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Dutch Baby/German Pancake with Spiced Apples

I’ve been wanting to make one of these eggy treats – called Dutch baby or German pancake –for quite a while and it wasn’t until I saw it being made on America’s Test Kitchen that I finally got around to it. Well, that’s not exactly true. I tried making one about a year ago and it wasn’t exactly photogenic, unless you consider this a beauty (which I don’t).

But I should have had a bit more faith, since the center started to deflate after a minute or two of removing it from the oven, bringing in the sides to form a high ridge above the custardy center. I was starting to become a believer. By the time I spooned all the apples to the interior, it was a vision of deliciousness and we couldn’t wait to dive in.

The key to this Dutch baby’s success has a lot to do with an unusual approach to oven temperature. It seems counter intuitive, but you start it in a cold oven, cranking it to 375 degrees only after you place the pan in the oven. Starting it in a cold oven allows for a slower build-up of heat, so the center can start to set before the oven reaches the temperature necessary to give the highest lift to the rim (which takes about 25 -30 minutes). A lot of Dutch babies have a very thin base, but this technique allows for a thicker center, which is more satisfying to eat and better able to serve as a base for the apple topping. It slipped out very easily from the cast iron skillet I used onto a serving platter.

This apple Dutch baby recipe also calls for the apples to be cooked separately in a saucepan, rather than cooked with the batter, ensuring that you don’t end up with a heavy, leaden pancake.

Spoon the apples over the Dutch baby, then either sprinkle with powdered sugar or serve with maple syrup. Cut a slice or two for yourself. It would be a delicious way to start the new year.

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Dutch Baby/German Pancake with spiced apples
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 ¾ cups (8¾ ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 3 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 ½ cups milk
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • FOR THE APPLE TOPPING:
  • 2 large apples
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ⅓ cup water
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
Instructions
  1. Whisk flour, 3 tablespoons sugar, lemon zest, salt, and nutmeg together in large bowl.
  2. Whisk milk, eggs, and vanilla together in second bowl.
  3. Whisk two-thirds of milk mixture into flour mixture until no lumps remain, then slowly whisk in remaining milk mixture until smooth.
  4. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position.
  5. Melt butter in 12-inch ovensafe nonstick skillet over medium-low heat.
  6. Add batter to skillet, immediately transfer to oven, and set oven to 375 degrees.
  7. Bake until edges are deep golden brown and center is beginning to brown, 30 to 35 minutes.
  8. While the pancake is cooking, prepare the apples..
  9. Peel them and cut into ½ inch slices
  10. Add 2 tablespoons butter to a skillet and melt.
  11. Add ½ cup water, ¼ cup brown sugar, ¼ teaspoon cinnamon and ⅛ teaspoon salt.
  12. Cook until the sugar is dissolved.
  13. Add the apples and cover the pan, simmering for five minutes.
  14. Remove the lid and cook for another five to ten minutes, allowing the most of the water to evaporate and the syrup to thicken.
  15. Remove the skillet with the pancake from the oven, and carefully lift out of the skillet onto a serving dish.
  16. Spoon the cooked apple slices to the center of the pancake.
  17. Cut into wedges and serve.
 

Pork Tenderloin with Stewed Dried Fruits

Still undecided about what to make as your main course this Easter? For us, it’s typically lamb, or sometimes ham, but if you want to try something different, yet festive, easy and delicious, then give this recipe a go. Roast pork and fruit are a delicious pairing and perfect for any holiday or special occasion. It won’t keep you from your guests for long, since it can be prepared ahead of time and takes only a half hour to cook. You can roast the meat while you’re sitting down to pre-dinner drinks with friends and family. Stew the fruit the night before to save time, but even this takes only 15 minutes. I bought an assortment of dried fruits – peaches, apples, pears, prunes and apricots, plus some orange and lemon peel – and covered them with boiling water, a bit of sugar and a cinnamon stick and whole cloves.

The fruit can sit in the fridge overnight, and you can reheat it at the last minute, while the meat is resting. After you slice the meat, arrange the fruit around the sides, and pour both the meat juices left in the roasting pan, and the fruit juices all over the meat.

Buon appetito e Buona Pasqua a tutti.

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Pork Tenderloin with Stewed Dried Fruits
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 2 pork tenderloins (about 1½ pounds each)
  • Dijon mustard
  • salt, pepper (or herbed salt)
  • herbs de Provence
  • about two cups of mixed dried fruits (apricots, prunes, apples, pears, peaches)
  • water, to cover
  • ½ cup sugar
  • a few strips of orange peel
  • a few strips of lemon peel
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • a couple of whole cloves
Instructions
  1. Bring the meat at room temperature and dry with paper towels.
  2. Smear a little olive oil on the bottom of a roasting pan.
  3. Place the meat on the pan and smear with a light coating of Dijon mustard.
  4. Season with salt and pepper (or herbed salt) and a light sprinkling of herbs de Provence.
  5. Place the meat in a 375 degree oven for 20-30 minutes or until a meat thermometer reaches 140-145 degrees. (The temperature will continue to rise for a bit when you take it out of the oven.)
  6. Remove from the oven and let the meat rest for 10 minute, then slice.
  7. FOR THE STEWED DRIED FRUIT:
  8. Place the fruit in a saucepan with water to cover.
  9. Add the sugar, the citrus peels, the cinnamon and the cloves.
  10. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes or until fruit is softened.
  11. Remove the citrus peels, the cinnamon stick and the cloves.
  12. Remove from the heat, and serve along the sides of a serving platter with the sliced meat.
  13. Pour the juice from the fruits and any juice from the meat (on the carving board) over the sliced meat.
 

 

 

Upside Down Apple Cake

What? Another apple cake recipe, when there seem to be a plethora of them at this time of year? Well yes, because A) Like cheesecake, you can never have enough apple cake recipes and B) This one is an upside-down apple cake, a cake oozing with sticky, buttery and sugary goodness that I can’t get enough of.

If you’ve followed my blog over the years, you know I’ve made upside-down cakes using lots of different fruits, including the classic pineapple, but also pears, figs, blood oranges, plums, cranberries, peaches, and there are still more to try.

This cake would make a nice addition to the traditional pumpkin pie on your Thanksgiving table, too. I made it twice in the last week or so, once with walnuts added (top photo) and the second time without walnuts, (photos below) but with an extra caramel sauce drizzled on top. It doesn’t really need either item, but the caramel sauce helped disguise a crack in the center of the cake after I flipped it too vigorously onto the plate.

And speaking of the plate, isn’t she a beauty? That two-toned blue and beige platter was made by a friend of mine – a gifted potter named Jacalynn McCord. I hadn’t seen her since we graduated from high school eons ago, but we recently reconnected at a reunion and had a blast catching up. Back when Cher was still not allowed to show her naval on TV,  Jackie and I (along with some other classmates) were members of a folk-singing group. We played the world-famous nursing home/bar mitzvah circuit, singing covers of Joan Baez and Bob Dylan songs – and even cut a record! But that was two or three lifetimes ago.

Jackie went on to study art and become a talented potter and runs a business called Lion Paw Pottery. The name derives from her alma mater, Penn State University, whose mascot is the Nittany Lion. Many, but not all, of her designs feature lion paw prints (for those diehard PSU fans) and she’ll custom-make an item too. You can peruse her website here.  I think her platter shows off this cake beautifully, and I’m sure you readers will be seeing it on future posts featuring other foods as well.

Just a word about the cake – It’s delicious at any temperature, but best the day it’s made, and when it’s warm from the oven, it’s irresistible.

Upside Down Apple Cake
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • FOR THE APPLES:
  • ¾ cup lightly packed brown sugar
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • pinch kosher salt
  • 2 apples, peeled, cored and sliced ½" thick
  • FOR THE CAKE:
  • 1¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¾ tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup lightly packed brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup milk
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease with butter and dust with flour an 8" round cake pan. (I used a springform pan, but some of the butter leaked causing spillage in the oven. If you use a springform pan, place it on a cookie sheet with a sheet of aluminum foil, or parchment paper underneath it.)
  2. In a small saucepan over medium heat melt brown sugar, butter, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt.
  3. Cook until slightly thickened, about two minutes.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder cinnamon, salt and nutmeg.
  5. In another large bowl, using a mixer, beat together butter and sugars until softened.
  6. Add eggs one at a time. then add vanilla.
  7. Add half the dry ingredients to wet ingredients, beating until just combined.
  8. Pour in milk and mix until fully incorporated.
  9. Add remaining dry ingredients and stir until just combined.
  10. Pour batter over apples and bake until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean 1 hour.
  11. Let cool in pan 15 minutes, then invert onto a cooling rack and let cool completely before slicing.
 

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Pear Apple Crostata

Last week I promised you this recipe, courtesy of my friend Jan who brought it for dessert recently following our dinner of stuffed shells. It was warm and beautiful. I wish I had thought to take a photo of the entire thing before we sliced into it, but one can only resist so much temptation. You can call it a galette, a croustade, a crostata or even an open-face pie. But whatever you call it, call it fantastic.

Jan used dried cranberries and dried cherries, but if you don’t have both, you can substitute more of one or the other. Eat this warm topped with a scoop of ice cream, and it could become your go-to dessert.

pastry crust:
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon peel (maybe even a little bit more, but not a tablespoonful)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chilled unsalted butter cut cross-wise in 1/2 inch slices
1/4 cup or more heavy cream

Whisk flour, sugar, lemon peel, and salt in medium bowl. Add butter; using pastry cutter, blend butter with flour mixture until coarse meal forms. Drizzle 1/4 cream over; toss with fork until moist clumps form adding more cream by teaspoonfuls as needed if dry. I added 2 more teaspoons. Gather dough into ball; flatten into disk. Wrap in plastic and chill at least 1 hour. You may do this a day ahead. In that case, let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before rolling out.

Filling:
5 firm but ripe Bartlett pears, peeled cored, and thinly sliced
1 large granny smith apple, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons dried cranberries
2-3 tablespoons dried cherries
5 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons all purpose flour
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons (maybe a bit more) finely grated lemon peel
1/4 teaspoon (generous) ground nutmeg
heavy cream for brushing
sliced almonds for edge

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Mix all fruit, sugar, flour, lemon juice, lemon peel, and nutmeg in a large bowl to coat. (I whisked together the sugar, flour, lemon peel and nutmeg before adding the juice or the fruit.)
Roll out pastry on sheet of floured parchment paper to 14inch round, Transfer crust on parchment paper to baking sheet. Mound fruit in center of pastry, leaving a 2 inch border all around. Fold pastry border over fruit, crimping slightly. Brush edges with cream and gently press on sliced almonds.

Bake until filling bubbles and almonds are lightly toasted, about 1 hour. Cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature with vanilla ice cream if desired.

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