- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 21, 2004

So much of food writing skirts the edges of sentimentality. I know I often hover there. This is largely due to a genuine impulse: namely, that I love yapping about how the preparation, serving and sharing of a handcrafted meal is one of life’s great pleasures.

I love writing about cooking as a transformative experience for the food, for your home, and for you and the people you love. Whether it’s as complicated as an asparagus-gruyere souffle or as simple as microwaved popcorn, there is something fantastic about bringing a freshly cooked, still-hot, puffy splendor to the table.

I love this breakfast recipe for many reasons, the primary one being its ease of preparation. It also tastes delicious and seems a lot more complicated than it actually is, so you get extra credit and admiration, as well as appreciation.

This is a large Swedish-pancake-style dish that doesn’t require egg separation or special handling. You simply beat all the ingredients together (even a few lumps are OK), and the batter is ready.

If you’ve ever made popovers, this recipe will probably look familiar. It’s almost the same batter, only this one contains vanilla and sugar to take it in a sweet breakfast direction. Also, you don’t bake it in individual cups as you would popovers. Instead, you pour all batter into one big pan and let it make one giant, golden dome, crisp and slightly rough-hewn, as it always puffs asymmetrically.

This is also a great batter to make with children because it is thin and easily mixed. Use a large bowl so everyone can let loose with the whisk without worrying about batter flying out of the bowl.

Serve the giant baked pancake puff with your favorite toppings, which may include yogurt of any kind, maple syrup, honey, whipped cream, fresh fruit or confectioners’ sugar.

For a festive Christmas breakfast, make a fruit salad and adorn it with fresh pomegranate seeds. Be prepared to make a second round, as it and you will be very popular.

Giant baked pancake puff

1 tablespoon butter

4 large eggs

11/3 cups milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 tablespoons sugar

1½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon salt


Yogurt, any kind

Real maple syrup, warmed

Whole raspberries, blackberries or blueberries

Sliced peaches, bananas or strawberries

Confectioners’ sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. As oven preheats, place butter in a 9-by-13-inch pan and put pan in oven until butter melts. Remove pan and swirl until melted butter is distributed. Set aside.

Break eggs into large bowl. Beat with a whisk for a minute or two. Add milk and vanilla and beat for a minute longer. Sprinkle in sugar, flour and salt and whisk until flour is incorporated (a few small lumps are OK). Pour batter into prepared pan and bake in center of oven for 35 minutes, or until puffy and golden. Serve immediately cut into squares and festooned with your favorite toppings. Makes 4 servings.


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