People talk about having drama in their lives like it's a bad thing.
Granted, no one likes drama involving teenagers, bank balances or cellphones dropped in lakes.
But when drama emerges from eggs, flour, milk and sugar, that can be a very good thing. With Oktoberfests on the horizon, a theatrically puffed German pancake is a delicious way to lend some pizazz to a celebratory brunch, or a simple breakfast.
The trick is having everything - and everyone - ready at the moment the pancake is done. The entertainment value of this German treat is being able to witness its poufy drama before it quickly, inevitably, begins to deflate. Cut and served with the season's best apples, sautéed in butter and sugar until they begin to caramelize, a German pancake can bring down the house.
Heat is the key to your pancake achieving the greatest inflation. A preheated pan does double duty, melting the necessary butter, then crisping the bottom surface of the batter to keep it from sticking to the pan.
The resulting pancake has the bite of a crepe, the loft of a souffle, the egginess of custard and the brown shoulders of a popover. Some like to serve it with preserves or fresh fruit. A squeeze of lemon juice and a dusting of powdered sugar is traditional. Crumbled bacon and maple syrup could be ready for their close-up.
Because a German pancake bakes in only 15 minutes, you can serve one while a second one bakes, which is nice if you're serving a number of people.
If there are kids in the kitchen, turn on the oven light so they can watch the batter rise and inflate into eggy escarpments. If there only are adults, turn the light on anyway.
Because we all like a little drama in our lives.
German Puffed Pancake
Note: The recipe is for a 10-inch ovenproof skillet or round cake pan, but can easily be doubled and baked in a 9- by-13-inch pan (metal or Pyrex.) This recipe, often also called Dutch Baby, is adapted from "The Joy of Cooking," although we halved the amount of butter. (Don't worry; there's still plenty.)
2 tbsp. butter
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 c. milk
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 c. flour
1/4 c. sugar
Pinch of salt
Sautéed apples, see recipe below
Preheat oven to 425 degrees with rack in the middle position. When the oven is at the proper temperature, put the butter in the baking pan and place in oven to melt the butter and preheat the pan.
In the meantime, whisk together the eggs, milk and vanilla extract in a small bowl.
In a larger bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar and salt. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk together until batter is smooth and only a few lumps remain. It's OK to have a few; you don't want to overbeat the batter or the pancake could become tough. You also can combine all the ingredients in a blender, processing until just smooth.
Once the butter is melted and begins to sizzle, carefully pour the batter into the hot pan. The butter will disperse to the edges. Do not stir.
Bake for 15 minutes, until puffed and golden.
Bring the puffed pancake out for people to see, then slice and serve with sautéed apples and a sprinkling of cinnamon.
Nutrition information per serving (without apples): Calories: 210 Fat: 9 g Sodium: 130 mg; Carbohydrates: 26 g Saturated fat: 5 g Calcium: 55 mg; Protein: 6 g Cholesterol: 110 mg Dietary fiber: 0 g.
Diabetic exchanges per serving: 1 bread/starch, 1/2 other carb, 1/2 medium-fat meat, 11/2 fat.
2 large baking apples such as Cortland or Haralson
3 tbsp. butter
3 tbsp. sugar
Cinnamon for garnish
Peel and core the apples, then slice each into about 12 slices, thick enough that they'll hold their shape and not melt into applesauce.
Melt butter over medium heat in a shallow saucepan, then add apples and sugar, stirring gently to coat. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until apples soften and begin to color a bit. Set aside on lowest heat to keep them warm until the pancake is done.
Nutrition information per serving: Calories: 165 Fat: 9 g Sodium: 76 mg; Carbohydrates: 23 g Saturated fat: 5 g Calcium: 9 mg; Protein: 0 g Cholesterol: 23 mg Dietary fiber: 1 g
Diabetic exchanges per serving: 1 fruit, 1/2 other carb, 2 fat.