Hi guys! Here I am again posting a not-super-healthy recipe in January, despite the fact that it's resolution frenzy/detox/back-to-normal season. I know, I get it. I'm working on it too. I ate too many cookies in December, and decided that "that extra day off from the gym would be ok" too many times. Too many mugs of hot cocoa were enjoyed as a form of relief from cold December days, and too many drinks were had on New Year's Eve. Even though we're coming out of this season of food excess, I can't seem to stop myself from wondering...when can I make post that cake recipe idea that just popped into my head? When will it be appropriate to go back to consistently posting delicious buttery goodies? Will people hate me if all I want to bake and photograph is frosting swirled cake in January? What about ice cream? Surely people will be ok with an ice cream post...maybe. I hope I'm not the only one who's been having these thoughts. By no means am I saying that we should all give up on our resolutions of having a better, fitter, healthier 2014, but we should be realistic. I for one, cannot give up dessert or chocolate, no matter how hard I may try. I can't and I won't. The occasional treat is always helpful, both for our bellies and our sanity. So, let's promise each other that we will simply take things in moderation, and not deprive ourselves of a little indulgence here and there, so long as we make good choices the rest of the time! I'm already back to my healthy eating habits and lifting lots of heavy things at the gym, but right now, it's the weekend. Time to celebrate!
Since it's the weekend, let's celebrate at breakfast time. Breakfast is one of my favorite meal times, although I guess I should be more specific. I love brunch. Brunch is great because it happens later in the morning, meaning that I have more time to sleep in, which is always a good thing. I do like regular weekday breakfasts though, and I'll usually have an egg white omelet or a big bowl of PB+J oats. Weekend breakfasts are the best though, because I have more time to get creative and whip up something special, usually in the form of pancakes or French toast. Every now and then, however, I get into this weird mood where all I could want in this world is a stack of beautiful, fluffy pancakes with syrup dripping down the sides of them, but I just feel like I can't bring myself to stand over a griddle and flip pancakes. And the stirring that comes before that. And the bowls that need to be washed after that. I don't know why my laziness sometimes gets the better of me (and inconveniently when I'm craving a stack of pancakes), but when this situation comes up, I have a simple solution. Dutch. Baby.
Have you heard of these before? This amazing little breakfast treat is also known by many as a German pancake, and is pretty much a large, sweet version of a popover. Supposedly, Dutch baby pancakes were introduced in the US in a Seattle diner, and since then, they've become a specialty breakfast item in lots of diners. I was first introduced to Dutch baby pancakes in my 7th grade Home Economics class. I have no idea what we called them back then (I know for sure it wasn't Dutch baby or German pancake), but I remember that I loved the pancake at first bite. Little twelve year old me made many versions of the pancake for my parents and my sister on weekends, the only time we could sit and enjoy a nice breakfast together. I didn't really enjoy my home ec class (not to sound like a know-it-all, but I really already knew most of the cooking and baking techniques that were being taught, thanks to my mama), but this pancake made up for the blandness of the class. It was just so amazing.
Unfortunately, the pancake recipe from 7th grade is long gone, and I'm pretty sure I have no way of finding it again. Fortunately, there's lots of Dutch baby recipes out there, and I was so happy with the one I ended up choosing to make. I realize that I've been talking a lot in this post about how amazing these Dutch baby things are, but I've only really described them as a sweet popover. Helpful, huh? Well for starters, a Dutch baby really is just a big popover, and is prepared in a similar fashion, where a thin batter is poured into a hot cast iron skillet (a round cake pan will work as well) and then baked. As the Dutch baby bakes, it begins to magically puff up around the sides of the pan, and it grows taller and taller. The Dutch baby is then removed from the oven and, traditionally, immediately served with lemon juice and powdered sugar. The Dutch baby will begin to deflate shortly after it is removed from the oven, but then you're left with a breakfast treat that's soft and tender, almost custard-like in the middle, but wonderfully crisp on the outside. Dutch babies are much lighter than traditional American style flapjacks which is a good thing in this case. This might look like a large pancake (well duh, it is...), but I find that it is the perfect size for a breakfast for four. Since the pancake isn't heavy at all, you'll find that you can actually eat a lot of it!
I loved the way this Dutch baby turned out. While they're traditionally served with lemon wedges and powdered sugar, I wanted to try something a little different. I thought about serving this Dutch baby with a little syrup, like I first did back in 7th grade, but then I decided to instead make a cranberry syrup to keep things seasonal. In the end, I think it was a perfect choice. The slightly tart syrup combined with the powdered sugar and sweet pancake probably resembled the traditional serving suggestion very closely! If you've never had a Dutch baby before, I highly, highly, highly recommend them. They take almost no effort to prepare (seriously, you just have to put all the ingredients into a blender and just blend, so literally anyone can make this), and never fail to impress. They're so striking when they first come out of the oven, and while it's always a little sad to see them deflate, their taste more than makes up for it. Make sure to fit this Dutch baby into your weekend breakfast schedule, enjoy!
Dutch Baby with Cranberry Syrup
recipe adapted from Epicurious
For the Dutch Baby
3 large eggs. at room temperature
2/3 cup whole milk, at room temperature
2/3 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 stick butter, cut in pieces
For the Cranberry Syrup
2 cups fresh cranberries
2/3 cup water
2/3 cup sugar
Begin by preparing the cranberry syrup. Combine the cranberries, water, sugar, and lemon zest in a small saucepan, and place over medium heat. Cook the mixture for about 9 minutes, or until the cranberries have swelled and begun to burst. Pour the mixture through a strainer into a measuring cup and discard the solids. Chill the syrup in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
While the syrup is cooling, prepare the Dutch Baby. Position 10-inch cast iron skillet on a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat it to 450 degrees F. Combine the eggs, milk, flour, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a blender and blend until smooth (the batter will be thin).
Once the oven has preheated, remove the cast iron skillet from the oven and add the butter to the hot skillet, swirling to coat. Pour in the batter, and immediately return the skillet to the oven. Bake until the pancake has puffed and turned golden brown, about 20 minutes. Serve immediately with cranberry syrup and powdered sugar. Enjoy!
Makes 1 10-inch Dutch Baby