The disconcertingly-named Dutch baby is yet another of those transatlantic conundrums that sits squarely in the 'same thing, different name' corner of baked goods (as opposed to the 'same name, different thing' corner, of which biscuits are a prime example). Originating in Germany as pfannkuchen, the recipe was then popularised in the United States by European immigrants where it was purportedly renamed Dutch baby by a Seattle-based cafe in the early 1900's, and the name stuck.
My initial thoughts of it being the bastard child of a pancake and Yorkshire pud were surprisingly not far from the truth - with the (naturally) more cutesy American interpretation being that: "were a pancake and a popover to fall in love, this would be their (Dutch) baby". Popovers, as it turns out, are just Yorkshire puddings baked on the other side of the pond (and in butter rather than beef dripping) so, you know, same thing etc. etc. Whatever you like to call it, a Dutch baby is typically eaten as a sweet—for either breakfast or dessert—smothered in lemon juice and sugar, or lashings of jam and cream. And much like its predecessors it is also primarily a vessel, so whatever you choose to slather it in, make sure it's delicious.
DUTCH BABY (Adapted from Spuntino by Russell Norman)
- 130 g plain flour
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- A pinch of salt
- 200 ml cultured buttermilk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 large eggs
- Caster sugar, to dust
- Jam (see below) & crème fraîche, to serve
Begin by preheating the oven to 220°C. Place two, 18-cm skillet pans on a baking tray, add ½ Tbsp vegetable oil and a small knob of butter to each, and then put them in the oven, to warm up (the hotter, the better).
Meanwhile, whisk together the flour, brown sugar and salt. In a separate bowl, beat the buttermilk, eggs and vanilla, then make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and whisk in the egg mixture, until the batter is smooth.
When the oil in the skillets starts to smoke, quickly pour in the batter and bake for 15-20 minutes, until puffed and golden. Remove from the oven, sprinkle generously with caster sugar and serve with fruit jam and a good dollop of crème fraîche.
STRAWBERRY & PASSIONFRUIT JAM (inspired by a recipe from Diana Henry)
- 500 g strawberries, hulled & roughly chopped
- 4 passionfruit
- The juice of 1 lemon
- 350 g caster sugar
Place the strawberries and passionfruit pulp in a pan over low-medium heat and gently simmer, until soft (I like my jam chunky, but you can also mash the strawberries with a fork at this point, if you prefer). Stir in the lemon juice, then bring to a rapid boil. Slowly add the sugar, stirring to dissolve in between each addition, then simmer vigorously for 10-15 minutes, until setting point is reached (this is a soft set jam). Pour into sterilised jars, and seal.