Thursday, 12 November 2015

Dutch babies

I'm not turning maternal on you, I promise - but I do like making Dutch babies! They are really a misnomer, as the name is derived from the American Pennsylvania Dutch or 'Deutsch' as they should really be - it's a German 'pfannkuchen' recipe that has had some tender loving care in America. It's perfect for breakfast or brunch - and feeds an army of hungry workers in the middle of the day with little preparation & effort. 

In England, we've long had a passion for Toad-in-the-hole and Yorkshire puddings as evening meals or accompaniment with Sunday roast dinners. This is another dish in the same vein - a rich pancake batter which is oven baked in very hot fat at a high heat to puff up into lovely fluffy clouds of crispy deliciousness. The big difference to a Yorkshire pudding - where you add all the toppings in afterwards (onion gravy, sausages) - is the inclusion of the flavour ingredients as part of the batter in the cooking. I take quite an experimental approach to it and add what I have in the fridge but for the less enthusiastic here's some tips : 

Savoury babies :
  • cubes of feta or halloumi
  • bacon or pancetta strips
  • pepperoni slices

Sweet babies :
  • apple slices
  • cherry pieces
  • sugar & lemon

To make the basic Dutch Baby you want :

1/3 cup of all-purpose flour
1/2 cup of milk
2 beaten eggs
salt & pepper to taste ( nutmeg or cinnamon if sweet) 

Mix all the above ingredients into a smooth batter. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees , and prepare a metal tin with small cubes of butter or other fat, sufficient to create a thin layer of oil in the base. Heat the tin in the oven until the fat is lovely & smoking hot. Bring out, and fill with the batter and additional ingredients.  Cook in the oven for 15-20 minutes until the pancake is puffy, goldenbrown and set through. Don't open the oven whilst it's cooking because it will collapse and you will lose all the lovely airspaces that form the crispy edges. 

If you are feeling experimental you can go as far as mix'n'matching in the same time so you have both main and dessert in the oven at the same time  - as in the picture below. You have to be very quick with laying out the ingredients, as you can't mix them into the batter beforehand and you want to make sure the oil/fat layer doesn't lose all it's heat whilst you put the contents in. 

Happy Baby making  & Baby eating. My, that sounds so wrong - and yet so right!

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