Showing posts with label Dutch Baby. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dutch Baby. Show all posts

Friday, March 1, 2013

The What If Apple Recipe

by Sheila Connolly

Mystery writers often ask themselves "what if I…" particularly when they're stuck on a plot point. What if I add an evil twin?  What if the gun is hidden in the flour bin? What if the victim is not really dead?

I'm always on the lookout for apple recipes, and I have been for years.  Some of them I never even tried—just filed them away for some future date.  Seems like the future has arrived, and I pulled out a recipe for what was called "Apple Dutch Baby."  The dish is basically sautéed apples with a batter poured over them, and then the whole thing is baked. I had to look up the history of the term "dutch baby" but my general impression was that it is kind of a giant pancake with stuff in it.

The recipe also reminded me of clafouti, a traditional French dessert, usually made when the first cherries of the new harvest (of course Julia Child pointed me to it).  It's very similar:  fruit-batter-bake.

But in both cases, the batter is moist and eggy.  That's not a bad thing, but it wasn't what I was looking for.  Then I remembered one of my favorite British/Irish pub dishes, Toad in the Hole.  This is savory: link sausages-batter-bake. We eat that a lot in my household, in part because the fat from the sausages makes it crunchy (if done right; otherwise it's eggy, see above).

What if I combined the two recipes?

Cortland apples
The first hurdle that I could see was that the apples, which are sautéed in butter first, might produce a lot of liquid.  It's important to (a) pick the right apples, that won't turn to watery mush when you cook them; and (b) cook them well with plenty of butter.  Hey, it's a dessert—indulge yourself!

The second hurdle was adjusting the batter so that it was less eggy, which meant reducing the number of eggs and increasing the flour.  I also wanted it to be a bit sweet and spicy, so I added some sugar and some ground cinnamon.

Toad in the Hole is traditionally made in a skillet or baking pan (it resembles Yorkshire pudding, which soaks up pan drippings so nothing from a roast is wasted).  I am a firm believer in using as few dishes as possible, since nobody in our family likes to wash dishes, so I opted for the skillet version—that's a cast-iron skillet, that heats up high and holds the heat, and can go straight from stovetop to oven.

So here we go:  The What If Recipe

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.


1 cup whole milk
2 eggs
1 cup white flour
2 Tblsp sugar
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp salt
2 Tblsp vanilla extract
1 Tblsp melted butter

Combine all the ingredients in a blender or food processor, then blend for a minute (a full minute—this is important, so time it), right before you're ready to bake.


2 Tblsp salted butter
3 medium cooking apples (like Cortlands), peeled, cored, and sliced thickly
2 Tblsp sugar

Melt the butter in a 9" cast-iron skillet, then add the apples and sauté on medium-high heat until they begin to brown just a bit.  Sprinkle the sugar over them and continue cooking for a couple more minutes. (If the mixture looks soupy at this point, drain some of the liquid off.)

When the apples are just about ready, make the batter.  While the apples are still over the heat on the stove, pour the batter over them (the batter should sizzle around the edges) and immediately place the skillet into the preheated oven.  Bake for 30 minutes.

Ready for the oven

If the kitchen gods are smiling on you, the batter will puff up and turn golden and crisp.  This is a dish that should be served as quickly as possible, while it's still warm.  You can sprinkle it with powdered sugar if you want.

It worked!
I love it when a plot comes together!

 Buried in a Bog -- now in its second week on
the New York Times bestseller list!

Friday, May 7, 2010

"Cake Pan" Dutch Babies by Cleo Coyle

Looking for a fun breakfast or brunch? A Dutch Baby, also known as a Bismarck, German Pancake, or David Eyre's Pancake is a lovely idea. (Eyre said he found the recipe in a 1919 cookbook and Craig Claiborne popularized it by printing it in The New York Times back in 1966.) This giant pancake is quick, easy, dramatic (and thus fun for kids). I actually call it my "Poor Girl's Soufflé" because the ingredients are so common, the method so simple.

There are many variations of this pancake out there. Some recipes tell you to use a blender. In my opinion, you don't need one. A hand whisk is all I've ever used to blend ingredients. Some recipes tell you to use a big, cast iron skillet. You don't need one of those, either.

While I often use an *oven-safe* skillet for this recipe, I began to worry (as I considered this post) about the occasional cook out there who may not have a truly oven-safe skillet in his or her cupboard.

Because a Dutch Baby is really just a giant popover, there is no artificial leavening (baking powder or soda). A preheated pan in a very hot oven is what makes the pancake rise (via steam), and there are far too many pans out there that are not oven safe (their handles, for instance, will melt in a very hot oven).

What to do? Well, I reasoned that almost every kitchen has a cake pan in its cupboard and cake pans are certainly safe to place in a screaming hot oven. Hence the unique "Cleo" name of my recipe for you today...

Cleo Coyle's
"Cake Pan"
Dutch Baby

For a PDF version of this recipe that you can print, save or share CLICK HERE

Makes 1 giant Dutch Baby pancake for a 9-inch cake pan


2 large eggs
1/2 cup whole milk (or whatever you have on hand - I've used lowfat and half-and-half!)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (feel free to experiment with other flavorings: cinnamon, vanilla or almond extract, orange zest, or my "Cappuccino" Dutch Baby, see below**)
3 Tablespoons of butter (salted or unsalted, I've used both)

Finish with:

Classic topping: Lemon juice from freshly cut lemons
and confectioner's (icing) sugar (see my "Coffeehouse" musings on this flavor combination at the end of this recipe :-)

Other topping ideas: Maple syrup, fruit syrup, honey, whipped cream, fresh berries, yogurt, or a squeeze from an orange wedge


Step 1 - Screaming hot oven: First place a cake pan in your oven. Then preheat your oven to 450° Fahrenheit. (Note: If you have an older oven, you may need to preheat your oven for a good 30 minutes to get a true reading of 450°-- to read my post on whether your oven is lying to you, click here.)

Step 2 - Whip up batter: Using a simple hand whisk, blend your eggs, milk, flour, salt, and flavoring(s). Set aside.

Step 3 - Melt the butter: When your oven is fully preheated and your cake pan hot, put on an oven mitt and remove the cake pan from the oven. Throw in your 3 Tablespoons of butter and quickly swirl the pan so the butter does not brown or burn. When most of the butter is melted (not all just most), pour in your Dutch Baby batter.

Step 4 - Bake and serve: Place the pan bake in the hot oven and bake for 7 or 8 minutes. You may need an extra minute or two, depending on your oven. You should see a dramatic rise in the pancake as in my photos. Remove the pancake from the pan to a serving dish and finish with (depending on your flavorings...) a classic squeeze of lemon and a generous dusting of confectioner's sugar (aka icing sugar). Or you might be finishing it with a squeeze of orange and confectioner's sugar. Or a drizzle of sweet, warm maple syrup; your favorite honey; or whipped cream and fresh berries, or whatever strikes your gastronomic fancy.


**Cleo's Cappuccino Dutch Baby

In Batter Ingredients -

(Replace 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg with...)
3 Tablespoons cofectioner's sugar
1 Tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon instant espresso powder

Finish with...

A dusting of 3 Tablespoons confectioner's sugar mixed with 2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder

Cleo's final
"Coffeehouse" musings...

The first time I tried a German pancake was years ago on a long driving trip with a group of friends across the state of Pennsylvania, where I was born and raised. We stopped at a pancake house, and my friends, who were used to pancakes with whipped butter and maple syrup, blanched at the thought of lemon and powdered sugar as a topping on any pancake. Are you kidding?

But this made absolute sense to me because I knew of old Italians who liked to drink their espressos with this flavor combo. They would rub the rims of their demitasse espresso cups with lemon, encrust them with granulated sugar (by inverting on a dish, just as you'd encrust the rim of a margarita glass with salt). They would then fill their cups with hot espresso and sip their java through the lemon-sugar. (BTW - This is not an authentic Italian method of drinking espresso. As far as I know, this lemon-sugar method arose among Italian-American immigrants.)

Consequently, the idea of lemon-sugar sounded wonderful to me. And it was :-) The classic lemon-sugar Dutch Baby topping is still my favorite. I find it so much lighter and refreshing than traditional maple syrup. My husband and I often share a big Dutch Baby in the morning, simply cutting it in two. You can also cut it like a pizza, into four wedges, and share it with others as part of a larger breakfast spread.

~ Cleo Coyle, author of 

To get more of my recipes,
enter to win free coffee, or
learn about my books,
including my bestselling
Haunted Bookshop series,
visit my online coffeehouse:

The Coffeehouse Mysteries are national bestselling
culinary mysteries set in a landmark Greenwich Village 
coffeehouse, and each of the ten titles includes the 
added bonus of recipes. 


The Ghost and
Mrs. McClure

Book #1 of 

The Haunted Bookshop
, which Cleo writes
under the name Alice Kimberly
To learn more, click here.