Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Visions of Dutch Babies Danced In My Head

I dream about food.  Not only do I have waking daydreams of lentil stews and fresh baked bread and kale and a million other foods I love.  Not only does my mind wander to delicious meals when I'm driving or trying to meditate, but my sleeping dreams are also quite often invaded by visions of sugar plums and other such fancies.

Last night, well, last night I dreamt about Dutch Babies.  It was delightful waking up and realizing that I could turn this dream into a reality with relative ease and that I had the perfect excuse to do so as well.  E., my brother-in-law, has been our houseguest for the past few days.  Today, before he departed for Chicago, I wanted to give him a proper breakfast as a send off.  

E. is an enthusiastic, voracious eater, with an excellent palate and a sense of adventure.  (Apparently, these traits are not inheritable as Kent, E.'s younger brother, does not share the same appetite for culinary novelty.)  Among E's other admirable qualities is the fact that he's a breakfast eater.  I haven't cooked breakfast for someone in years because Kent did not inherit the breakfast-eater gene either.

Enter Dutch Babies.

Dutch Babies are in the pancake family, but are much less fussy to execute than an average flapjack.  They are eggy like French toast, custardy like bread pudding, and puffy like a souffle, but start with a batter that resembles a crepe batter.  Somehow, though, a Dutch Baby does not suffer an identity crisis, and the whole is greater than the sum of its separate virtues.  The Dutch Babies are light and tender, but still satisfyingly cakey.  Traditionally, Dutch Babies are served with lemon and powdered sugar.  I do not recommend that you skimp on this step.  As E. said after his first bite, "The lemon really ties everything together."  I feel that same.  The contrast of lemon and sugar punctuate the rich-eggy 'pancake' in a complimentary way, that without which, the Babies would feel naked.   

In a pre-coffee, dreamy state, I managed to cobble together two recipes for Dutch Babies with the ingredients I had on hand.  Making Dutch Babies was simple, homey, yet also special enough for company.  The results so good that even avowed breakfast avoider, Kent, couldn't resist one.  However, he refused the lemons and sugar and preferred a heavy dose of maple syrup with his, which was almost as good.

Dutch Babies (slightly adapted from Molly Wizenberg's A Homemade Life and Marion Cunningham's Fannie Farmer Cookbook).
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup all purpose flour
3 eggs, room temperature *
1/2 teaspoon salt
fresh lemon 
powdered sugar
*If using eggs straight from the refrigerator, place eggs in a bowl and cover with very hot tap water until ready to use.  

Preheat oven to 425.

Melt butter in 10 inch, cast iron skillet, or similar vessel that can go from stove top to oven.  Swirl butter to insure sides of skillet are well coated with butter. Set aside.

In small mixing bowl combine milk, flour, eggs, salt, and melted butter.  Blend with immersion blender until well mixed and slightly frothy. (Alternately, you could use a regular blender or a whisk and lots of upper body strength.)

Pour into prepared skillet and bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until golden brown around the edges.  (The middle will also puff slightly.)

Squirt with fresh lemon juice and sprinkle with powdered sugar just before serving.
Add a fried egg (from the backyard chickens) and toast with mulberry jam (from the neighbor's mulberry tree) if you're feeling particularly decadent.


Cindy Salo said...


You are my sole source of information on good food. But that first photo? If I found that in the pig barn, I'd have to treat the whole bunch.

Sarah Lenz said...

I was going for a before and after photo.

Pretty amazing, right? From scours to delicious Dutch babies in 20 minutes.

Cindy Salo said...

GREAT comeback! Nice. I had never heard of Dutch babies (although I've met many adults from the Netherlands, so I assumed such a thing existed).

I bought lentils to make your caramelized onions and lentil dish...soon, very soon.

Love love love what you've done to expand my cooking repertoire.