With the last and first holidays of 2010 and 2011 fast approaching, Mary Wallgren has these words of wisdom to offer about weekend entertaining.
While the day after a party is usually a time to kick back and relax, wash the linens, and put away all the glasses and serving dishes, the holidays often bring out-of-town guests and the “opportunity” to entertain the morning after.
This year, our son and his friend drove up from soggy Southern California to enjoy a white Christmas and a few days away from the rain. While traditional breakfasts of bacon and eggs, omelets, hash browns, and/or pancakes are always welcome, I like to serve something special at least one morning during my company’s stay. My favorite recipe is Dutch Baby with Apple & Cranberry Compote.
Dutch baby, a baked pancake, is a simple but special holiday weekend breakfast dish.
Since this recipe takes a little more time to prepare than the traditional fare, it is ideal to serve for a late breakfast or brunch and looks pretty as well. I got this recipe a couple of years ago out of a Williams-Sonoma catalogue and have made a few changes. It does require a large (about 11-inch) oven-proof skillet. I use the old cast-iron skillet I got from my mother years ago, which is perfectly seasoned. There are some lovely new oven-proof skillets on the market today, but, as far as I know, they look prettier but don’t work any better. If you don’t have an oven-proof skillet, might I suggest the thrift stores or garage sales as a place to look?
Two other tips – the recipe calls for ¾ cup of cranberries. I like to buy them now while they are in season and often on sale and freeze ¾ cup portions in zippered freezer bags. The dry ingredients can also be measured out in advance to minimize work in the morning. It is easy to measure those ingredients a day or two in advance while I’m baking desert for the party since the ingredients are often similar.
Dutch baby is so popular that I never have any left over when serving four people. Fried ham is a delicious accompaniment. Enjoy the rave reviews!
Dutch Baby with Apple & Cranberry Compote
2 Pink Lady or other tart pie apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/4-inch slices (about 2 to 2-1/2 cups)
3/4 cup fresh or thawed frozen cranberries
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
2 Tbs. unsalted butter
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 Tbs. granulated sugar
Zest of 1/2 an orange
3/4 cup milk
3 Tbs. Unsalted butter
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting
Maple syrup for serving
In a bowl, stir together the apples, cranberries, the 1/4 cup granulated sugar, the cinnamon and nutmeg. In a skillet (NOT your oven-proof one) over medium heat, melt 2 Tbs. of the butter. Add the apple mixture and sauté until the apples are tender and the cranberries have broken down, about 12 minutes, adding the water halfway through cooking. Remove from the heat.
Put an 11-inch French skillet or other ovenproof sauté pan, such as a cast iron frying pan, in a COLD oven. Heat the oven to 400 degrees.
Meanwhile, put the eggs in a blender and blend on medium speed until very frothy, about 1 minute. (If your blender is as noisy as mine, this will probably wake your guests, if they are still sleeping.) Add the flour, salt, zest, the 1 Tbs. granulated sugar and the milk and blend on medium speed for 2 minutes, stopping the blender early on to scrape down the sides. Note – this needs to be done at least once.
When the oven reaches 400 degrees, put the remaining 3 Tbs. butter in the hot skillet and return it to the oven until the butter melts; do not let it brown. Carefully pour the batter into the hot skillet, then distribute the apple-cranberry mixture evenly on top, including any remaining liquid. Bake until the Dutch baby is lightly browned and the sides have risen, about 25 minutes.
Remove the skillet from the oven, dust the Dutch baby with confectioners’ sugar and serve immediately with maple syrup.
Serves 4 to 6.
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