One of the saving graces of this pandemic for my son has been his magnetic tiles. He puts them together and takes them apart as often and in as many ways as he wants. I feel the same way about milk, flour, eggs and butter: Four basic ingredients that can be mixed and matched and varied to create so many dishes.
That’s especially true for pancakes, which I’ve been on a bit of a kick for lately. Though I prefer buttermilk for my traditional fluffy stack, with that quartet you can pull together everything from thin crepes to thick, fluffy kaiserschmarrn. Vary the liquid, the leavening and the proportions, and you can play around with the texture and height that you prefer. Too many pancakes? Not in my book.
Now I have one more to share with you. It’s a Dutch baby, a puffy baked pancake that requires minimal time, ingredients and effort. You’re probably more used to seeing this morning staple come out of a skillet, but I couldn’t help figuratively slapping my forehead in a “no duh!” moment when I saw the large-format one peeking out of the pages at me in Edd Kimber’s new “One Tin Bakes,” which published here in the United States on Tuesday.
Kimber, winner of the never-aired-in-the-States first season of “The Great British Bake Off,” makes everything in this delightful, well-written cookbook (his fourth) in a 9-by-13-inch tin. It’s nothing fancy, a workhorse, yet when you put something as simple as this 5-minute batter in and bake it until the edges dramatically puff, you’ll be rewarded with something that looks, and tastes, absolutely impressive.
The recipe takes well to your choice of fruit. I tested with fresh berries, sliced peaches and diced apples and liked them all. Based on personal experience (that son demanding all the fresh berries), I wouldn’t recommend frozen fruit, as it bled and make the pancake soggy, though I did still enjoy it. If you prefer, you can bake the pancake first and then add the fruit to achieve a thinner, drier bottom.
This recipe is going into my regular breakfast rotation to jazz up what otherwise might be a meh morning. No one would complain if you served it as dessert, either, in which case you might want to drizzle with heavy cream or serve with ice cream. As long as you have the four main ingredients on hand, you’ll be ready to make it whenever, however.
Giant Dutch Baby With Fruit
Adapted from “One Tin Bakes,” by Edd Kimber (Kyle Books, 2020).
4 large eggs
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
Scant 1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole or reduced-fat milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
10 ½ ounces fresh fruit of your choice such as mixed berries, sliced peaches or diced apple
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
Position a baking rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees. Place an empty 9-inch-by-13-inch pan on the rack while you prepare the batter (see note).
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar for 30 seconds, until the sugar dissolves, then add the flour, milk, vanilla and salt, whisking to form a smooth, thin batter. Set aside for 20 minutes while the oven heats up.
Carefully remove the hot pan from the oven and add the butter, swirling the pan until it melts and coats the bottom. Pour in the batter, sprinkle the fruit on top and bake for about 20 minutes, or until puffed and golden.
The pancake will begin to deflate almost as soon as it comes out of the oven but will largely retain its puffy edges.
Dust the pancake with the confectioners’ sugar and serve immediately.
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
Note: The recipe calls for the tin to be preheated empty, which helps generate the signature puff. Some manufacturers, including Pyrex and Le Creuset, do not recommend doing this with their baking dishes. A metal tin is ideal.
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