramel spread; you can also prepare a “savory baby” by subtracting the vanilla and cinnamon from the recipe, then sprinkle grated parmesan cheese on the baby about 5 minutes before it finishes baking…it’s really tasty alone or with hot sauce)
Baked German Apple Pancake
From “The Breakfast Book” by Marion Cunningham
Link to Recipe