We’re one of those sweet-and-savory breakfast families. You know the type; your family might be the same. One of us (Matt) has a bit of a sweet-tooth at breakfast, craving bran muffins, granola waffles, anything that might go nicely with a cup of coffee. Emily, on the other hand, usually goes for the savory option. Something with a little salty cheese component; perhaps something eggy; not too filling but just substantial enough to tide you over for the morning.
Dutch Babies to the Rescue!
The Dutch baby — made in either a sweet or savory version — gives you the best of both worlds. If you’re not familiar with it, Dutch babies are made with an eggy batter that puffs up in a hot oven. They’re a little like a pancake, a little like a popover, and a little like a Yorkshire pudding. We’ve previously written about Dutch Babies with Lemon Curd and Blueberries, one of the perennial favorite recipes on the blog. They’re really versatile, and like their other batter-based cousins, lend themselves well to an endless variety of flavorings and toppings.
This time around, we wanted to take them in a savory, cheesy direction. Luckily, our friends at Cabot Creamery sent us some of our all-time favorite cheddars to cook up something delicious with, and we knew this was the perfect recipe. We were loosely inspired by the flavors of a croque monsieur (French grilled ham and cheese to you), and by the abundance of flowering chives outside our kitchen window! So we present to you, Cheddar and Chive Savory Dutch Babies.
Cabot Creamery — the dairy farm co-operative here in the Northeast — is particularly well-known for their range of farm cheddars. We decided to use one of our stalwart favorites — Cabot Seriously Sharp Cheddar — which gives the recipe its creamy, tangy cheese flavor. Seriously Sharp has great assertive, complex notes. It’s fantastic sliced for a sandwich or snack, but because it melts really well, it’s also perfect for this recipe. If you’re looking for it in the cheese section of your grocery, It’s the bar with the red and plaid label.
Making the Dutch Babies
These babies … er, savory Dutch babies … are a breeze to put together. The key is that the oven needs to pre-heat to a pretty high temperature and you’ll want to use a good, heavy oven-safe skillet. Cast iron skillets are a perfect choice, but any good skillet will do. They key to getting a really good puff is getting the pan good and hot, with a dollop of bubbling, foaming butter, when the batter is added. We like to place the skillets in the oven as it preheats, so it comes up to temperature gradually. (A good oven mitt is a non-negotiable requirement for this technique!)
Note: you can either use a deep-sided 12-inch skillet, or several smaller ones. Don’t fill the pans more than 3/4 of the way to the lip, to allow them room to puff.
Like most batter recipes, we combine the dry ingredients — flour, seasoning, and a third of the grated cheddar cheese — in one bowl, and the wet ingredients — beaten eggs, milk and chives — in the other. We combine the two mixtures immediately before baking, taking care not to over-work them.
We add the cheddar at two different times, and they function in different ways. First, we add some cheese to the batter to flavor it, and to also help crisp the edges, so they resemble a thin frico (that rich, salty golden-scorched cheese layer on the very edge of a pizza or a really good grilled cheese sandwich).
The rest of the cheese is added once the Dutch babies have partly risen. About halfway through cooking time, we sprinkle the rest of the cheese over the pan (or pans). This method gives the Dutch baby a beautiful, gooey, “grilled cheese” center.
To serve, we gently spatula the Dutch baby out of the pan and slice it onto serving plates. We fold a little prosciutto (though you can use any ham) onto the crispy top and sprinkle over any additional toppings. We like a little extra handful of chives, some thin-sliced radishes and a few pre micro-greens.
These savory Dutch babies should feed about 4 to 6 people for a breakfast, brunch or light lunch.
Cheddar and Chive Savory Dutch Babies
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 1/4 cups grated Cabot Seriously Sharp Cheddar cheese, divided (5 oz)
- 8 large eggs
- 3/4 cup whole milk
- 1/4 cup minced fresh chives plus more for garnish
- 1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- French ham or prosciutto thinly sliced
- Thinly sliced radishes
- Lightly dressed greens
- Set oven to 425ºF and set a rack in the middle. Set a 12" cast iron skillet (or several smaller ones) in the oven to preheat at the same time.
- Add the flour, salt, pepper and a 1/2 cup shredded cheddar to a large bowl and whisk to combine.
- In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, chives and mustard powder together until no streaks of egg white remain.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir until just combined. A few lumps are fine.
- Add butter to the hot skillet in the oven. Allow it to melt and foam until just begins to smell nutty, about 3 to 5 minutes.
- Pour the batter into the pan(s). The batter should come up no higher than 3/4 of the way up the side. Bake for 15 minutes, then sprinkle remaining cheese evenly over the top.
- Continue to bake until puffed and golden, about 10 minutes more.
- To serve, top with a few slices of prosciutto or ham, some thinly sliced radishes and lightly dressed greens.