KUALA LUMPUR, March 11 — Oh what a beauty. Crisp and fluffy on the outside, eggy and soft on the inside, this pancake is the stuff of legends, the magic dreams are built on.
The edges curl up like the perimeters of a custardy crater. Its molten centre is strewn with generous strands of uncured ham and oodles of burrata cheese.
Oh what a beauty. Oh this wondrous Dutch baby.
This was years ago. We were on our way to Tokyo’s famous Yoyogi Park when we decided to take the Odakyu Line rather than the more straightforward Chiyoda Line. Sometimes the road not taken isn’t half as fun as the path that we did take.
After getting off at the Yoyogi Hachiman Station, we took a slow stroll towards Yoyogi Park via tiny lanes. We took our time to enjoy the view: the elderly out and about early in the morning; the tidy row of shops selling their various wares, be it traditional fans or factory-produced soft toys; there were even 24-hour pachinko arcades.
Who knew what made us stop that day at this nondescript shop along the way but man, were we glad that we did! It didn’t look promising from the outside: a couple of upturned crates and small stools for patrons who smoked, that’s all.
Like all pancakes, the basic ingredients for a Dutch baby include eggs and flour.
What drew us in was the unmistakable aroma of something delicious baking in the oven, that universal fragrance that draws passers-by into restaurants, bakeries and cafés around the world.
What we smelled was a freshly baked Dutch baby, a sweet or savoury popover hailing from Germany (similar to the Pfannkuchen). First popularised in Seattle, this pancake is baked in a cast-iron pan and brought piping hot to the table. (It has nothing to do with the Dutch though; “Dutch” here is likely a corruption of “Deutsch” referring to the German immigrants to America.)
The molten centre. The custard and the crust. The salty strips of ham. The snowy-white, creamy cheese. So rich yet light at the same time.
Is it any wonder that one day we would endeavour to make our own Dutch baby back in the comforts of our own kitchen. You really ought to, as well. Trust me.
Whisk all the ingredients for the batter together till well combined.
DUTCH BABY WITH BACON AND BERRIES
The beautiful thing about a Dutch baby — and indeed, just about any pancake — is that you can have it sweet or savoury.
Consider your Dutch baby as a blank canvas (albeit a very, very buttery one) for whatever toppings, spreads or ingredients strike your fancy. Or whatever you happen to have in your pantry.
On one day you can drop in a couple of spoonfuls of chocolate hazelnut spread and scatter some of your favourite brand of granola over it. Nutty, chocolatey, perfect.
Bacon and other cured meats add a salty, savoury flavour.
On another day you might arrange a few thick discs of German sausages (a nod to the pancake’s origins) alongside a few slices of creamy Camembert cheese that will ooze pleasurably from the warmth of the Dutch baby.
Of course, if you’re greedy like me, why not have it both ways? There’s no reason why you can’t have a Dutch baby that is both sweet and savoury.
If you agree, then this Dutch baby with bacon and berries will be just right up your alley. Enjoy.
3 slices thick-cut bacon, roughly chopped
3 large eggs
125ml whole milk
60g all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
Handful of assorted fresh berries
Icing sugar, for dusting
Preheat the oven to 230°C. Fry the sliced bacon in a 8-inch (21 centimetres) cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Let it be in the beginning then turn occasionally after a few minutes once the bacon starts cooking and rendering its fat.
Whilst the bacon is frying, whisk the eggs, milk, flour, melted butter, sugar, salt, vanilla extract and nutmeg together. Mix the batter ingredients until well combined and smooth. Set aside.
Use a varied mix of whatever berries are in season.
Once the bacon is crispy, remove the skillet from heat. Transfer the crispy bacon bits to some paper towels to allow the extra drippings to be soaked up.
Leave a portion of the rendered bacon fat in the skillet, about 2 tablespoons. Return the skillet to the stove; allow to heat for one minute to bring the temperature up again.
Once more, remove the skillet from the heat and immediately pour the batter into the skillet. Place the skillet in the preheated oven. Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until the Dutch baby has puffed up and is golden brown in colour.
A Dutch baby is basically a pancake in a skillet.
Remove the Dutch baby from the oven. Sprinkle with bacon immediately; the heat of the pancake will warm the bacon bits up.
Top with various berries and dust generously with icing sugar. Serve the Dutch baby immediately whilst it’s still warm.
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