Vanilla Dutch Baby — The Weekender

By: Marisa McClellan
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For the last month, my husband and I have been trying to clean up our eating habits (things got dire toward the end of December). We’ve increased our intake of fruits and vegetables and have eased way back on baked goods and dairy products (oh cheese, I have missed you!).

These efforts have had the biggest impact on our weekend mornings. Instead of making pancakes or waffles as a Saturday morning treat, there have been a goodly number of vegetable-filled omelets and piles of oven-crisped turkey bacon. Those options are delicious, but not particularly satisfying when you’re craving a sweet treat.

This last Sunday, as a way to reward us for a month of virtuous eating, I made an oven-baked puffed pancake. You warm a skillet in the oven with a bit of butter set inside to melt and then whip up a quick, egg-rich batter in the blender. Once the butter is foaming, you pour some of it off into the batter, reblend quickly and then pour the smooth batter into the hot skillet.

Once in the oven, the pancake begins to brown and climb the sides of the pan. After 15-20 minutes of cooking, you’re left with a treat that is tender and creamy inside, and quite nicely crisped on the outside. Cut into wedges and topped with fruit, maple syrup or a smear of jam, it’s particularly good on cozy weekend mornings.

I used Melissa d’Arabian’s Vanilla Dutch Baby recipe as my guide (I have a weakness for anything that includes a healthy glug of vanilla extract) and was entirely pleased with it. I made the marinated blueberries she suggests and loved how they tasted dressed with a little sugar and lemon zest. It’s a great one for The Weekender, because it makes for an impressive presentation without a whole heck of a lot of work.

Before you start cooking, read these tips:

— In her recipe, Melissa calls for you to make the pancake in a large saute pan. I used a well-seasoned, 10-inch, cast-iron skillet and it seemed to be the perfect size and shape. For an even more impressive puff, you could use a smaller skillet. I wouldn’t recommend going much larger, though, as it might end up too thin and without those lovely high, curved sides.

— If you don’t have a blender in which to make the batter, I recommend sifting your flour well before adding it to the wet ingredients. That step will help you avoid lots of lumps.

— A puffed pancake doesn't only have to be a vehicle for sweet fillings. If you’re feeling daring, omit the sugar in the batter and try filling your Dutch baby with pulled pork or a mustardy cheese sauce.

Marisa McClellan is a food writer and canning teacher who lives in Center City Philadelphia. Find more of her food (all cooked up in her 80-square-foot kitchen) at her blog, Food in Jars. Her first cookbook, Food in Jars: Preserving in Small Batches Year-Round,  is now available.

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