I am please to announce that I have found the holy grail of quick meals: the Dutch Baby. Also known as a German pancake, this dish is baked in the oven an is sort of a cross between a regular pancake, a frittata and a Yorkshire pudding / popover. The batter is like a runny pancake batter with a little bit more egg to it. This eggy rise in the oven gives it a crustiness of a frittata, and it’s also cooked in a cast iron pan. And like a Yorkshire pudding, the pan is preheated empty in the oven, coated in butter, and then the batter is poured into the piping hot vessel and left along to cook. The kids love it and, given enough hot sauce, Jimmy loves it too! This staple meets a number of criteria for a quick main meal:
- Quick. Assuming about 15 minutes to preheat the oven to 450 degrees, this dish can go from zero to sixty in thirty minutes.
- Throw-togetherable. I’ve never been good at “winging it” when it comes to meals; generally I plan everything out for the week an leave nothing to chance. Given the fact that I’m currently phoning in most of life, I’ve had to go to the pantry plan-less more than once in the past couple of weeks. Dutch Baby to the rescue! If you have milk and eggs and an otherwise reasonable stocked pantry, you can make a Dutch Baby!
- Leftover stretcher. Typically I stretch leftover veggies, meat, etc. over rice or in a soup. The Dutch Baby can act as a blank canvas on which reheat leftovers can be applied.
- Customizable. My kids love meals in which they can choose what to put on. Think taco bar, bake potato bar, bibimbap. Add Dutch Baby to the mix.
- Can double as entree or dessert. The basic recipe can be garnished with savory items an then the remnants can be garnished with sweet things (powdered sugar, Hershey’s syrup) too.
The basic recipe that I use come from What Do You Crave, which I found on Pinterest. It has a higher egg:flour ratio than some of the other standards, which I like. It calls for cheddar and spinach to be added to the mix, but you can omit these and add a splash of vanilla extract instead to make it sweet. I like to keep the cheddar in it for savory preparations, as it adds a nice saltiness to the mix rather than actual salt, which can inhibit the rise of the eggs.
Some useful tips to make it even easier:
- Mix up the eggs and milk in a blender to get them nice and frothier, then whiz in the dry ingredients and add-ins.
- Just before mixing up, preheat your oven. Let the batter rest while the oven is preheating. During this rest time you can prep your toppings
- If you are doubling the mixture, do so in two separate cast iron skillets or 8×8 pans rather than one large casserole, otherwise the middle won’t rise as well, and more edges=more delicious crust.
Here’s some toppings that have proved popular:
- Breakfast at dinner: bacon, sausage, sauteed veggies, another egg
- Mexican: beans, chorizo, cheese, avocado, salsa
- Herby: sauteed leeks & mushrooms, chives
- Summertime: tomatoes, basil, mozzarella
Remember: any of these toppings can be added to your base as well!