When I was seven years old, my grandmother gave me a cookbook written for kids. It was something she’d picked up at a museum gift shop and knew I’d love. My mom was not so pleased when it arrived, as she was never a huge fan of cooking with kids. In her mind, meal prep was strictly about efficiency. Adding my sister or me to the mix instantly made things drastically less efficient. Still, once in a while, she’d give in to my pleas and help me make something from the book.
When I turned eight, something happened that opened up my ability to bond with this cookbook of mine. Both my parents started working on Saturday mornings and we had a babysitter watch us until they came home. This babysitter was the teen-age daughter of friends and she was all of 13 (it was the mid-’80s, that’s how it worked back then). She was happy to let me cook, as it kept me busy and she got to help eat whatever I made.
One of the first recipes I tried was popovers. I picked the recipe because it only had a few ingredients and we had all of them in the house. The first time I made the popovers, I forgot to butter the muffin tin and so they stuck horribly. Still, we scraped them out of the pan and ate the torn pieces with jam. Soon after, I had the kinks worked out and they became a regular thing.
Like all good things, eventually this Saturday morning routine came to an end. Jobs changed, we moved to a different state and I fell out of the popover habit.
Recently though, I was planning a brunch for friends and wanted to make something beyond my regular waffles and egg bakes. Looking around, I found Ina Garten’s recipe for Tri-Berry Oven Pancakes. As I read the recipe, it felt very familiar. I couldn’t figure out why until I remembered my popover days. These pancakes are wonderfully similar to the recipe from my childhood cookbook, just baked differently so that they develop a different final shape. They were a hit at the brunch and just perfect for The Weekender.
Before you preheat your oven, here are a few things you should know:
– If you’ve ever made a Dutch baby, you will recognize these pancakes. The technique and result are essentially the same, save that you’re making individual portions.
– Ina suggests using an electric mixer to combine your ingredients, but I found that a blender does the job better and makes it incredibly simple to pour your batter into the prepared dishes.
– Make sure you don’t skimp on the butter that goes into the baking dishes. It ensures that the pancakes will slide out easily.
– Don’t limit yourself to serving these with berries. As we ate them, one friend suggested filling them with Nutella or even ice cream.
Marisa McClellan is a food writer and canning teacher who lives in Center City Philadelphia. Find more of her food (all cooked up in her 80-square-foot kitchen) at her blog, Food in Jars. Her first cookbook, also called Food in Jars, will be published by Running Press in May 2012.