Thursday, February 15, 2007

Snow Day II: Electric Bugaloo

As I suspected we might, we had another snow day today. (My first clue was that I couldn't even open the back door late last night to let the dogs out because it was blocked by a deep drift of snow!) Still, I've lived here for seven years, and the double snow day is heretofore unprecedented! This called for a special snow day breakfast, and I knew just the thing! Some years ago, I visited the Vermont Maple Festival, and there was a very popular fellow there named Ernie making something he called Finnish Pancakes. Luckily for me, he was distributing a handout with the recipe on it that I have since toyed with and merged with a couple of others. It closely resembled the "Dutch Baby" that I had been making from a King Arthur Flour recipe. And then I saw something very similar on Martha which she called Puffy Maine Pancakes, although she made smaller, individual pancakes from the batter. I have also heard this called a German pancake, and it is clearly the sweet cousin of the savory English side dish to roast beef, Yorkshire Pudding. More recently, I came across someone on the Cook's Illustrated message boards who shared the same type of recipe which she called "Huffy Puffy." That may be my favorite name, especially if you're making breakfast for children.

Whatever the nationality or moniker, this is a delicious and almost magical dish. When it comes out of the oven, it will have puffed up to double or even triple the height of the pan, though it deflates within a few minutes as it cools. Then the tender, eggy, custardy creation is served with maple syrup or fruit preserves or--and this is my preference--a drizzle of browned butter and a thick snowdrift of powdered sugar. That's why I think that this is the perfect breakfast during a blizzard! (Though it would be just as tasty in tropical climes, I'm sure.) Some folks might even prefer this as a dessert, especially with a fresh berry sauce or maybe some fried apples instead. Yum! You could pop it in the oven just as you and your guests are sitting down to dinner, and have that big "wow" moment as you pull the puffy, golden beast from the oven and bring it to the table. And the applause will turn to grateful tears and perhaps hugs for the chef once they taste it. Don't believe me? Try it and see what happens!

Snow Day Baked Pancake
(serves 4, or 2 if it's for me! tee hee)

4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cup milk (or better yet, half-n-half!)
2 tablespoons vanilla sugar (or granulated sugar and a splash of vanilla extract), optional
pinch of salt
*a little nutmeg or cinnamon would be optional, but I don't prefer it
4 tablespoons butter
confectioners' sugar, for dusting

1. Heat oven to 425° Place eggs, flour, milk, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl; whisk until combined. Batter may still be slightly lumpy. The batter may be made a day ahead and chilled overnight, but it's just fine if you don't.

2. Melt the butter in a 9 x 13 pan in the preheated oven (you could halve this recipe and make it in n 8 x 8 pan, too). Once melted, pour the batter into the hot pan and return to the oven. Bake until pancake is golden brown and very puffy, 15-20 minutes. Drizzle with a little browned butter and dust liberally with confectioners' sugar; serve immediately.

1 comment:

kitchenmage said...

Damn, that's pretty! I need to find a different pan for my puffCakes - my current ones don't give me the huge puff thing...sloped sides, maybe? You also use more milk... Hmm, this is obviously a cause for research. I shall have to suffer and make this. For science, of course.