April 24, 2014

Dutch Baby, aka Popover Pancake

Wow, there's a lot of names for this one. In addition to Dutch Baby and Popover Pancakes, they are also called Dutch Puffs, Puff(ed) Pancakes, Oven Pancakes, and German Pancakes, although they don't seem much like the pfannkuchen I've seen so far here in Germany. Probably a few other names that I've missed, too. It is essentially the kissing cousin of Yorkshire Pudding (minus the dripping), and is frequently served drenched in butter, and/or preserves or syrups. You know, like pancakes. A fan of the classics will want to top it with lemon juice and confectioner's sugar. Lunatics like me might periodically tend toward toppings such as thick fruit yoghurt (or breakfast fruit Quark), or peanut butter (either you'll find that sounds delightful or abominable, I'm afraid. I go one further, and add syrup on top of the peanut butter). Some versions call for laying apples in caramel on the bottom, before the batter goes in, or simply laying the apple slices on top of the batter before it goes into the oven. Those are pretty good, too.

That being said, you could certainly just fill the otherwise empty crater of the finished pancake with sausages and fried onions, and I wouldn't turn that down, either.

Pancake politics aside, these are breathtakingly easy to make. If you've got a cast iron skillet, all the better, as this is cooked at high heat (notorious enemy of non-stick and plastic handles). A steel skillet should also work pretty well. I've used my 10 3/4 inch cast iron skillet for this one.

Dutch Baby
Serves 2

3 large eggs (at room temperature)
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup whole milk
pinch kosher salt
2 tablespoons butter

In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk until smooth. Add the flour slowly, whisking as you go, until it is all blended together. Add the milk and the pinch of salt, and continue to whisk until smooth. Set aside to rest while you preheat the oven.

Preheat the oven (rack in the middle) to 425 F. At the same time, preheat your cast iron skillet over medium heat on the stove-top (you could preheat it in the oven, but then the butter might burn when you add it). When the oven is fully preheated, and the skillet is nicely hot, but not smoking, add the butter, and swirl it around so that it is completely melted, and evenly coats the bottom of the pan.

Scrape the batter all at once into the hot, buttered skillet, and immediately place the skillet in the oven. Do not cover the skillet. Bake until the pancake has puffed up like a popover, and the edges are browned and start to pull away from the pan. This should take about 15 minutes, depending on your oven, so keep an eye on it. This time could be put to excellent use frying up some bacon.

Once the edges are nicely golden brown and puffed, remove the pancake from the oven and serve it up hot.

Note that this is not a soufflé, or a true popover. The middle will begin to deflate a bit as soon as it comes out of the oven, giving a softer, more sponge-like texture to the interior of the finished pancake.

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