Thursday, November 8, 2012

TOO MUCH OF A GOOD THING

I usually eat coffee for breakfast. But it's impossible for me to resist a hot Dutch baby pancake, whether it's dripping in brown butter, showered with powdered sugar and lemon, scattered with pockets of caramelized jam, or filled with lemon zest and blackberries.

We made Dutch baby pancakes every single day last week. By day seven, I started to unravel.

I woke up, pulled on my favorite black skinny jeans, and couldn't button them up. At all.

Then, I found myself kneeling down in front of the oven yelling at the Dutch baby du jour (caramel praline) to "Rise, you motherfucker. Rise." And when it deflated and collapsed in on itself, I grabbed my iPhone and Googled "ovulation and Dutch babies." I didn't find a single example of ovulatory hormones impacting a Dutch baby pancake's ability to rise. But I did learn a lot about fertility in the Netherlands.

I took the sad Dutch baby out of the oven, sat down on the floor, and started daydreaming about slow-cooked pork with fennel and honey. And vegetables. Lots of leafy green vegetables.

My son ran into the kitchen, saw the Dutch baby, and yelled out, "What the heck is wrong with it? It's flat! Mama? What. Did. You. Do."

"Dash. I don't know. They are so unpredictable. I think I should have added the praline at the end."

He crawled into my lap and started palpating my neck and chin, counting every ridge, pore, discoloration, tracing the wrinkles around my eyes. "One two three four five six seven wow mama eight nine ten too many to count."

I swatted his hands away.

"But look at that amazing line between your eyebrows. I want lines on my face. When will I get them?"

"Dash, they will come when you're older. I promise."

"Like 20?"

"No. My age. 42. These special ones come from worry."

I brought his forehead to mine and we began a Sunday morning chat about what a stressful week it had been. From the hurricane to the the upcoming election to the civil war in Syria to the crazy neighbor who won't put her ferocious dog on a leash. And most of all how much we wanted to gather up our friends in New York City and feed them Dutch baby pancakes.

"Mama, get your notebook. Let's write down what we learned this week."

"Dash, you're a good little recipe tester."

"I'm not little."

Feel free to skip the details and jump straight to the recipe. But for those of you interested in geeking out on the recipe-testing details, here's what we made, learned, and ate last week:

1. On Monday, we improvised. Some flour, some eggs, pinch of salt, whole milk, and vanilla extract all went into the food processor and then into a very hot cast iron pan filled with melted butter. It was a bit cakey and cracked. And the bottom was too firm. We still ate the whole thing.
2. Tuesday. We used less flour and added 1/4 cup crème fraîche. I got the pan hotter and threw in a bit more butter. I brought the oven temp down to 425°F. Success. It was lighter. And the crème fraîche gave it a wonderful sour flavor.
3. Wednesday. Same batter. Same temperature. We added a teaspoon of lemon zest. We found blackberries in the freezer and bashed the hell out of them with the meat cleaver until we had frozen berry powder. This pancake tasted like August.
4.We scattered Thursday's with chocolate chips. The day after Halloween. For breakfast. Bad mama.
5. On Friday, I dragged spoonfuls of raspberry and apricot jam through the batter. The pancake was filled with hot pockets of fruit.
6. On Saturday, I went on an unnecessary savory Dutch baby detour. As my daughter pointed out, "It's a pancake, mama. Why would you ruin it with cheese? That just sucks." But I'm a stubborn mama and it was just two days after Halloween and I thought that my kids could use a day off from all the sugar.

If there's any interference, a Dutch baby pancake cannot slide up the sides of the pan and float into that marvelous mogul-like terrain. Big chunks of bacon and coarsely grated gruyère cheese turned my experiment into what my son called a "stupid frittata." But I accessorized it with avocado slices and crème fraîche and Sriracha and pretended it was never supposed to be a Dutch baby in the first place.
7. On Sunday, we swirled caramel sauce and praline through the batter. It started to rise and then stopped and caved in on itself. It was tasty but too dense. So we tried again. For the second one, we added the praline towards the end of the cooking time. It puffed. It climbed. It had pockets of caramel and a crispy praline top. Ooey gooey comfort.
DUTCH BABY PANCAKE
printable recipe
serves 3, if you're lucky.

Here's the template. As I've reported, it's not perfect. But it usually works!

Some people say you'll get greater height with room temperature ingredients or leaving the batter out for a few hours or overnight. Others say to try bread flour. Let me know your tricks. My most successful Dutch babies were made from batter that I had just made.

Warning: don't add anything heavy until almost the end of the cooking time (praline, cheese, bacon, chocolate chips).

However, you can swirl jam or caramel sauce or pulverized berries through the raw batter right before cooking.

ingredients:
4 eggs
1 cup whole milk
1/4 cup crème fraîche (or sour cream)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
pinch salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons salted butter
powdered sugar
lemon
maple syrup

directions:
Throw your 8 or 9 inch cast iron pan (or ovenproof dish) into the oven. Preheat oven to 425°F. You want your pan to be very hot.

In a food processor or a blender, blend the heck out of the eggs, milk, crème fraîche, flour, salt, and vanilla (30 seconds or so). If you mix it by hand, add the flour in a few batches and mix really well.

Add butter to the hot pan in the oven. Careful. The butter will brown very fast.When just melted, remove pan from the oven, quickly pour in the batter, and put the pan back in the oven. Resist the urge to open the oven. After a few minutes (fingers crossed) the pancake will start to climb up the sides of the pan and puff up in the middle. It's done when the edges are starting to turn brown and the batter is just set in the middle. About two minutes before it's done, you can sprinkle it with powdered sugar, praline, or chocolate chips and they will melt into the surface.

Serve with powdered sugar and lemon. Or warm maple syrup. Or both.

40 comments:

  1. Oh the Dutch baby is a HUGE staple in our house...but we call it a "puffy pancake". My mom made it for us as kids and I make it for my kids (in fact I made it this morning). I just visited my brother and was making it for my niece and my bro and I both knew the recipe by heart...love me a puffy!! thanks lady for another amazing post

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  2. Every now and again when the baby is asleep and the hubby is asleep and the house is quiet I curl up in front of the computer and in between work, e-mails, news of the world, uploading the millionth picture of the baby, I hold my breath a little and click on my D&B bookmark...when I see a new post I smile and indulge...I can't decide what I love more your honest, raw parenting (that I totally relate to!), the perfect photos that capture exactly the right moment, or the mouthwatering recipes??!! THANK YOU for making each one better than the last...

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    1. oh my. what a beautiful comment. made my day. i know how precious time is. how touching that you head over to my blog when you have a quiet moment.

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  3. >>I usually eat coffee for breakfast.<<
    Ha! Me too! :)

    but now I'm really tempted to try your Dutch Baby. The one with caramel sauce and praline. Sounds too good not to crave for it.

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  4. yummmmmmmmmmmmm!

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  5. I have been very into dutch babies lately. Yours look amazing. I am going to try it tomorrow morning with the sour cream in the batter and the pockets of fruit jam. Sounds ridiculous and I have a glut of plum jam right now from a particularly fruitful tree in my neighborhood.

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  6. Damn, you live fat, woman. Fat as in Phat.

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    1. that's way too much flour....try 1/4 cup of flour....
      or even less.
      I use a 435 degree oven.
      And the flour needs to be LIGHT and I better luck with self-rising flour..
      And I think you will be happier with the results.

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  7. I love everything about this post. Perhaps most of all, I love the way you describe your interactions with your children, the way you talk about them as, you know, people, albeit small ones.

    And the Dutch babies! I've been meaning to make them some lazy weekend morning... Your seven-day stretch is quite impressive!

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  8. O dear God those pancakes sound GOOOOD! I'm almost afraid to try them, need to be able to get into the skinny jeans. But they're stretchy, so whatever!

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  9. Can't wait to try this, thanks!

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  10. Seriously, I love the way you write and your kiddos and your photos. You inspire me. I just commented on your instagram pork (I am making pulled pork with fennel tomorrow) and read how you were dreaming of it with honey. Now I want to add honey too. Thanks.

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  11. Phyllis, can I please come over for breakfast!
    xxxooo
    E

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  12. Love Dutch babies...but have never done them with chocolate chips or praline. Will do. Sometimes I bake them individually in canning jars, like this: http://www.momskitchenhandbook.com/uncategorized/go-dutch-baby-puffy-apple-cinnamon-pancakes-in-a-jar/

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    Replies
    1. love the individual dutch baby idea. maybe in a week or two! i need a break. thanks for the link!

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  13. You are intrepid in your devotion to mastering dishes like this, and it's such a joy to come along for the ride. Also, praline in Dutch babies? You have no idea how much I love that this never occurred to me.

    If you ever run out of face-lines for Dash to count, feel free to send him my way.

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  14. I read this like four days ago and still can't stop thinking about "stupid frittata." That is all.

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  15. I think you'd love this-- have you seen it? The scene you wrote about your son feeling the lines on your face makes me think it's perfect to send to you (and I'm not even a mom.) http://offbeatmama.com/2012/11/telling-daughters-im-beautiful

    By the by, my dear lady--your writing is stunning.

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    1. thank you, katherine. and i just read the offbeat mama post. made me cry. so powerful.

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  16. Christian Rene FriborgNovember 15, 2012 at 10:45 PM

    Pancakes are the best breakfast food ever.

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  17. I love how you have given us a template AND showed a variety of Dutch Baby options. Can't wait to try this.

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  18. Love Dutch Baby pancakes, have you tried them individually in a muffin tin like this (http://www.makeandtakes.com/pop-up-pancakes). Also, abelskivers (http://www.wearechefs.com/profiles/blogs/abelskivers-danish-pancake), the breakfast food to die for. Our Christmas morning tradition, my Nana makes them!

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  19. Wow these looks seriously amazing, I’m drooling all over the screen here, I have to tray this receipt ASAP, I bet it taste as good at it looks, it doesn’t seem so complicated to prepare, I will give it a tray! Your have a lovely blog by the way and I am a new follower! Hope you will like my blog and follow back!

    Pop Culture&Fashion Magic

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  20. I made this recipe this (christmas) morning and it was so good. I made it 2 times previously and didn't turn out as well. Still not sure how long it's supposed to bake. I put thawed frozen peaches and blueberries in first, then batter. Thanks!

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  21. We've instituted 'Dutch baby Saturday' since reading this post - thank you. Last weekend we hit the jackpot: left out the vanilla and added a teaspoon of almond extract and dollops of hot marmalade like your jam one. Dear heaven, it was amazing.

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  22. I've just "found" you via Saveur. I love your words, your humour, your age (similar to mine), your perspective. Thanks for sharing.

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  23. Hi Phylis - how long do you cook them for?

    Thanks!

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    1. emma,
      each on is different. it will start to rise along the sides. then it will puff a bit in the middle (sometimes dramatically!). then it will start to brown. take it out as it's just set; in other words when there's no more runny batter. usually between 12 and 20 minutes.
      good luck!

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  24. Such a fun read!! I'm drooling. :-)

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  25. Quit calling it an MF and it might taste better.

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  26. baby pancake is good with butter rum sauce ,add raisins if you like
    butter/brown sugar/vanilla/rum to taste and reduce down over medium heat until it thickens and soak raisins in rum overnight and add to this sauce

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  27. Did you really have to drop the f-bomb into a family oriented article? Talk about coarsening the language. Shame!

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  28. Oh, Phyllis, I get so happy when I get a new post from you—and now I know about all the other ways to find you. Re: Dutch babies, about a year or so ago I made one every morning for my kids (I'd pour the batter in the pan and then run upstairs and start the drill sergeant portion of my day). I'd found the recipe online, learned it by heart, and never wrote it down. Then I couldn't remember it anymore, and though I searched and searched for it online, I never found the exact recipe I'd used (although Melissa Clark, Mark Bittman, and NYT in general were good resources). Thank you for inspiring me to try it again; as I type this, my 12-year-old son and 7-year-old daughter are circling the pan, jousting for the last piece, licking butter and sugar from their fingers...I ate my slice with lemon juice and blueberry jam...
    And to think that my husband almost chucked the 1/4 cup of sour cream that came with our dinner from Chipotle last night!
    Can't wait for your book!

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  29. I agree what's with the foul language?

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  30. Ya'll just get over yourselves! This is Phyllis' blog, not a place for your sanctimonious attitudes! She can express herself anyway she wants. If you can't say something nice, then don't say anything at all. The 3 of you, didn't even have the balls to use your names or say anything regarding the recipe.You should be ashamed!

    Phyllis, I got tickled reading this post about "dutch babies". We have recently started experimenting a lot with this dish. We have a lot of fun anticipating how each one will turn out. Your tips are very helpful. I can't wait to try your recipe. The "cornstarch" recipe is good but very cakey. So far, our favorite has been thawed mixed berries with powdered sugar. I topped one with warm apple pie filling last night for dessert. It was soo good!

    I think a well seasoned cast iron skillet is key for a good "climb". My recently reconditioned skillets are not quite there yet. My Daughter has requested I use Coconut oil, in lieu of butter. We shall see. :o)

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  31. My first foray was very tasty but did not rise along the sides like the pictures. Then I realize I only used two eggs. May add a pinch of baking powder next go-round.

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