Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Blueberry Dutch Baby

Breakfast seems to be one of these meals we are often in a hurry to eat. Usually this means when going out for breakfast we set relatively short time parameters around the time it takes to place the order to the time it is brought to the table. Invariably we often avoid ordering any menu item requiring a twenty minute wait time. For some reason twenty minutes in the morning is considered an endless eternity. We need to convince ourselves we are much too busy to wait that long. Although we think nothing of waiting in endless lines at the coffee shop, at the ice cream shop on a really hot summer's day, or at an amusement park. Essentially our perception of 'too long' is consistently inconsistent. Because if we really want something badly enough, we usually manage to deal with the wait time.

Dutch Babies are those 'do I really have to wait twenty minutes?' breakfast menu items causing us some angst. As soon as we place a breakfast order for anything other than a Dutch Baby, it seems the universe conspires against us. Within seconds of the server leaving our table, another server delivers a a tray of Dutch Babies to the table sitting next to us. The sight of them immediately makes our mouths water or drool or both. Suddenly our perspective shifts and we silently admit a twenty minute wait is really not that long at all. So instead of going out for breakfast and not ordering what you  crave, why not just stay in and make some Dutch Babies!

With the possible exception of wild blueberries, you more than likely generally have all of the ingredients for the making of this Blueberry Dutch Baby on hand. Less time consuming than making traditional pancakes and with a greater visual wow factor at the table, Dutch Babies are an impressive breakfast or brunch dish. By using different seasonal ingredients (blueberries, apples) or simply topping with a homemade lemon curd you may never grow tired of either making and devouring them. 

A prior dutch baby recipe post (Dutch Baby, At Last) used slightly different ingredients in the batter. I would be hard pressed to say which one of these Dutch Babies I liked better. Although in one bite of this Blueberry Dutch Baby and I was immediately smitten with the flavor the smaller, wild blueberries, lightly sprinkled with fresh squeezed lemon juice and finished with a generous dusting of confectionary sugar brought to it. Unfortunately fresh wild blueberries (a much smaller version of the blueberries most of us are familiar with) are not readily available here in the midwest. Driving to Maine or Canada is not a feasible option, so I instead used frozen wild blueberries (with success!). The recipe in Yankee Magazine called for using only one half cup of wild blueberries, but I can tell you now your Blueberry Dutch Baby really needs somewhere between three-quarters to a full cup of them.

The key to making the batter for a Dutch Baby is three-fold: use the best possible ingredients, use room temperature eggs, and whatever you do, do not over blend the batter. A lumpy Dutch Baby batter is a really good batter.

Cast iron pans and Dutch Babies are inseparable. Not only do they conduct heat evenly, they can stand up to relatively high oven temperatures (like the 425 degrees (F) oven temperature called for in this recipe). Cast iron pans at antique stores or flea markets may be a little more expensive than the newer ones made today although either of them will work (this comes from someone who has both). Never ever use a non-stick pan when making a Dutch Baby. Both your pan and your Dutch Baby will be ruined.

Getting the cast iron pan hot is important when making this puffy pancake. The best way to accomplish that goal is to first preheat the oven before placing the pan with the three tablespoons of butter in it. Not only will your butter melt (within about a minute) perfectly, your pan will be evenly heated. Once the butter is melted, the batter is poured into the pan first and then topped with the blueberries. In about 20-22 minutes you will the most beautiful, insanely delicious golden browned, puffy pancake. 

As soon as the Dutch Baby has finished baking, remove from the oven and immediately squeeze a half of small lemon over the top and dust generously with confectionary sugar. Serve immediately! Because part of the experience of a eating a Dutch Baby is taking it in with your eyes make certain everyone is at the table ready and waiting as the Dutch Baby will slightly deflate in a relatively short period of time. While it is as delicious fully puffed as it is deflated, seeing it puffed might make everyone at the table think twice before passing on ordering a Dutch Baby the next time they go out for breakfast at a restaurant. Life may be short, but who wants a life without a Dutch Baby, especially a Blueberry one.

Blueberry Dutch Baby (slight adaptation to Yankee Magazine's Blueberry Dutch Baby recipe, July/August 2016)
Serves 2 generously and 4 slightly less generously

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole milk
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 Tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg or ground nutmeg
3/4 to 1 cup wild blueberries (fresh or frozen)
3 Tablespoon unsalted butter
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Confectionary sugar for finishing
Optional: Maple syrup

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees (F) and position rack to lower position in oven.
2. Lightly beat the flour, milk, eggs, sugar, salt and nutmeg. Do not over beat as batter should be slightly lumpy.
3. Place butter in 9 inch cast iron pan. Place in oven. Allow butter to melt (about 1 minute).
4. Carefully remove pan from oven, immediately pour batter into the heated skillet and sprinkle with wild blueberries. 
5. Place pan in oven and bake until puffed and golden, approximately 20-22 minutes. Remove from oven.
6. Immediately sprinkle with fresh lemon juice and generously dust with confectionary sugar.
7. Serve immediately.

Notes: (1) I used one cup of wild blueberries here, but 3/4 cup could work as well. Anything less and well, it wouldn't be as delicious, (2) In the midwest, finding fresh wild blueberries (from Maine or Canada) is a challenge. Most grocery stores sell smaller wild blueberries in the freezer section, (3) Serving with maple syrup is optional, but not necessary. Personally I prefer a Dutch Baby without maple syrup, (4) This recipe definitely calls for the use of a cast iron pan. You can find vintage cast iron pans in antique stores and some flea markets or you can find new ones in a good culinary store. If buying new would recommend Lodge cast iron pans. Everyone should have at least one cast iron pan and (5) Feel free to make the base of this Blueberry Dutch Baby using the Dutch Baby, At Last recipe posted on the blog.

Views in Bar Harbor and on Mt. Desert Island (Maine)

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