Friday, April 5, 2013

An Extra Special Weekend Brunch: German Pancake with Mixed Berries



We broke our meat fast on Easter Sunday by going to a place where Will can find reliably good bacon: Walker Brothers Pancake House.  The very first time we had their bacon, we wondered whether it was a mistake.  Can a restaurant serve up such thick, meaty, almost chargrilled-tasting fabulous bacon and not go broke?  We have come to appreciate the uniqueness of other Chicago-area brunch places since then, but we’ve never quite given up the allure of that bacon.

When we went there for our Easter breakfast—early, before 8:30 am, if you want to snag a table without waiting in a long line—Will did indeed get his bacon.  I got their special Apple-Cinnamon Pancake which is a plate-sized puffed up pancake layered with thin slices of apples and covered with a gooey caramel topping (that will tear off the roof of your mouth if you are too hasty).  I thought about getting another specialty, the German Pancake or a Dutch Baby (the smaller version of the German Pancake), but we decided to forego those since we can make those at home.

I was introduced to the German Pancake over 20 years ago and had a simple recipe then.  Hay Day Country Market Cookbook also has a recipe which turned out surprisingly like the traditional German Pancake—even if they call it “Oven-Puffed Pancake with Berries and Orange Sauce” (p.18-20).  To be honest, I think they added the berries and the orange sauce so that they would be able to claim it’s something other than plain old “German Pancake,” but that’s quite fine with me.  I skip the orange sauce and supply powdered sugar and lemon wedges (the traditional accompaniments for a German Pancake) along with warmed maple syrup.

Follow these simple steps for a not-too-sweet and rather impressive looking large pancake that should easily serve 4 (or more).  Be sure to have everyone ready since this pancake is best—ok, most impressive-looking—right out of the oven.

Ingredients and Steps:

1.  Preheat the oven to 450 degrees while you assemble your ingredients together: 3 T butter, ¾ cup flour, ½ t kosher salt, 3 eggs, 1 cup milk, 1 t vanilla extract, 1 (overflowing) cup of mixed berries.

2.  Put a 10-inch cast iron pan in the heated oven with the butter in it.

3.   Mix together eggs, milk, vanilla and then add this mix to a large bowl containing flour and salt.  Blend together with a hand mixer just for 1-2 minutes to thoroughly combine the liquid and dry ingredients.  By this time, the butter should be bubbling.


4.  Carefully remove the cast-iron pan from the oven and pour in the pancake mixture.  Quickly sprinkle berries on top.  Place the pan back in the oven, and bake for about 12-15 minutes or until the pancake is browned on sides and well puffed-up.  The picture above shows the pancake only a few minutes into the baking.  The picture below shows the pancake when it’s nearly done.  Observe how high the pancake rises around the sides of the pan.


5.  Remove pan from the oven and lift the pancake onto a serving platter, being careful not to let the pancake deflate too much (though it will certainly deflate a bit).  Serve with lemon wedges, powdered sugar, and warmed maple syrup (if you prefer).


Note: Try to let everyone see the baked pancake before cutting into it since the pancake will quickly collapse once you cut it.  


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