Brunch on Sunday is my favorite meal of the week. Unless someone is craving dim sum, we rarely go out. Instead, I scour the fridge for anything edible and create a gleeful explosion of pots and pans in our own kitchen.
This morning, I was inspired by my Smitten Kitchen cookbook, which features a recipe for a gingerbread dutch baby. That was an adventure in itself. We’re not really sweet-breakfast people. Sometimes we eat pancakes, but mostly our brunches are eggs and bacon and toast. But I pulled out my cookbook, which hasn’t yet failed to impress us, and 25 minutes later my oven gave birth to a gingerbread dutch baby.
As promised, it was tasty. We loved the texture – a little crispy, a little custardy – and it was a perfect cross between a pancake and crepe. Not bad. But I couldn’t help but wonder what would happen if I took that sweet little baby and made it savory. There are so many options because it’s spring. Just last night while walking my dog, I swiped a few branches of rosemary from a neighbor’s giant front-yard bush. Fresh herbs would be the perfect addition to the dutch baby. Parmesan would help it grow up a little.
So I riffed on the book recipe. I omitted the molasses, brown sugar, and spices. Instead, I used herbs and grated Parmesan cheese. And during the butter-melting stage, during which the pan and its sides are coated in the stuff, I sauteed a little minced shallot for flavor and texture. The pancake came out of the oven puffy, with high crispy edges.
Almost immediately, though, it sank into submission on the plate. I sprinkled it with a little bit of grated cheese and minced herb.
Then we dug in. It was everything that I’d dreamed of. That perfect crunchy-custardy texture was enhanced by little nuggets of crispy shallot. And the flavor was everything I’d hoped it would be: bright from the herbs, deep from the cheese. I will absolutely be making this again and I hope you give it a shot, too.
Herb-Parmesan Dutch Baby
(adapted from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman)
2 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup milk
40 grams flour
3 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs (parsley, basil, rosemary, thyme, etc) or 1 tablespoon dried herbs
1 shallot, minced
2 tablespoons butter
Preheat your oven to 400.
In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs thoroughly. Add the salt, pepper, Parmesan, milk, and flour. Whisk until well-combined, then stir in the herbs. (Alternatively, you can do this in a blender).
In a 9-inch sauté pan, melt the butter over high heat. While it’s melting, add the shallot. Be sure to brush the sides of the pan with melted butter. When the butter is fully liquid and the shallot is beginning to sizzle, add the batter.
Pop the whole thing in the preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes.
Serve hot, garnished with fresh herb and a little more Parmesan. I thought the pancake was custardy enough that it didn’t need sauce, but you could also serve it with a little bit of whipped cream cheese or creme fraiche.