Thursday, April 19, 2018
Cooking

Dutch babies 101: What they are and how to cook them, plus recipes

When it comes to pancakes, I usually go Dutch.

A Dutch baby — also known as a German pancake, David Eyre's pancake or a Bismarck — is the preferred pancake of weekend mornings in my house, and I'm convinced it should be in everyone's home.

For the uninitiated, a Dutch baby is a large baked pancake akin to a popover. Its shape varies slightly each time. Mine often looks like a swollen, edible sombrero, with a golden dome in the middle and a puffed-up matching rim, until it deflates. The way the golden brown pancake balloons to twice the height of the pan it's baked in before collapsing in on itself is hypnotizing. And then you get to dress it up with toppings.

But I'm not in this for the drama alone. The batter is easy to make and the recipe is a breeze to memorize. The golden brown edges are crisp and the folds within the pancake contain a custardy yellow center that's a soft place for syrup and other toppings. Also, a Dutch baby pancake lets the oven do most of the work. It beats the flipping and babysitting required of old-fashioned pancakes.

As spectacular as Dutch baby pancakes are, I don't see them on a lot of local restaurant menus, so the magic is a little easier to capture at home. I picked the brain of Times food critic Laura Reiley, who said she once spotted them on the menu at Élevage in Tampa, but they're gone now.

Related: Tips for making Dutch baby pancakes, plus topping ideas

A restaurant in Indianapolis has had Dutch baby pancakes on the menu since it opened in fall 2014. At Milktooth, a modern diner focused on brunch that I discovered on Bon Appétit's 2015 Hot 10 restaurant list, sous chef Josh Kline said there are always two versions of Dutch baby available: one sweet, one savory. Flavors change seasonally, four to six times a year.

"The inspiration for just about everything on the menu is to take something familiar and elevate it a bit," Kline said. "Everyone expects a pancake on a brunch menu, but you rarely see something like a Dutch baby because of time constraints."

Seconds after leaving the oven, the baked pancake starts to deflate. That hasn't deterred Kline from baking thousands of them.

One of his favorite versions was a summertime Dutch baby inspired by maque choux, a Cajun corn stew similar to succotash. He coated corn and zucchini in Cajun spices and tossed that with smoked andouille sausage and a drizzle of aioli to brighten it up.

For fall, he has made a pumpkin spice version. Another kind was topped with an oatmeal dukkah streusel and pureed parsnip. On the menu now is one with crab apple curd. One type he hasn't been able to make work? A pad thai version using spaghetti squash in place of noodles — but he's working on it.

That's the best thing about a Dutch baby: its endlessly adaptable nature. It provides a solid base for both savory and sweet additions.

Kline said he likes the sound of my Everything Bagel Dutch Baby, which is the best case I've made for a savory Dutch baby pancake in my own kitchen.

I've included a basic recipe for a Dutch baby, along with a couple dozen ideas for dressing it up. There's also the savory bagel-inspired recipe, as well as a mini version of the pancake so you can brunch by yourself.

Ileana Morales Valentine reviews cookbooks and writes about cooking for the Times. She can be reached at [email protected]

   
Comments
A taste test for drinking water? They can be surprisingly different

A taste test for drinking water? They can be surprisingly different

BROOKSVILLEThey brought it in glass carboys, in jars, in 2-liter bottles. It stacked up at the entrance to the auditorium, some of it just slightly murky but most of it crystal clear.Water. For more than 15 years the members of Region IV Florida Sect...
Published: 04/18/18
Five ideas for travel-friendly snacks

Five ideas for travel-friendly snacks

Whenever I fly, I pay way too much for food. Iíve stumbled jet-lagged into fancy wine booths and nearly bankrupted myself with cheese plates. Iíve purchased granola bars that cost more than my plane ticket (okay, maybe it just felt that way). If youí...
Published: 04/18/18
Enjoy a slice of sunshine with Tangerine, Ginger and Chocolate Tart

Enjoy a slice of sunshine with Tangerine, Ginger and Chocolate Tart

There are chocolate people, and there are vanilla people. I am a lemon person.Show me a dessert menu, and Iíll choose whatever is flavored with puckery lemon or any of her citrus sisters ó lime, tangerine, kumquat, yuzu. Even as a kid, I went for lem...
Published: 04/17/18
Recipe for 30-Minute Spaghetti and Meatballs

Recipe for 30-Minute Spaghetti and Meatballs

As the name suggests, 30-Minute Spaghetti and Meatballs is no substitute for the kind of meatballs simmered for hours in your nonnaís Sunday gravy. Strangely enough, the recipe doesnít even include oregano or basil or a dry Chianti. And yet I think t...
Published: 04/17/18
Re-create that fancy spa water at home

Re-create that fancy spa water at home

It was lunchtime in the middle of the workday, so although I sat at the bar at downtown St. Petersburgís Asie Pan-Asian, I opted for a water. The bartender poured a glass and I took an unknowing sip.Cucumber. It was definitely cucumber. Iím not the b...
Published: 04/17/18
Taste test: citrus-flavored sparkling water

Taste test: citrus-flavored sparkling water

Many years ago, I took a trip to Rome and learned enough Italian to find directions and order dinner from menus. I learned very quickly that if I didnít make it clear, I would get sparkling water rather than still water at every restaurant. My husban...
Published: 04/16/18
Hereís how to make shakshuka, the egg dish with the awesome name

Hereís how to make shakshuka, the egg dish with the awesome name

By Rick NelsonSuddenly, it seems like shakshuka is everywhere.Restaurant menus. Food Network how-to shows. YouTube videos. And on breakfast, lunch and dinner tables in homes across the country.Maybe the dishís ascendancy can be traced to cookbook aut...
Published: 04/11/18
Cooking Challenge: Making a bowl of fancy bacon-and-egg ramen at home

Cooking Challenge: Making a bowl of fancy bacon-and-egg ramen at home

My boyfriend, Ben, screws a nail into the cork of our Bread and Butter wine bottle. Iíve recently moved into my own apartment ó the first step in a fully adult life ó but apparently, Adult Me doesnít own a bottle opener. Tonight, Iím cooking my first...
Published: 04/11/18

From the food editor: Homemade biscuits make the meal

Raise your hand if you have leftover Easter ham in your freezer. Yeah, me too. Itís not every day I pick up a large cured ham at the supermarket, so when holidays come around that call for the pork centerpiece, I always try to think of at least three...
Published: 04/10/18
Spice up salmon with this tarragon vinaigrette

Spice up salmon with this tarragon vinaigrette

A good piece of fish needs very little to make it perfect. Here, the anisey-tangy flavor of tarragon vinaigrette is a wonderful complement to the lushness of salmon fillets. If you start with excellent salmon and super-fresh herbs, and donít overcook...
Published: 04/10/18