Sunday, October 16, 2011

Dutch babies

Nothing can get me out of bed on a Sunday morning like the prospect of pancakes - even if I have to make them myself. At the end of a busy week, there's something immensely luxurious about having enough time in the morning to make a really good breakfast. Some people like omelettes, others prefer waffles or French toast. I like those things too. But my favourite is pancakes.

I've tried many pancake recipes over the years and am always on the lookout for more. This latest one is from Molly Wizenburg's A Homemade Life.

When we first heard of this book, my sister and I wondered out loud, "She's barely thirty years old - what could she possibly have to talk about in a memoir?"  
Turns out, to write insightfully about life, it's not how many years you've lived, but how much you can squeeze from those years, that matters. Molly has had some interesting, enviable experiences (studying and working in Paris, for example) but on the whole, her life sounds just like yours and mine...starting over in a new city, trying to carve out a career, making friends, finding love, learning how to say goodbye...and through it all, being comforted, nourished, and enriched at a dinner table with beloved faces around it and a good meal on top of it.

The truth is that life is mostly ordinary, but if we keep our eyes open and our hearts and minds alive to every moment, then there's something beautiful and wise that can be extracted from even the most mundane things. As Molly puts it, "In the simple acts of cooking and eating, we are creating and continuing the stories that are our lives."

Molly, bless her, is also a self-declared firm believer in recipe-sharing, so I'm sure she wouldn't mind at all if I pass along her recipe for Dutch baby pancakes.  Here's to living ordinary life to the full - especially on Sunday mornings.

Adapted from Molly Wizenburg,
A Homemade Life
Serves four (or two really hungry people)

This is a baked pancake. You will need an 8-10 inch cast-iron skillet or a metal or glass cake pan or pie plate. You will also need a pastry brush and a blender.

2 tablespoons butter
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup half-and-half
pinch of salt
lemon wedges and confectioner's sugar, for topping

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

If using the skillet, melt the butter over low heat. If using the cake pan, melt the butter in the preheated oven. Use a pastry brush to coat the sides of the skillet/pan with the melted butter.

Blend together the eggs, flour, half-and-half, and salt. Pour the batter into the warmed skillet/pan and slide into the preheated oven. Bake for 18-25 minutes. The sides will rise and puff quite dramatically.  It's ready when the puffed sides are golden brown, and the middle part looks set, though flat, and covered with a glossy sheen of butter.

Remove from the oven and serve immediately. Cut into wedges and drizzle generously with lemon juice and confectioner's sugar.


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