A puffy-centered, crisp-edged oven-baked pancake flavored with soft lavender and filled with bright berry compote. Top with lavender whipped cream for ultimate brunch-master status.
I don't know if you've been getting the days-long downpour I've been working with this week, but either way, I've got a recipe that never fails to brighten my day: I give you the Brambleberry Lavender Dutch Baby!
Okay, so it's a weird name, but hear me out: it's so, so, SO good.
A dutch baby is a buttery oven-baked pancake that puffs up with soft, golden-brown splendor in the middle and crispy, browned edges. The classic way to eat it is with powdered sugar and a little lemon, but you can also top it with fruit or even savory toppings like eggs and avocado.
The first time I heard about a Dutch baby, also known as a puff pancake or German pancake, was watching Alton Brown's Good Eats. He explains that it's basically a big, sweet popover, using pretty much the same ratio of eggs, flour and milk as both those and Yorkshire pudding.
I've since made them all, and while they're all delicious the Dutch baby has unquestionably been my most-repeated of the three.
You can mix dutch babies with a bowl and a whisk, but lately I've been using my food processor, which is the perfect size for the batter. It makes the batter nice and smooth, and takes up a lot less dishwasher real estate.
I also recently started letting the batter rest, a tip I gleaned from The Kitchn. It allows the flour to absorb the liquid, PLUS it makes it unnecessary to start out with room temperature eggs, which is an easy and annoying thing to forget.
Dutch babies are fascinating to me because the way they puff up is like magic, but it's really all smoke and mirrors. Or steam and mirrors, to be precise. As the liquid heats and vaporizes, it expands between the fat and flour for a puff that ages much better than the sleeves in your childhood photos.
Which brings up an important point. Avoid the temptation to open the oven too early when you make your Brambleberry Lavender Dutch Baby! And it will tempt you.
Trust, my friend. Maybe use it as motivation to clean your oven window, which I may or may not need to do as well.
Back to the name. I did look around internet-land for the reason behind it, and like Alexander Hamilton, I will never be satisfied.
Basically the prevailing story is that while its roots are in Germany, the name "Dutch baby" originated at Manca's Cafe in Seattle in the 1900's, where they subbed in "Dutch" for "Deutsch" (German for "German"—think the Pennsylvania "Dutch", who are actually German).
The thing is, that's not the part I'm curious about. I want to know why it's called a Dutch baby. When you talk about eating that beautiful Dutch baby and going back for seconds around unwitting strangers, which part is it that gets the stares and questions?
"Ma'am,* I couldn't help but overhear you were going to eat a Dutch baby, which is disturbing, because clearly the baby would be Deutsch, which is German," is never how the conversation goes. If you said the baby-eating, you were correct. Pick up your prize on the way out, it's a Brambleberry Lavender Dutch baby recipe.
*Please don't call me ma'am.
The Brambleberry Lavender Dutch Baby is a brunch favorite among guests of the Cavalier household, which we've had a LOT of this summer. It works out great for me, because:
- I don't have to get up super early to make it.
- It comes together fast, and I can hang out while it bakes.
- It all comes out at once, so I can sit at the table before everyone else is on their last bites.
Don't get me wrong, I LOVE cooking for other people, and I don't see it as a burden. Plus we have an open kitchen, so I'm technically still in the mix even while I'm cooking. Still, it's nice sometimes to not have to spend breakfast standing at stove or the waffle maker while everyone else takes their coffee to the table.
Besides, I'm the possibly the slowest eater in history, so I'm pretty sure people get annoyed with waiting for me to finish savoring my last bites.
Dutch babies are great on their own, but I love mine filled with compote and topped with whipped cream, which is how the Brambleberry Lavender Dutch Baby was born.
Compote has been a breakfast-topping favorite of mine since college when I learned about it on Chopped started making it to put on chocolate protein pancakes—very healthful of me, considering I also added chocolate syrup and whipped cream—so it was a no-brainer .
So what exactly is compote?
Compote is a chunky, sweet sauce made of fruit, sugar and citrus simmered together. It's quick and easy to throw together, especially if you keep frozen fruit on hand—amazing for thrown-together breakfasts and last-minute desserts.
It's tangy and sweet, and as an added bonus, it's Gorgeous. Ain't no question if I want it, I need it.
So where did the lavender inspiration come from? Two things.
First was another college comfort. I used to live down the street from and volunteer at The Wild Ramp, a hyper-local farmers' market co-op in Huntington, West Virginia. They sold Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams, and I loved trying out all the unique flavors including my favorites, goat cheese and cherries and yup, lavender brambleberry.
...I also may have put this on the chocolate protein pancakes once or twice.
Second, I really love lavender and keep a lot of it on hand.
I've had a lot of people ask me:
What do you actually DO with lavender?
I think it's one of those ingredients people want to buy because they like the smell and it just sounds special, but putting it into use is more difficult. It is becoming more prevalent though, so there is inspiration around if you're reading menus (one of my favorite things to do, as a food-obsessed person).
You can simmer a little of it with equal proportions of sugar and water to make lavender syrup for coffee or lemonade, sprinkle a pinch into whipped cream (which you should put on top of this recipe), or add it to your tea for a floral touch. My favorite thing to do with it, though, is sprinkle it into batter. Waffles, pancakes, cakes—you name it!
Which is why it was a natural fit for a Dutch baby.
If you saw my recent Instagram post with the recipe for Brambleberry Lavender Compote, you may have seen that a lot of the comments were people asking where to get dried lavender. I've seen it at some specialty stores like Whole Foods, but my personal favorite place to get it is on Amazon, where you can buy it in bulk for much less than the smaller portions you might find at the store.
Above is the specific kind I like to buy, but it comes with a lot. I keep it in a mason jar and use it to double as a decoration on my bookshelf. You can shop around and see what works for you, but wherever you get it make sure it's culinary grade! Other types might be contaminated as they're not processed with food safety in mind.
Don't forget the lavender whipped cream. It's so easy to make, and it's so worth it.
I mean look at this. Look at these. Keep the daisy home for the day, because you brought dollops of LAVENDER WHIPPED CREAM to the party.
If you make the Brambleberry Lavender Dutch Baby, let me know by sharing a photo with the hashtag #whipsmartkitchen and tagging me on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.You can also upload them using the "tried it" feature on Pinterest to help out others looking for brunch recipes. I LOVE to see your photos, really. It makes my day.
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Let's get mixing!