Thursday, March 5, 2009

A Wood Stove, an Ice Storm and Deutschkuchen - German Pancake or Dutch Baby

I was a cold and blustery night. March was coming in like a Lion, as it is apt to do. Whether it "went out" like a lamb remained to be seen. Had Punxsutawney Phil been scared of his shadow? Freezing rain was falling sideways, due to the tempestuous East wind blowing down the Columbia Gorge. A present from the Canadian tundra. Eurus was making his displeasure known. Morning broke over a world still sleeping under a blanket of ice. A still life portrait, preserved behind glass. Yeah, no school today and, not surprisingly, no electricity either... Time to fire up the old cook stove and keep warm and to heat up kettles of water to carry out to the animals' water troughs to melt the ice.

Ah, but all was not lost... For it was going to be one of THOSE mornings. One may be wet from slipping and falling on the ice and chilled to the bone from braving the gale force winds to feed and water, or melt water, the animals... But Mom was, inevitably, standing at the cook stove making a German Pancake (Dutch Baby). That makes it ALL worth it.

Yes, the above story is true... Although maybe slightly embellished in the fact that my mother would make this at other times, but the occasions that seem to stick out in my mind are those bad weather days, when school was out, everything was frozen, the power was out, and we huddled around the cook stove until it came back on... Sometimes days later... I know, very "Little House on the Prairie" ain't it? We DID have indoor plumbing though. Well, that is, until the pipes froze. Ya know? You would be surprised how much snow you have to melt to fill a bucket for manual flushing... OK, yeah... That's not just another post, I think that is another Blog. Sorry... Moving on now.

Since my week has been pure hell at work, culminating in today's complete and utter cluster (insert foul word here). Hey, this is a Family Blog. I needed a comfort food for dinner. I can think of nothing that tastes as delicious as the food your mother is cooking in a wood cook stove, by candle and kerosene lamp. The wind-chill outside is so low it feels like needles, even through your coat. While you are inside and toasty warm, the incredible smell of faint wood smoke and baked goods wafting through the house, listening to the staccato of ice chunks falling on the roof as the wind kicks at the upper tree branches.

This is basically a spin on Apfelpfannkuchen, closely related to the Yorkshire pudding of England, though a sweet version of England's savory dish.

German Pancake or Dutch Baby

2 TB Butter
1 - 10 - 12 inch Cast Iron Skillet (you can use any oven safe skillet, but it wont taste the same)
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup AP Flour
1/4 tsp Mace or a few grates of Nutmeg
Juice of 1/2 Lemon (I used my last Meyer Lemon this time)
Confectioners' Sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Melt Butter in the skillet over medium heat. (Don't let it burn, but it does need to be hot)

Whisk Eggs and Milk together.

Add Flour and whisk again (don't worry if there are a few lumps)

Add Mace and whisk until incorporated (again, don't worry about lumps)

Pour batter in the center of the skillet, the butter will float up and cover the out rim of the batter.

Place in the oven for 15-18 minutes, until puffed and golden brown.

Squeeze lemon over the whole thing, then sprinkle with powdered sugar.

I cut mine with a Pizza cutter, it's just easier.


Oh, in case you were wondering, I had scrambled eggs with it... Not really a recipe... Just the way I like them. My mother use to include a little cream cheese in her scrambled eggs. I tend to use mascarpone, cause I usually have it on hand.

Simply 3 eggs whisked with pepper, salt and a little tarragon.
About 2 tsp Mascarpone added as the eggs start to set so it can melt in with the partially cooked eggs.
A little but of Green onion added with the mascarpone so they are still slightly crunchy.
Remember though, if they are done in the pan, then are over-cooked by the time they get to the plate, so quit scrambling just 'before' they look like they are done.
Sprinkle with a little Pecorino Romano, Flat Leaf Parsley and a little more Black Pepper.



Bob said...

I don't think I've ever had a german pancake. That looks mad good though, I would love to try it.

Spryte said...

Yum!! I'd love to try that!!