Mother’s Day is set to look a lot more normal than last year as more people get vaccinated during the coronavirus pandemic. Some people will see their mothers in person for the first time in more than a year.
Restaurants — especially their patios — are likely to be busy again. But if you plan to celebrate by cooking at home, I have something fun for you to try.
A Dutch baby is as impressive as it is simple and fun.
Also known as a German pancake, a Dutch baby is kind of like a cross between a pancake and a crepe, though it’s more properly a type of popover, similar to a Yorkshire pudding.
Basically, a Dutch baby is a thin batter of milk, flour and eggs that’s poured into a hot, buttered skillet and baked. Though there is no chemical leavener such as baking powder or baking soda, the combination of well-beaten eggs and hot skillet make it puff as it bakes and becomes a beautiful golden color.
A plain Dutch baby is topped with a little confectioners’ sugar and served right away.
You can add more ingredients. Most Dutch babies are sweet, so they usually get some granulated sugar whisked into the batter, often with a touch of nutmeg or vanilla extract, and sometimes cinnamon.
Fresh sliced fruit, added after baking, is a great addition to any Dutch baby. When referred to as a German pancake, it often contains sautéed apple slices with brown sugar and cinnamon.
Dutch babies also can be savory. Ham and cheese, maybe with a few sliced scallions, make for a great Dutch baby. Other vegetables can be used but adding them can be tricky, because they can release unwanted moisture into the batter. If using such vegetables as mushrooms, cook them thoroughly before baking the Dutch baby. The same goes for such meats as bacon or sausage.
This batter is most easily made in a blender to get it nice and smooth, but it also can be made in a food processor or by hand.
The basic process is this:
Blend flour with room temperature milk and eggs, and maybe some salt, sugar and nutmeg or vanilla.
Heat a skillet or similar dish in a hot oven, such as 425 degrees.
Add butter to skillet until melted but not brown, then pour in batter.
Bake until puffed and golden, 20 to 25 minutes.
If making a sweet Dutch baby, top with confectioners’ sugar and fresh fruit if desired.
Pulling a beautifully puffed Dutch baby out of the oven is a sure way to get some oohs and aahs. Note that the pancake will deflate soon after it emerges from the oven. But the result is still like a tender, thick and eggy crepe.
A typical recipe uses ¼ cup all-purpose flour and ¼ cup whole milk to 1 egg — though some say using two eggs makes for a more billowy pancake. For a sweet Dutch baby, add up to 1 tablespoon sugar for each egg plus a pinch of salt. For a savory Dutch baby, eliminate the sugar and increase the salt to about ⅛ teaspoon for each egg.
The size of the pan does matter. In general, you are aiming for the batter to be spread thinly in the pan:
For a two-egg batter, use a 9- to 10-inch cast-iron or other ovenproof skillet.
For a three-egg batter, use a 10- to 11-inch skillet.
For a four-egg batter, use an 11- to 12-inch skillet.
Note: Measure your skillet across the top.
Other pans can be used, but a cast-iron skillet helps puff up Dutch babies especially well because it is so good at retaining heat. It’s that blast of heat to the eggy batter that creates the puff.
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