Monday, June 16, 2014

Dutch Baby with Chai Poached Pears and Caramel

dutch baby with chai pears

Tomorrow is my birthday, and I'm going to be 26. Around this time last year, my best friend and I were drinking copious amounts of red wine in the kitchen and booking flights to New York. My motto for 25 was 'Do Fun Shit' and I definitely did a lot of fun shit in the last year. This year I am proposing 'Take Adventures'.

Life looks quite different now, and I've learned a lot in the last year, but one of the most important things is to satisfy my need for adventures, and not ignore it. 'Adventures' is quite a grand term, and while overseas trips are wonderful of course, it is not necessarily what I mean. I am never as inspired and energised as when I'm doing something new to me. I don't know how to take relaxing holidays, because in a new place I just want to see and do (and eat) as much as possible!

But I can feel the same sense of joy and wonder from exploring somewhere in Sydney than I did when I walked across the Brooklyn Bridge at sunset. Just a simple break from routine in some way, shape or form can be enough. But the trick is to be present in the moment, keep the smart phone in your pocket and appreciate all of the things happening around you. And of course, even though it's sometimes hard to justify taking a few hours off in the afternoon when I'm really really busy, when I come back to my desk I am inspired in a great way.

dutch baby with chai pears

Since the weather has taken a turn for cooler temperatures, I can't get enough chai. I just love the combination of warming, comforting spices and steaming soy. The next thing to try is my own chai blend! But until then, I have a beautiful recipe for a decadent breakfast using in-season pears - perfect for a birthday. The special part is the chai salted caramel, which uses some of the spiced poaching liquid from the pears, and is incredibly delicious.

I've been wanting to make a Dutch Baby for quite a while - a thin pancake mixture is then baked in a skillet or ovenproof dish until the sides puff up beautifully and it's golden brown. The oven does all the work - these are pancakes minus the effort of flipping. Use that baking time to make a pot of coffee or chai - it's win win!

I also like that you can use any kind of seasonal fruit (berries or peaches are always a good bet) or keep it simple with just a little lemon and sugar. I made mine in 2 small skillets, but you could definitely also use one large one. Just increase the baking time a little and check every few minutes for those tell-tale puffed sides.

dutch baby with chai pears

Dutch Baby with Chai Poached Pears and Caramel
Serves 4-6


Chai Poached Pears
  • 1 litre water, boiled
  • 3 tablespoons loose leaf chai tea (I used T2)
  • 2 pears, peeled, cored and cut into quarters
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick

Chai Salted Caramel
  • 1 1/2 cups caster sugar
  • 1/2 cup chai poaching liquid
  • 300ml thickened/heavy cream
  • 1/2 - 1 teaspoon sea salt (to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon spiced rum (optional)

Dutch Baby (makes 2 small skillets - adapted from A Beautiful Mess)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup plain flour
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Chopped pistachios and icing sugar, to serve

To make the poached pears, brew the chai in the boiling water for 5-10 minutes to infuse. This can be done in a teapot or saucepan. Strain out the tea leaves and return tea to the saucepan. Add pears, sugar and cinnamon stick and simmer on a low heat for 20 minutes or until the pears are tender. Allow to cool.

To make the chai salted caramel, place the caster sugar and poaching liquid together in another saucepan and heat until boiling. It is a little hard to know when the caramel is ready as the poaching liquid is already dark brown, but should look just slightly darker 8-10 minutes. Carefully add the cream, whisking to combine and being careful because the mixture may spit. Stir in sea salt and rum if using. Allow to cool.

To make the dutch babies, preheat your oven to 180°C (350°F). Place a tablespoon of butter into two small cast iron skillets (or other oven safe pans) and place them in the oven while it heats up, melting the butter.

In a bowl, combine the eggs and milk, whisk to combine. Add in the other ingredients and stir until no lumps remain in the batter. Once your oven is preheated remove the hot pans and give them a shake to evenly distribute the butter (if needed). Divide the batter in half and pour into each pan. Bake for 12-15 minutes. Serve with poached pears, caramel, and a scattering of chopped pistachios and icing sugar.

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