Sourdough Dutch Baby.

Continuing on the theme of crazy Springtime weather, I heated my kitchen this morning by turning on the oven. I'm not sure I've ever made a Dutch Baby before, or why it popped into my head this morning. It's possible that the dinner I had with friends last night (in which we declared the burritos to be as big as babies, and jokes circulating about babies, D. stating that he felt so full that there was a baby in his belly...) seeped into my subconscious and I had babies on the brain as soon as my feet hit the floor this morning.

Dutch babies are essentially egg heavy pancakes that are baked instead of griddled. I shouldn't say that I've never eaten them, since I have under the name of oven pancake. I did some summer camp cooking when I was younger, and a staple of the health-minded cook I worked under was the oven pancake. Huge amounts of eggs, unrefrigerated, lest she would cause you to lose your fingers she assured us, flour and enormous baking sheets, and slabs of gelatinous puffy pancake was baked short order for hungry middle-schoolers. About half of the kids didn't like it, but I always did, and I figured a cold morning was just as good a time as any to revisit this taste memory.

I also have this renewed love for my cast iron, and while the home-baked oven pancakes of my past were done in glass, I liked the idea of using a skillet. I also liked the idea of using up some sourdough starter. In short order, I found this amazingly detailed and sound recipe for them that met my desired criteria. By the time the oven was heated, the batter was blended and the dishes already done.

I used a number 5 Wagner skillet, which oddly is about 6 1/2 inches of cooking surface, and nearly 8 inches across the top. I had a thinnish pancake, that didn't puff tremendously... but I think I'll let the skillet get hotter before adding the batter next time. I also have a well-seasoned pan, so I only used about a tablespoon of butter. I had no sticking, the butter was buttery in the surface of the finished pancake.

Sourdough Dutch Babies (from InnerLodge. See the original recipe for pan size/cook time ratios.)
  • 1 T. butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 c. sourdough starter (mine is 100% hydration)
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of sugar (could use honey or maple syrup), optional
  • 2 T. milk
Preheat oven to 425.

Blend eggs, starter, salt, milk and sugar if using. You can use a blender, or do it by hand.

When oven has come up to temperature, place butter in the skillet, and place the skillet in the oven to let the butter melt. (You can also let the brown the butter if you prefer.) When the butter is melted, and the pan hot, remove the pan from oven. Pour in the batter, return to oven, and bake for 10-15 minutes until the pancake is puffy and lightly browned.

Out of the oven, it will start to deflate immediately. Sprinkle it with powdered sugar when it's still hot, and when it cools a bit, it will form (and this is for you, Julia) a "pellicle" of sorts as it melts into any butter that pooled then baked on top...

I will confess that the Boy-O didn't like the Baby. He was excited, in his nearly-5-year-old rational way of thinking he said "WOW. That pancake will be the same size as that pan?" It's possible he thought it would just be a giant sourdough pancake, which he is accustomed to eating. When I cut it into quarters, dispersed the blueberries, drenched it in maple syrup it still didn't appeal to him - but to his credit, and my amazement, he did try it 4 times. What possibly did not appeal to him were the things that did appeal to me: the slightly sour, fermented sourdough flavor, the wiggly mouthfeel, the eggy oven pancake taste that I was after.

I brewed some coffee that I drank hot, I put on another shirt over the long sleeve one I was wearing. After a belly full of sweet breakfast, I have decided to pretend today is late September and not mid-June, and I look forward to a day of indoor organizing, cleaning, and maybe making these before heading across the street to a birthday party this afternoon. Meanwhile, the garden grows, I save my energies for the work I know is coming... the Dutch Baby tucked into my sourdough arsenal for quick, cool morning breakfasts in the future.