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Dutch babies served sweet and savory |

Dutch babies served sweet and savory

During the past few weeks, as I’ve regularly perused food stories in newspapers and culinary websites, I encountered several print publications and various online sources featuring Dutch babies. For those unfamiliar with these, we are not referring to children born in the Netherlands, but a sweet popover-pancake fusion popular as a breakfast dish and now widely reimagined to include savory variations.

Origin stories for the airy, eggy treat typically include references to the German pancake called Deutsch pfannkuchen. These puffy crepes were served with warm sliced apples, a splash of lemon juice and a dusting of confectioners sugar. Urban legend holds that the daughter of a Seattle restaurant owner couldn’t pronounce their correct name (Deutsch) so they became Dutch babies sometime in the mid-1900s.


Dutch babies bake into soufflé-like heights, similar to the way popovers expand. While you assemble the batter in a blender, you’re melting butter in a cast-iron skillet in a hot oven. Once the flour, milk, sugar and eggs are blended into a silky, smooth texture, the batter is poured into the piping-hot skillet. The batter’s interaction with the melted butter will determine the charmingly irregular shape of the finished product.

Once the Dutch baby is puffed and golden, turn off the oven and let it sit inside for a few minutes – this will help delay its ultimate collapse. To serve, simply slide the Dutch baby out of the skillet and onto a plate. Spritz with a few squeezes of fresh lemon juice, generously dust with confectioners sugar and top with a scattering of fruit.

For the Dutch babies in the photo, I made a few adjustments to the standard recipe. Instead of spraying lemon juice on top after it was baked, I mixed lemon zest into the batter. Although fresh blueberries work well as a garnish, I sautéed these in a bit of butter and orange juice to give them that lovely sheen.

If you’re looking for flavor variations on a sweet Dutch baby, consider adding vanilla extract or cinnamon to the batter. You can substitute all sorts of different fruits (e.g., apples, raspberries, cherries, peaches, kiwi) either gently cooked or perfectly fresh. To satisfy even the most demanding sweet tooth, offer lemon curd or maple syrup as an additional topping.

Now that you know how easy it is to make a Dutch baby, you can also try your hand at a savory version. Because of the delicate nature of the batter (unlike a sturdy pizza crust) you can only add your toppings (savory or sweet) once the batter has baked. For some toppings, this will require mixing and cooking the ingredients stovetop while the eggy batter bakes.

Be careful with recipes that instruct you to mix chopped vegetables, meat or cheese directly into the batter. The combination of weight and moisture will prevent the batter from cooking and puffing up as it should. One exception to this would be finely grated Parmesan or Romano cheese. One other tip to help create height in your Dutch baby is to bring the eggs to room temperature before mixing the batter.

I’ve included three recipes: the sweet Dutch baby in the photo, a traditional apple pancake version and a basic savory Dutch baby. This final recipe creates a versatile ingredient for a savory start – an edible plate for baby greens in a vinaigrette, sautéed peppers with sausage slices or chopped tomato with marinated mozzarella. Dutch babies – they’re not just for breakfast anymore.

Blueberry Dutch Baby

4 T butter
4 eggs
1 C milk
3/4 C flour
2 T sugar
1/4 t salt
zest of 1 lemon
1 T butter
2 T orange juice
1 C blueberries
1 T confectioners sugar

Preheat oven to 425 F. Place butter in a large cast-iron skillet (or divide butter between 2 small skillets). Set skillet on the middle rack in the oven to melt the butter. Combine eggs, milk, flour, sugar, salt and lemon zest in a blender; process until smooth and creamy. Remove the skillet from the oven and swirl melted butter to completely coat the inside. Pour batter into the hot skillet and bake until puffed and lightly browned, about 20 minutes. When the Dutch baby is cooked, turn off the oven and leave the skillet inside for about 5 minutes while you prepare the blueberries. Melt 1 T butter in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add orange juice and blueberries; sauté until heated through, about 3 minutes. Garnish cooked Dutch baby with blueberries and confectioners sugar. Yield: 4 servings.

Apple Dutch Baby

2 T butter
3 eggs
1/2 C milk
1/2 C flour
1/4 t salt
2 apples
1 T butter
1/2 t cinnamon
1 lemon
1 T confectioners sugar

Preheat oven to 425 F. Add 2 T butter to a cast-iron skillet and place in the oven to melt while preparing batter. In the bowl of a blender, combine eggs, milk, flour, and salt. Process until smooth and creamy. Remove skillet from oven and swirl melted butter to completely coat the inside. Pour in batter and return skillet to the oven. Bake until puffed and golden, about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, peel, core and slice the apples. Melt 1 T butter in a nonstick skillet over low heat. Add apple slices and cinnamon. Halve the lemon and squeeze juice from 1 half into the skillet; reserve other lemon half for garnish. Sauté apples until softened, about 10 minutes. When Dutch baby is cooked, remove skillet from oven and squeeze fresh lemon juice over the top. Scatter apples across the top and sprinkle with confectioners sugar. Yield: 4 servings.

Savory Dutch Baby

4 T butter
6 eggs
1 C milk
1 t salt
1/4 t black pepper
1 C flour
1/2 C grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 C snipped chives
1 T minced thyme leaves
2 T minced parsley

Preheat oven to 425 F. Add butter to a large cast-iron skillet and place in the oven to melt. Combine eggs and milk in a blender; process until smooth. Add salt, pepper, flour and Parmesan cheese; blend until combined. Remove skillet from oven and swirl melted butter to coat the inside. Pour batter into hot pan, sprinkle with herbs and bake until puffed and golden, about 20 minutes. When Dutch baby is done, turn off oven and leave skillet inside for about 5 minutes. Remove skillet from oven and garnish as desired (e.g., baby arugula in vinaigrette; sautéed sausage and peppers; roasted tomatoes and mozzarella in Balsamic dressing). Yield: 4 servings.

Category: Skillets  Tags: ,  Comments off
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