It seems I find myself in the job market, again. Unfortunately, this is not a foreign shop to me, having spent way too many months (years) in the not so distant past searching the aisles, putting things in my basket, only to remove them again. Let’s face it. Nobody likes shopping the job market, not really. It’s an “as needed” activity. Certainly there’s a little anticipatory excitement as you consider the ingredients in the listing, how the final dish might taste, and what you have in your kitchen that could work. But the daily scan of the shelves isn’t really how I’d chose to expend my time, nor I’d guess, would you. Yet, sometimes you just have to.
I’m not going to share the whys or WTFs of finding myself shopping once more. I’ve been down these aisles before, and know both that it’s a grind, and really boring if it’s not happening to you. But I do promise I’ll share the next course on my menu once chosen, and where that meal will be served. In the meantime, all this hunting and hurling oneself at want-ads wears a girl out. It also makes her very hungry for something comforting, a little special, and entertaining. Luckily, I stumbled upon the perfect recipe for that – pfannkuchen.
First, it’s fun to say. Go ahead, say it. Pfannkuchen. Anything you pronounce that even remotely makes that sound is fun. Plus it means pancake, and no one can be blue when there are pancakes!
This particular pfannkuchen is also known as a german pancake, or a dutch baby. Basically it’s one big oven-baked pancake. What makes it even better is how it looks as it bakes. This baby starts out as a lightly-sweetened custard, which you pour into a hot cast-iron skillet judiciously shmeered with butter. Now comes the fun part. As it bakes it starts to puff up in what can only be described as undulating pancakey ripples, browning as they rise. It’s immensely entertaining! Serve it up hot from the oven with a generous blizzard of powdered sugar and squeeze of lemon, or do like I did and top with some balsamic and sugar-macerated strawberries.
I’ve a feeling there will be more of these as my shopping continues, perhaps for dinner, with some bacon and brown sugar whiskey sauce. Because sometimes, you just have to…
Dutch Baby Pancake (Oven Pfannkuchen)
I found this recipe on Alton Brown’s website, altonbrown.com, and like it a lot. I used both a generous sprinkle of powdered sugar, along with 1/2 cup sliced strawberries tossed and left to sit an hour (or longer) with a teaspoon balsamic vinegar, a tablespoon sugar and a grind of black pepper. Trust me, it works!
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- 2 1/2 ounces (72 grams) all-purpose flour, approximately 1/2 cup
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup whole milk, at room temperature
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Powdered sugar, for serving
- Lemon wedges, for serving
Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Put 1 tablespoon of the butter in a 10-inch cast iron pan and heat the pan in the oven for 10 minutes. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and set aside to cool slightly.
(In Alton’s recipe, he calls for adding the dry ingredients to the blender, then the wet, and blend. I’ve discovered from past recipes that when you do it in that order, you often get a clump of flour in the bottom that stays in there like cement. I reverse the order, wet first, then dry.)
Whisk together the flour, sugar and salt and set aside. In a blender, add the eggs, milk, vanilla and melted butter, and blend until smooth. Add the flour mixture and blend on high until smooth and frothy, about 30-45 seconds.
Carefully remove the hot skillet from the oven and immediately pour the batter into the center. Bake for 15-20 minutes, do not open the oven while baking. The Dutch baby will puff up in the center and the edges will be dark and crispy. (If you are concerned that one part is getting too dark, loosely cover that part with foil.
Serve warm with a sprinkling of powdered sugar and lemon wedges, the strawberries, or anything else you like to top with!
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