When I was a kid, my mom used to make Dutch babies (they’re also called German pancakes, Bismarcks, Dutch puffs and probably a few other names), and it always made breakfast feel special, fancy even, and we loved to sit by the oven peering in the window and watching as the flat batter puffed dramatically and quadrupled in size. This weekend, when there was the usual clamoring for pancakes, which I don’t particularly like and I’m not particularly good at making, I decided to make a Dutch baby instead. I like that they aren’t quite the gut bombs that pancakes are (at least how my pancakes turn out), and I love the different “condiments” that can accompany a Dutch baby. We sprinkled a little lemon zest mixed with sugar on ours and then served it with apple sauce, plain yogurt, maple syrup (not necessary, but delicious) and lemon wedges. Faced with another cold, rainy day and a traveling husband, we made breakfast an event. We got out the china, set a proper table, put on music and spent about an hour eating and talking at the table– a nice contrast to the hectic weekday mornings of scarfing down cereal and toast on the go.
There are a ton of different recipes, but here’s the one my mom and I use. It’s simple and doesn’t require any special ingredients that you won’t already have:
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons lemon zest
3 eggs at room temperature
2/3 cup whole or low-fat milk at room temperature
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 stick of butter cut into pieces
1. Put a 10 inch cast iron skillet in the middle rack of the oven and preheat to 450. If you don’t have a cast-iron skillet, a baking dish will work.
2. Mix sugar with lemon zest and set aside.
3. Beat eggs with an electric mixer on high until light and frothy. Lower speed and mix in milk, flour, vanilla, cinnamon and salt, continue to mix until smooth, about one minute. The batter will be pretty thin.
4. Take out the skillet, add the butter pieces, swirl to melt butter and coat the skillet, add the batter and then put the skillet in the oven and bake for 18 to 22 minutes, or until puffed and golden-brown.
5. Serve immediately, with lemon zest-sugar sprinkled on top and whatever else you like–yogurt, apple sauce, syrup, berries, chopped up apple and sliced bananas are all delicious toppers and it’s fun for the kids to customize their own pieces of the Dutch baby.