My dad used to say that my mom had two speeds: slow and stop.
When it comes to velocity, I seem to take after my mother. Sometimes I think I’d be better off in a buddhist monastery, far away from things like freeways, busy people, and food industry jobs; someplace where mindful attention to detail is rewarded rather than vibed.
In pastry school, when all my fellow students had gathered around the table with their daily baked goods on display, I would often still be hovering around the oven, waiting for my pie or cake to finish baking. One evening, my teacher Claire accused me of doing this on purpose, to milk the drama of pulling my creation from the oven while the rest of the class watched.
I wish that had been the case.
In reality, I’m just very slow.
And yet I do appreciate the drama of pulling certain things from the oven, whether or not it happens in a timely manner (and preferably not while 14 pairs of impatient eyes watch). This baked pancake, for instance, rises particularly high from the heat of the oven, turning a burnished golden all over, puffing dramatically, oozing with a patchwork of color from summer fruit: indigo, raspberry, and peach.
And it’s so tasty, too. The vanilla and lemon-laced batter makes a pleasing foil for the jammy fruit. Wedges of the pancake need nothing more than a drizzle of maple syrup, and a scattering of more fresh berries.
As Deborah Madison demonstrates in her books Local Flavors and Seasonal Fruit Desserts, this batter is infinitely versatile. She includes recipes for three versions of the same baked pancake: savory, with chanterelles and cheese, sweet with pears and cardamom, and somewhere in between, with apples, cinnamon, whiskey and cheddar.
My cousin makes the Pear Cardamom version of this pancake regularly, varying the spice and fruit, sometimes folding in cooked quinoa to make it more substantial. One night after she gave me a soap-making demonstration – did I mention she is insanely crafty? – we made one with apples, cinnamon, and sage-infused cheddar which she had brought back from a trip to Vermont. We topped the whole thing with Vermont maple syrup.
[Here is where the appropriate photo of the berry-peach pancake in full puff would be, had I not received an important phone call the minute I pulled the pancake from the oven, and returned minutes later to find it already fallen.]
For a similar photo, check out the original recipe.
Or, better yet, make this pancake yourself. It takes about 10 minutes to get it in the pan, and 25 to bake, and in no time you have yourself a fabulous breakfast.
Of course, if you’re slow like me, it may take a bit longer.
Berry-Peach Oven Pancake
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup whole spelt (or wheat) flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup whole milk
1 large peach, in 1/4″ slices
1/2 cup raspberries
1/2 cup blueberries
maple syrup and additional fresh berries, for serving
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400º. Place the butter in a 10″ oven proof skillet, and set in the oven to melt while you prepare the batter.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar and salt. Whisk the eggs into the flour mixture until smooth, then the lemon zest and vanilla. Add the milk a little at a time, whisking as you go, until you have a smooth, crepe-like batter.
Remove the skillet from the oven, brush the melted butter up the sides of the pan, then pour the excess butter into the batter and whisk to combine.
Quickly scatter the peach slices and berries in the bottom of the skillet, then pour the batter over the fruit, and place the skillet in the oven. Bake the pancake until dramatically puffed and golden, about 25 minutes. Let settle for a few minutes, then slice into wedges. Serve with maple syrup and some extra berries.
Leftovers reheat beautifully in a 350º oven or toaster oven for 5 or 10 minutes.