Book Tour Fever and a Giant Pancake

Dutch baby with spelt

I don’t like packing. I don’t like packing. I don’t like packing—even for my dream vacation. Nor for my book tour—which is a dream come true. I simply don’t like the departure part of travel. Once I’m on the road, all is fine.

Thus, yesterday, instead of tossing ancient grains and practical clothes into my roller, I spent a lot of time in my kitchen. And I wanted it never to end. I watched the tulips on this picture perfect spring day which had popped open along the borders of the yard. And I made: first lemon jam, then a large pot of chickpeas, then hummus, later tomatillo salsa, I roasted asparagus, and broiled salmon. And I stirred together a large jar of breakfast muesli for my husband who is left behind. I didn’t get to the scones. Nor to refreshing my sourdough and to baking bread because eventually my husband sent me packing. Literally. So I got the roller, and zipped it open.

Today is not much better. Writing a blog post is more fun than packing. And these Dutch babies below are beyond amazing. You might have seen them during recipe testing on my Instagram feed. Of course, I have to share them before I go!

So before I finally get real about packing, a few facts for you about the book tour:

Seattle and Portland this week—Hooray! San Francisco and Chicago next. Still working on Atlanta and Washington, DC. Here is a list of events which I am constantly updating.

Please say hello as I introduce my new Simply Ancient Grains, wherever you are — it means the world.

Spelt Dutch Baby with Blackberries

I grew up eating my German dad’s huge pancakes, Pfannekuchen, which he prepared often and with single-minded dedication. This was his favorite breakfast so he made sure to teach us kids all the tricks to perfection early on. No wonder I fell for Dutch babies in this country. They are similar to German Pfannekuchen but they puff up much more, resembling a giant popover.

Dutch babies make great brunch fare. They are super-easy and you can prepare them ahead. My favorite part is watching them balloon inside the oven: after about 5 minutes, the batter starts to crawl up slowly but steadily along the sides of the pan, puffing up impressively, even above the rim. Once they are done, you have to be ready to eat—as they also deflate as fast as a popped balloon.

Serves 2 to 4

50 g (about 1/2 cup) whole grain spelt flour, preferably stone-ground
20 g (1 1/2 tablespoons) turbinado sugar, plus a bit for sprinkling
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

3 large eggs, at room temperature
180 g (3/4 cup) whole or low-fat milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

20 g (1 1/2 tablespoons) unsalted butter


1 cup fresh blackberries, or other fresh berries
1/2 lemon, for garnish
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

1 Thoroughly whisk together the flour, turbinado sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. In a large bowl, lightly whisk the eggs to blend. Add the milk and the vanilla and whisk vigorously for about 1 minute until the mixture is frothy and drizzles from the whisk in a thin stream. Gradually and gently whisk the flour mixture into the egg mixture—it’s OK if it is a little lumpy.

Set aside for 1 hour before you start preheating the oven (or make the night before and remove from the fridge when you preheat the skillet in the oven; batter will darken).

2 Position a rack in center of oven and place a 10-inch cast-iron skillet on it. Preheat oven to 425°F for 20 to 25 minutes.

3 Using a thick oven mitt, carefully remove the hot skillet from the oven. Add the butter (it will sizzle! and brown for great flavor) and tilt it carefully to coat the bottom and the sides of the pan. Briefly but thoroughly re-combine the batter with a vigorous whisking for about 15 seconds before adding it to the hot skillet.

4 Bake until the Dutch baby puffs up impressively, turns light golden brown, and its surface is just firming up, 12 to 15 minutes.

5 Remove and immediately add the fresh berries to the center and sprinkle with a bit more turbinado sugar. Squeeze some lemon juice on top and dust with confectioners’ sugar. Serve at once.

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Spelt, widely used in German-speaking countries until the early 1900s, is a natural choice here. It contributes a mild sweetness with none of the bitter tannins some find objectionable in regular whole wheat.
A bit of turbinado sugar, sprinkled on top, in the end adds an appealing crunchiness.
For the best rise and most appealing texture, allow ingredients to come to room temperature, and for the batter to rest for 1 hour or chill overnight.

6 Responses to Book Tour Fever and a Giant Pancake

  1. Cynthia says:

    Can’t wait to see you in Oakland, CA on May 30th at Oliveto.

  2. Diana says:

    Wishes for a successful book tour, although I can’t imagine it would be anything but! My heart will be with you in the Portland area. I can’t make it over the mountains (I live on the east side of the Cascades) but sure wish I could. Can’t wait to try the dutch baby 🙂

    • Maria says:

      Thank you so much for your good wishes,Diana. And for all your passion for grains. So sorry you won’t be able to make it. I totally understand. Enjoy the Dutch baby and do keep me posted.

  3. minervasowl says:

    Have a safe and wonderful trip. I hope that you can make it out to the Boston area.

    • Maria says:

      Thank you so much! I actually live in the Boston area, and we have great events coming up. Please look at on my site: I’m sure you will love the one at Sofra bakery. But also a Slow Food event is being prepared and two great book stores. Feel free to share with friends. Happy spring!

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