When I was a kid my mom would sometimes make a “baked pancake” for breakfast on the weekends. The recipe was simple enough that by the time I was 10 or so, I’d make it myself. Basically you melted some butter in a baking dish in the oven while mixing up a simple batter of eggs, milk, and flour. The batter went in the baking dish and cooked for 20 minutes or so. As the pancake baked the sides became puffed and golden (they fell when the pancake was removed from the oven). We served the pancake with powdered sugar and maple syrup. Looking back on it, I remember the pancake’s buttery, golden sides and the thin, almost crisp base.
I made the pancake again about a year ago and was astounded. That thing is swimming in butter! A third of a cup (six tablespoons!). It was so buttery that I could hardly eat it. Needless to say, I haven’t made the baked pancake since, and talking with my mother today, I learned that she hasn’t either.
When I first saw the recipe for the dessert Oven Crespella with Nutella Sauce in the April issue of Gourmet magazine I marked it because of the nutella. Dave loves the stuff, and I thought a nutella sauce recipe would be a handy thing to have. I realized yesterday, though, that the crespella seemed awfully similar to a baked pancake and could make a tasty breakfast treat, sans the nutella sauce of course (at least yesterday…).
Compared to the baked pancake, the crespella recipe upped the amount of flour a little, milk a lot, and added some sugar, vanilla extract, and a little salt to the batter. Most crucially, the amount of butter melted in the baking dish is only two tablespoons.
The result was completely delectable. Like the baked pancake the sides rose (and then fell) and turned golden. But the base of the pancake was also thicker and the teaspoon of vanilla extract was a heady revelation. I served the crespella with maple syrup and berries, and Rosa and I devoured it. In a few years, when she’s ready, I’ll bring out this recipe – not much more complex than the baked pancake – and she can make breakfast for us.