They’re called Dutch babies, those skillet-sized, golden pancakes, with a crackly crust and eggy interior. Pull them from the oven and race to the table before they collapse in a steamy huff.
Deliciously dramatic, these giant sweet golden poofs were the Saturday breakfasts of my childhood, the pride of my dad’s happy, lazy weekend mornings. We’d douse them with butter and real maple syrup and devour them with smoky farmhouse bacon.
According to historians, the curious name is a corruption of the German word “deutsch.” Traditional German pancakes or pfannkuchen are served drizzled with lemon juice and sprinkled with powdered sugar or topped with spiced sautéed apples.
The recipe for these is almost the same as the classic popover. And like popovers, Dutch babies may be made savory or sweet. They are especially great with a good, sharp cheese such as Parmesan or aged Gouda, creating a lacy, dark crust. Add lots of chopped fresh herbs and you have a lovely cross between a quiche and a pancake that makes a fine brunch dish or a quick, light supper when paired with a dark green salad.
You’ll want your batter to be very smooth with no lumps so a blender or food processor works well for this. Allow the batter to rest for a while on the counter or overnight in the refrigerator in a covered container. This gives the flour a chance to absorb the liquid, to improve its flavor and help ensure a soft texture.
Before you begin, make sure the skillet is very hot so that you get a good lift and firm, crackly edges. Because this recipe comes together so quickly, you can make each Dutch baby to order one at a time, or have a couple of them in the oven at once. Leftovers are fabulous, seared off in a skillet.
Whether savory or sweet, Dutch babies are right, any time of day.
Beth Dooley is the author of “In Winter’s Kitchen.” Find her at bethdooleyskitchen.com.