Somewhere in junior high I took a class, something like Home Ec, where we learned how to cook. I don’t recall much except that the teacher was stern but kind, and imposed exacting rules around things like sifting flour (which I still don’t usually do), scraping the bowls clean with a spatula (which I now sometimes do), and room temperature versus chilled ingredients. This kind of precision and specificity I associate with those who love to bake. I have learned that I am not really great at that kind of precision in the kitchen. I like to be a little loose when I cook.
In the class, we learned how to make Dutch babies, something for which I have a lifelong fondness because it’s my first memory of a really successful cooking project. There’s a straightforward alchemy to it: you toss together a few ingredients and slide them into a warmed skillet. It goes into the oven and transforms into this wonderful, puffed up thing that deflates a little as it cools, but is warm and comforting and just delightful. And best of all, it’s so simple. It doesn’t demand the precision of other kinds of baked goods. What better way to turn a bunch of pre-teens on to the magic of cooking? She was a smart one, that stern but kind lady. Of course we would be wowed by Dutch babies.
Dutch babies have been on my to-make list for years, but when I stopped eating wheat, I figured that it was another baked good that was no longer an option. (I have wrongly abandoned so much, thinking that without wheat it was pointless. It’s been awesome to rediscover so many foods.) This recipe is from Green Kitchen Stories; I’ve been wanting to make it since they posted it last year. They call it a fat almond pancake, and I love that name. And while it’s not exactly a Dutch baby, that’s the memory it evokes, and the two are similar in spirit. It’s reminiscent of a soufflé or bread pudding. As long as you don’t expect a conventional pancake when you tuck into this soft, melting dish, you’ll be pleased as punch.
BAKED ALMOND PANCAKE WITH STRAWBERRIES + CITRUS
adapted from Green Kitchen Stories
Serves 6 to 8
5 eggs, whisked
2.5 cups almond, soy, dairy or other milk of choice
1 cup almond flour
2 tablespoons brown rice flour
2 tablespoons unrefined cane sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons butter
2 cups sliced strawberries
2 blood oranges
2 tablespoons unrefined cane sugar
1 lemon, sliced into wedges
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Place a 10×12-inch baking pan in the oven to preheat.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs. Combine with the almond milk and set aside. In another large mixing bowl, combine the almond flour, brown rice flour, sugar, baking powder, and sea salt. Slowly whisk the wet mix in with the dry, mixing vigorously to incorporate. Melt the butter in the heated baking pan. When melted, swirl it around the pan, then mix the rest into the pancake batter. Give the batter one last thorough mix, and pour into the hot baking pan.
Bake at 425 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes, until the pancake is puffed and golden and firm at the center. It will still be rather wet when ready.
While the pancake bakes, place the strawberries in a bowl and set aside. Using a sharp knife, supreme the citrus. Slice away the top and bottom end. Stand the citrus upright, and slice away the outer peel and pith, working in a circle around the citrus. Slice each fruit about 1/4-inch thick lengthwise, and then quarter each slice. Add to the bowl with the strawberries. Toss the fruit with the cane sugar and set aside to macerate, stirring occasionally.