Bread of the Month: Expecting (big things from) a Dutch baby

I won’t say I was anticipating a Dutch baby almost as much as a real one because that wouldn’t be true. First off, I have no anticipation for a real one; second off, as excited as I was to make a Dutch baby, I’m sure the thrill level would fall far shorter than the usual kind of hullaballoo one would feel for the arrival of the human kind.

Still, I was pretty darned excited.

A Dutch baby or Dutch baby pancake (or German pancake or puff pancake) is a kind of event, where something very simple gets poured into a pan and becomes something quite spectacular with a little time in the oven. Similar to its kin, a popover, heat and steam raise an egg-y batter to lofty heights. Unlike the popover, which keeps its airy stature, the Dutch baby collapses into a craggy deliciousness, waiting to be filled with butter, syrup, jam or fruit fillings.

I love the idea of blender batters, which is how the Dutch baby (and the popover) begins. A few ingredients — flour, milk, eggs, sugar and nutmeg, are blended for a bit, then poured into a skillet in which a half stick of butter has been melted.

Working quickly so as not to lose the skillet’s heat, the pan of batter is placed in the high-temperature oven. During the baking, I dared not peek, but gave in just once to see the batter pillowing up in the skillet.

After 20 minutes at high heat, then a five-minute baking at 300 degrees, the Dutch baby emerged, complete in its own quirky way, mottled and golden, with moist craters across its surface and crisp, raised edges along the perimeter of the skillet.

I kept this baby simple, with a mere powdering of sugar, then butter and low-sugar syrup. It was deliciously buttery and tender (and as was said in my favorite show, “Bob’s Burger’s, “ “You can’t even taste the baby…”), with golden crunch in just the right places. The little hint of nutmeg was perfect. It reminded me a little of funnel cakes served at the fair. I imagined future babies flavored with lemon zest and topped with with spiced fried apples or cherry preserves.

A single pancake, perfect for a Sunday breakfast. When a baby’s arrival is this easy, why not?

Dutch Baby
From The New York Times
Serves 2 to 4

3 eggs
½ cup flour
½ cup milk
1 tablespoon sugar
Pinch of nutmeg
4 tablespoons butter
Syrup, preserves, confectioners’ sugar or cinnamon sugar

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Combine eggs, flour, milk, sugar and nutmeg in a blender jar and blend until smooth. Batter may also be mixed by hand.

Place butter in a heavy 10-inch skillet or baking dish and place in the oven. As soon as the butter has melted (watch it so it does not burn) add the batter to the pan, return pan to the oven and bake for 20 minutes, until the pancake is puffed and golden. Lower oven temperature to 300 degrees and bake five minutes longer.

Remove pancake from oven, cut into wedges and serve at once topped with syrup, preserves, confectioners’ sugar or cinnamon sugar.

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