Over the past 2 years, the only kind of mail I’ve been getting is – you guessed it – college mail. “Come visit us! You’ll love it here! This is the perfect place for you!” Occassionally, I even get a letter that reads, “Thank you for requesting information, Kimberly!”
. . . I hadn’t requested information any of those times.
Lately, the amount of college mail has been dwindling – thankfully! I feel like I’ve single-handedly killed a forest by merely being on the receiving end on all of this mail. Not the best feeling.
Yesterday when I got home, I had only one piece of college mail waiting for me. When I lifted the letter, I saw something else under it . . . also addressed to me . . . and in my own hand-writing.
Weird. Weird. Weird.
After a second, I instantly remembered this letter – writing it, addressing it, sealing it. Feeling strange about the whole situation.
Eighth grade health class: One of our final assigments was to write a letter to our future selves. What we’re like, who we’re friends with, what we’re interested in, what our goals are. We’d be seeing them again 4 years later, when we’d reached our senior year.
But everyone forgot about them – until yesterday.
As I read through my letter, I had a few good laughs. At one point I call myself (or rather, my hobbies) “old-fashioned;” at another, I refer to food as “cuisines.” I suppose my eighth grade self was a bit pretentious. That aside, I’m very much the same person.
But that’s not to say that I haven’t changed at all since 2007.
I know I have.
And that’s not to say that I won’t change over the next 4 years – or thereafter.
I know I will.
Despite all the variables in my life, I can say with certainty that cooking will remain a constant. I’ll never stop wanting to try new dishes, draft new recipes – learn, improve.
(Sidenote: I’d like to take a moment to apologize if I’ve offended anyone with my above math reference. I’ve been exposed to way to much calculus lately . . . it happens.)
These individual German pancakes (or Dutch babies, as they’re sometimes called) are simple, simple, simple – but super delicious. The pancake batter is highlighted by a bit of fresh lemon zest and a splash of vanilla extract. The pancakes are faintly sweet, so a dusting of powdered sugar and some fresh berries make for the perfect finish. I went with blueberries and blackberries because I love how they are complimented by the lemon zest; you could certainly pour on a bit of real maple syrup, but I really don’t think it’s necessary. This is definitely a dish where you want the simplicity and the freshness of the ingredients to shine.
Troubleshooting: For some reason, I have not had the best of luck with popovers and other such egg-based batters baked in a hot oven. Though incredibly flavorful and satisfying, I have my suspicions that my pancakes turned out a bit more dense than they should have. Here’s a list of the potential reasons why:
- The original recipe said to heat the oven to 450 degrees F, then lower the temperature to 400 F once putting the pancakes in the oven. I forgot to turn down the oven until the pancakes were in at 450 for 10 minutes. I turned it down to 400 for the last 5 minutes of baking.
- I over-filled the muffin pans; it’s possible that once the batter started to puff, it was weighed down by the sheer amount of batter in the vessel. Just a theory.
- The pancakes are going to fall – plain and simple. It’s the nature of this kind of batter.
Lemon-Scented German Pancakes
Adapted from Martha Stewart
- 2 Tbsp. Butter, Melted
- 4 Tbsp. Granulated Sugar
- 2/3 C. All Purpose Flour
- 3 Eggs
- ¾ C. Whole Milk
- ½ tsp. Kosher Salt
- 1 tsp. Freshly Grated Lemon Zest
- ½ tsp. Vanilla Extract
- 1 C. Blackberries, for garnish
- 1 C. Blueberries, for garnish
- Confectioner’s Sugar, for dusting
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Butter inside each muffin cup of a 6-cup nonstick jumbo muffin tin.
In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, salt, granulated sugar, melted butter, eggs, and milk; process for 3 minutes. (I used an immersion blender instead; worked just as well.) Stir in lemon zest and vanilla extract.
Fill each cavity of the muffin tin with batter. Transfer tin to oven; reduce heat to 400 degrees. Bake until pancakes puff up and become golden brown, about 15 minutes.
Remove tin from oven; invert onto a flat work surface. Dust with confectioners’ sugar and top with fresh berries; serve immediately.
Yields 6 Servings