19 May Pear & Smoked Gouda Dutch Baby
No matter how often you make a recipe, it can trip you up. I created this Pear & Smoked Gouda Dutch Baby years ago for my book. I know it well. I know it likes a hot, hot pan. I know the buttery pears will sizzle and splutter when I slide them into the piping hot cast iron skillet. I know the Dutch Baby will emerge from the oven modestly puffed (unlike its showy Caramelized Apple cousin), and then deflate like a punctured beach ball. I know it’s best eaten right then and there, and that no amount of reheating will resuscitate the rubbery slice you pull from your refrigerator the next morning.
But I forgot one detail. Pears aren’t in season here in May.
When my mom asked for my Pear & Smoked Gouda Dutch Baby for Mother’s Day brunch, I thought my biggest challenge would be tracking down smoked Gouda. I was wrong. I poked about the produce section of several stores, but Nature can’t be rushed. The imported pears looked pretty, but were so hard they might as well have been made out of concrete.
For all the times I’ve made this recipe, I have never made it in the spring. It’s always been a late-summer, early-fall dish designed to use up the last couple of pears threatening to die on my counter. So, with Mother’s Day looming, I steered my cart down the tinned fruit aisle and searched for canned pears.
On Mother’s Day morning, I drained the pears well before slicing them and tossing them into the hot butter along with a prayer. To my relief, they didn’t fall apart. They even browned fairly well. Once covered in batter and baked, the tinned pears were almost indistinguishable from fresh. I wasn’t going to say anything, and just let my mother think I had worked a miracle and sourced good pears in spring.
Mom figured it out anyway. But not from their taste or texture.
I’d left the empty tin on the counter.
So, here’s the recipe, amended to include out-of-season options. If you’re new to Dutch Babies, I posted a Q&A with the Caramelized Apple Dutch Baby. If you’re hungry, read on.
- 1 cup milk
- 3 eggs, room temperature
- 2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup corn starch
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 4 ounces smoked Gouda
- 2 medium pears, Bosc is good (canned are okay too)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
- Fresh cracked black pepper
- Honey for drizzling
- Sour cream or crème fraîche
- Place a rack in the centre of the oven and a heavy, 10-inch ovenproof skillet in to heat. Cast iron is ideal but any ovenproof skillet will do. Preheat oven to 425°F.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, and melted butter until smooth. Add the flour, cornstarch and salt. Whisk until smooth. Grate the Gouda using the large holes of a box grater. Add it to the batter and stir gently to combine. Set aside while you cook the pears.
- Peel, core, and cut pears into ¼-inch thick slices. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the room temperature butter. When the butter bubbles, place the pear slices in the butter, add a light grinding of pepper, and cook, stirring often, until the pears are lightly golden and beginning to get tender, about 4 to 5 minutes.
- When the pears are done, remove the heated skillet from the oven. Slide the pears into the hot skillet and arrange in a single layer. Be sure to scrape out all the butter. Give the reserved batter a quick stir, pour it over the pears, and pop the skillet back into the oven. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the pancake is puffed and golden. The Dutch Baby will not rise as high as a plain version because of the cheese. This is normal. You didn’t do anything wrong.
- Slice and serve with a dollop of crème fraîche (page TK) or sour cream, a grinding of fresh black pepper, and a drizzle of honey.
- Note: Dutch Babies don’t sleep well. Eat this dish hot from the oven. Technically, leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container and reheated in a frying pan, but they might disappoint.
- Tip: If you don’t have smoked Gouda, this recipe works with aged Gouda. Don’t like Gouda? Substitute Edam or smoked cheddar.