Dutch Baby with Quick Blueberry Sauce
Mike asked me if during the course of our FIFA World Cup (and Saucer) event I had written about a single team that went on to win their next game. I would like to point out that yes, I have. I wrote about Spain, so he can stuff it. I had also been building up my courage to write about Dutch cuisine before their win yesterday, but perhaps it’s a good thing that I waited considering my poor track record of cursing teams to failure. The other reason for my wait is that all of the Dutch food that I know is simmered, boiled or mashed and the weather hasn’t really cooperated with that plan. The sheer strength of will that it took me to turn on the stove for 2 hours and make German rouladen was exceptional, and I lost about six pounds of water weight in the process (but don’t worry, I promptly put them right back on in the form of bacon).
Yesterday it was a sweaty 32ºC, accelerated to 42°C with the humidity. For the Yankees out there, that means it felt like about 108ºF y’all, which is otherwise known as STINKIN’ HOT. It’s been like this all week with no signs of letting up for at least another day or two, and the A/C on my car decided to flunk out when the heat reached it’s peak. This has made me very grumpy.
On Tuesday I was on the way to an appointment when I got stuck in traffic for an hour. Slowly, wretchedly, I started to melt and visibly pool on the seat of my car. Sweat was trickling down and stinging my eyes. My hair was getting matted and the wet stains on the back of my tee shirt were starting to develop into very provocative images. It was not a pretty sight. When the traffic finally started to break I couldn’t see through the rivulets of salty humiliation draining down my face and I groped around desperately in my car for some Kleenex. Mike always keeps a stack of fast food napkins underneath his visor for just such an emergency, but apparently I’m not so forward thinking. I found a handful of dirty old gas station receipts on the ground, and some pale blue tissue that had escaped my gift bag from last week’s baby shower. I opted for the tissue.
Note: This was a mistake.
I had a valuable learning out of that episode, and it was don’t mop your face with gift wrap unless you want to look like Smurfette bred with a sea creature.
There is a point to that story, I promise. What I’m really getting at here is that I’ve had enough of the heat and there is no possible way that I’m willing to stir a boiling pot for an hour to make pea soup (despite how enjoyable it is to say, “I’m making SNERT!”). My constitution just can’t handle any slavink or hutspot until the heat breaks. To that end, in a shaky honor of Holland’s valiant efforts leading to the FIFA World Cup finals, I bring you…..the Dutch Baby, which isn’t actually Dutch at all.
The Dutch Baby is like a cross between a Yorkshire pudding and a light, buttery pancake. It is similar to a big, fluffy German pancake, but much lighter and airier. Also worthy of note is that the Dutch Baby might actually be an American invention, possibly by the Pennsylvanian Dutch. All this to say, I’m sorry Holland, but your delicious green pea soup is just going to have to wait for another time. You know, a time when I can bear the heat of my oven for more than 15 minutes intervals and I’m not tempted to heat up everything in the microwave. Please forgive me.
Dutch Baby with Quick Blueberry Sauce
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 eggs
- 1.5 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- pinch salt
- 1 tbsp butter
- icing sugar to dust
- lemon slices, optional
- 1 pint blueberries *
- 2 tbsp water
- 1/2 lemon (juice only)
- 2 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
- pinch salt
Special equipment: Small 6-8″ cast iron or oven safe ceramic skillet **
* You can use fresh or frozen blueberries. If you use frozen, reduce the water by 1 tablespoon.
** If you only have a large (10-12″) cast iron or oven safe ceramic skillet, feel free to use it….but double the ingredients for the Dutch Baby so that it fills and puffs adequately. You should have enough blueberry syrup to go around, even if you’ll need to be more miserly with it and nobody gets seconds for topping.
Preheat your oven to 475ºF with the racks in the middle.
Stir together the flour, sugar and salt in a mixing bowl. Crack in the eggs and add the milk and vanilla.
Whisk the mixture until it is like a thin crepe batter. Don’t overdo it, it’s okay if there are a few wee lumps of flour left to float around, but you should get a bit of a froth on top of the batter when you stop whisking.
Set the batter aside to rest at room temperature for 20 minutes.
Put the blueberries in a heat proof dish with a lid, like a Corning Ware. Sprinkle on the sugar, nutmeg and pinch of salt. Drizzle in the water and lemon juice.
Put the lid on your dish and microwave on the lowest possible heat setting for 2 minutes. Give the berries a stir, and microwave on very low heat for an additional 2 minutes. If the berries are not looking fairly broken down and saucy, repeat for another 2 minutes. The time will vary according to the power of your microwave. On the plus side, isn’t it better to turn on the nuker for a few minutes than to sweat in front of a pot at the stove?
I thought so too.
Sure, I’m making a farce of traditional Dutch cuisine by showing you a glorified pancake with blueberry syrup, but at least my pan is from…..
Oh crap. I did it again. Holland = Dutch, Denmark = Danes. Good lord, how I ever managed to pass an intermediate geography class is mind boggling. People of Holland: if I could genuflect whilst apologizing, I would. Sigh.
Put the empty and dry pan in your oven to heat up for at least 10 minutes. The key to an excellent and light popover/Yorkshire pud/Dutch Baby is to have a screaming hot pan, sizzling fat, and rested batter.
When the pan is well heated, carefully take it out of the oven (mind your hands and use sturdy oven mitts, please) and dab in the pat of butter. Because the pan is so hot, the butter will start to brown quickly. As it melts, swirl it around in the pan to coat the sides. Move quickly, because you don’t want your pan to lose it’s heat.
Turn the heat on the oven down to 425ºF.
Pour in the batter. You should see it immediately start to set around the edges and pull away from the sides of the pan.
Immediately tuck it into the oven and let it cook, undisturbed (don’t you dare open the oven door and let that glorious heat out!) for 12-15 minutes, or until the top is richly browned and you simply don’t see how it could puff any higher.
Like a soufflé, the Dutch Baby will heave a big sigh and start to deflate soon after leaving the oven, so if you’re serving this to other people find a way to casually herd them into the kitchen with you when it first comes out. After all, this might be the easiest breakfast dish that I know how to make, but a little, “Oooh…” and “Aaaaah…” never hurt anyone, and that’s what a puffy popover brings to the table.
When the Dutch Baby deflates there will be a well in the center. Sprinkle the pancake with icing sugar to make it all pretty-like, and then dollop the blueberry syrup into the center of the well. Serve the additional blueberry syrup on the side for people like me who like to carefully pour it into the hollow bubbles as we eat. Or, as an alternative, in Holland after sprinkling the Dutch Baby with sugar they will pass around fresh slices of lemon for people to squeeze onto the Dutch Baby, with fresh fruit on the side.
I couldn’t be bothered with something as simple and elegant as sugar and freshly squeezed lemon when there were syrupy berries to be had.
The shell of the Dutch Baby will still be light and airy, like a deep well of happiness in battered form.
I did try to show restraint and only cut a quarter of the Dutch Baby, but calling this recipe a serving for 2 is just much more realistic. After all, a hearty breakfast is the most important meal of the day! Right next to second breakfast….and lunch….and afternoon tea……and early dinner……..