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Dispatches From Whitcomb Street

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Posts tagged breakfast:

popovers

Our favorite popovers are Marion Cunningham's, by way of Julia Child. And oh! What lovely popovers they are—big, handsomely popped beauties with melting-crisp crusts and custardy-smooth interiors. They’re delightful to bake—watching them climb up their tins and then steadily puff-puff-puff their way up and over the rims is so entertaining you can’t help but watch, crouched on the kitchen floor with your face pressed to the glass of the oven door. They’re fun to eat, with their layered textures and swirling bottoms that show food physics at work. It is impossible to leave a dish of heaped and napkin-wrapped popovers alone, even if breakfast is over and you are already full.

I will just tell you now that T is the best popover maker in the known world. You should probably just come to our house and eat the ones he makes. But seeing as how the logistics on that might be difficult, here’s a recipe. 

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big dutch baby with apples

Though beloved of diners and pancake chains everywhere, each and every big Dutch baby is always new and always interesting. It’s a kissing cousin of the delightfully named apfelpfannkuchen (which I think literally means apple pan cake, awesome) by way of the Pennsylvania Dutch. 

Yes, yes, okay. This Dutch baby is a big, puffed, gloriously sticky-sweet and rich thing, basically an enormous popover with its crisp edges and almost custardy center. Studded with caramel and tart apples, it’s an amazing breakfast that looks super-impressive while requiring a minimum of work. Prep the dry ingredients, the liquid ingredients, and the fruit (toss with the white sugar and spices to prevent browning) the night before, and all you need to do the next day is turn on the oven and hit a button on the blender.

Big Dutch Baby with Apples

Recipe adapted from a million places

You need about four medium apples, cored and sliced into 1/3”-1/4” slices, for one 12” cast-iron pan’s worth of Dutch Baby. Use tart-sweet varieties that cook nicely. 

Preheat the oven to 400F.

Melt a big knob - say 1/4 cup - of sweet butter in a well-seasoned cast-iron pan. Swirl it over the bottom and sides of the pan, and then scatter 1/4 cup of brown sugar over it evenly. Spread out your apple slices on top of this proto caramel; sprinkle with 1/4 cup of white sugar and then with a healthy sprinkle of powdered ginger and a teaspoon of cinnamon. You can do this on the stovetop or in the heating oven while you prep the batter.

The batter:

Whisk

  • 4 oz AP flour;
  • 1/2 tsp salt; and
  • a healthy pinch of ground nutmeg

together to combine. 

In a blender or a food processor, whir

  • 4 eggs; 
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons of milk; and
  • a splash of vanilla

until the eggs are well and truly broken up. Add the dry ingredients and process for thirty seconds or so, until the batter is completely mixed and looking foamy. When you take the cover off to check it, air bubbles should rise from its depths every second or two. 

(You can mix this by hand, too, just whisking hard for a couple solid minutes, but the machine will do the job more efficiently).

Your pan should be now be very hot and the sugar should be bubbling. Pour the batter carefully over the apples in the pan; it should sizzle at least a little as it hits.

Bake in the center of the oven for 25-30 minutes. Don’t crack the oven door at all, or at least not in the first 15 minutes if you absolutely must. The cake will rise and swell mightily, straight up out of the pan. It’s done when the center is set—a little jiggle is acceptable—and the curling edges are a deep toasty brown. Call everyone to the table and make them sit down.

Pull the cake out of the oven and serve in wedges straight from the pan. It will fall as soon as you cut into it (or it cools a little, whichever comes first—see below), so work fast. Serve with powdered sugar and lemon wedges, maybe a side of bacon or sausage. Take a long walk later; come back and eat the leftovers.

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Sunday breakfast

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I woke up on Sunday morning aching all over, my body attempting to untangle itself after what seems like the longest, most stressful trip I’ve ever taken. I like my Sundays—like puttering and pet-project-tackling and outside-going—and I was a little put out by the work week’s long fingers reaching into my cherished fourteen hours of pure, unadulterated Whitcomb Street time. 

So we made a Serious Sunday Breakfast. Things were rosy after that.

This is a Big Hotel breakfast—or rather, what you wish hotel breakfasts were, rather than the sad, dreary affair they usually turn out to be for $17 a plate (plus $6 for a pot of coffee). There’s nothing spectacular or special about it, but when you take the time to make everything just as good as it can be, it’s a beautiful thing. It’s meant for ease of timing and assembly—it would scale beautifully for six or even a dozen people if your pots and pans are large enough (yes, poached eggs and all).

Recipes and methods for compromise-free poached eggs, the best bacon, roasted asparagus, and perfect potatoes after the jump.

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