Yummly Essentials: A Savory Dutch Baby for Dinner
The puffy pancake wows everyone at breakfast, and will make an even bigger splash at dinner! Try the savory side of Dutch babies with this quick and easy weeknight recipe.
Article and recipe by Sara Bir. Photographs by Olga Ivanova.
My brother-in-law learned how to make Dutch baby pancakes way back in home ec. My nieces and nephews all celebrate when he bakes one on the weekend in between his first cup of coffee and sitting down to read the paper, and he loves how something so easy can get everyone so excited. As he’s enjoying the second cup of coffee, the Dutch baby’s in the oven, magically transforming from a humble batter to a puffy delight.
At breakfast, Dutch babies are often served sweet, with maple syrup or cooked apples. But imagine getting the same happy oohs and ahhs when you make a savory Dutch baby pancake for dinner. Serve the eggy pancake with a simple salad and convenient smoked salmon or trout to make it extra filling. It’ll bring the joy of those lazy weekends to your weeknight supper table. At my house, the savory way is the only way we eat Dutch babies.
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What is a Dutch baby pancake?
Regular pancakes are griddled on the stovetop, and they’re usually individually sized. A Dutch baby pancake is a super-sized popover made from a thin batter and baked in the oven in a hot skillet. The batter is made of milk (whole milk or low-fat), large eggs (three, in this recipe), plus a little all-purpose flour, and salt (I like to use kosher salt). It’s quite similar to crepe batter, but it bakes up airy at the edges instead of flat, and golden brown. Some people call them German pancakes — as it turns out, their origins are actually German, not Dutch.
How to make a savory Dutch baby
Breakfast Dutch baby recipes usually have a little sugar and maybe some vanilla in the batter. I leave those out for my savory version, and add a little Parmesan cheese to the batter — not enough to make it cheesy, but enough to make it clear this isn’t sweet brunch fare. Think of it as a lazy deconstructed quiche.
Melted butter is a fixture of sweet Dutch baby recipes. There’s butter (unsalted butter or salted) in the skillet itself, and often some mixed into the batter. I’m using extra-virgin olive oil here, for multiple reasons: it’s convenient (no need to melt), it holds up well to the heat of the pan, and it matches with the accompanying salad. That salad has a little more cheese tossed with it, so you get another layer of Parmesan flavor.
How to customize a savory Dutch baby
The flexibility of this recipe makes it a great go-to for nights when you don’t have a lot on hand.
Use spinach, baby kale, or salad mix for the baby arugula.
Swap cherry tomatoes for the roasted red pepper.
Leave out the smoked fish, or use canned tuna, chopped ham, or crumbled bacon instead. You could also go with fried eggs.
Add chopped fresh herbs like fresh thyme, parsley, or chives to the batter after you blend it. Maybe some black pepper, if you like. Feel free to garnish with more of the same, plus some smoked paprika.
How to get a puffy Dutch baby
The dramatic way a Dutch baby puffs up around its edges is a big part of its appeal. Fortunately, an un-puffed Dutch baby is still plenty delicious (especially considering how Dutch babies lose their puff after a few minutes out of the oven).
To get that trademark puff, there are a few things you can do:
Use room-temperature eggs and milk. This isn’t always possible for a recipe you put together quickly after work, true. However, you can speed up the process by placing raw, in-shell eggs in a bowl filled with warm water for up to 20 minutes.
Blend the batter for the full minute, as directed. Use a timer if you need to.
Be sure to preheat the skillet and olive oil before you pour batter into it. (A cast-iron skillet is perfect here, but you can also go with an ovenproof stainless steel frying pan.) If the pan and oil don’t seem hot when you take them from the oven, heat the skillet on the stove until you see the oil rippling.
Be okay with variation. Every Dutch baby comes out a different way. Just go with it. The surprise is part of the fun!
How to make a Dutch baby without a blender
OK, so you don’t have a blender? Don’t let that keep you from making a Dutch baby. Just whisk the eggs and salt in a large bowl. Beat in the flour until you only see tiny lumps, then add the milk and whisk until slightly frothy. Whisk in the cheese last and you’re good to go.
Make-ahead options for a Dutch baby
You can make the batter up to a day ahead and refrigerate it. Ideally, pull it from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before you pour it into the hot pan so the Dutch baby will puff up grandly, but if that’s not feasible, don’t worry about it.
What to do with Dutch baby leftovers
While the dressed salad part of the recipe won’t hold up so well, if you happen to have leftovers of the Dutch baby pancake, consider tearing them into small pieces to add to brothy soup instead of noodles or dumplings. It’s fantastic!
Get the recipe
Ready to give this baby a whirl? Of course you can keep it in mind for brunch as well as dinner.
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