Springtime Delights: A Warm, Wonderful Day in Philly with a Special Strawberry Treat

After a warm winter, we had an early glance of late spring yesterday with an incredibly beautiful day, sunny and 60s. Wanting to take full advantage of the glorious weather, and having just come off a 12.5 hour session at the house the day before (we had 2 events back to back), I worked a light shift. Dressing in my running gear, I weaved my way through West Philly and the UPenn campus, paused to admire the city skyline at the South Street bridge, and wend through the Rittenhouse neighborhood to Midtown Village. As it’s Women’s History Month, Happy International Women’s Day y’all, I spent the bulk of my morning promoting the New Century Trust on our social media as we are one of the oldest women’s non-profit organizations within the country. An early afternoon meeting with our contractor allowed me to wax poetic on masonry conservation before closing up the house for the day. Reversing my course from the morning, I ran back to West Philly, making a beeline to the Woodlands historic mansion and cemetery. For those who have not been, the Woodlands is an incredible Adams-style mansion in the middle of a Victorian cemetery. The sight was historically and continues to be an important cultural landscape. I stopped into the sun-filled oval rooms of the mansion, saying hello to my Fairmount Park Trust colleagues laboring in restoration on the large curved windows. Receiving my charge for the day, I grabbed a water before heading out to spend my late afternoon removing vegetation from mausoleum masonry. In layman’s terms, I pulled weeds. I came across a marble from lord knows when; it was ice cold having spent however many years lodged into a crack within the steps of the stone vault. I imagine it bided the time of a little boy, doomed to spend his Sunday afternoon in the cemetery, while his parent’s paid respect to generations of family entombed on the sunny hillside overlooking the sweeping Schuylkill.

The Woodlands Cemetery with the mansion contained within glimpsed beyond the ornate Victorian headstones.

At five, I retired my five-in-one and gardening gloves and cut though Clark Park on my way home. I was all set to try my hand at a spinach lasagna, but having had an already fulfilling day (read: I was near to passing out), I decided to prolong the magic by treating myself to that special of specials, breakfast for dinner. When I was growing up, a trip to my Aunt Sharon’s house in New Jersey often meant her special puffed strawberry pancakes. To this day, I can occasionally cajole my cousin Ryan into making me a fluffy flapjack. I checked my Epicurious app for a recipe and gave it a go. The great thing about the recipe, I was easily able to adapt it for a single lady. It’s a bit “eggy” and I might throw some vanilla and spices in next go round, but this makes for a light and airy, fast and easy treat.

I plugged in my internet, I haven’t successfully established wireless in the new space, put on a Patton Oswalt special on Netflix, and giggled my way through the steps. I had some strawberries in my fridge that were looking pretty desperate to be used but they perked right up in a bath of powdered sugar (1 tablespoons worth). Preheating the oven to 450 degrees and throwing a pad (about 1 tablespoon) of butter into my cast iron skillet, I swirled the pan till the bottom and sides were well coated, leaving the pan on medium heat.

I haven't quite figured out manual focus on my digital SLR yet. Here is the blended batter with the strawberries and incorporated powdered sugar. The ingredients are simple and straightforward. This recipe couldn't be easier, total cook time including prep is about 20 minutes.

I blended ¾ of a cup of whole milk with a large egg (both from the awesome farmer’s market in Clark Park on Saturday mornings and both at room temperature). I incorporated ¼ cup of flour, a pinch of salt, poured the mix into the still hot cast iron skillet and threw the whole lot into the oven, setting the timer for 12 minutes and laughed as Patton Oswalt ranted. I won’t go into details of the special as it’s never as funny when anyone quotes comedians. Well, maybe with the exception of Eddie Izzard but even then, it’s hard to mimic his bizarre nuances, as much as Megan Harwood and I try. The timer buzzed, and I pulled from the oven my puffy, bubbly golden brown dinner. I drizzled the strawberries and powdered sugar concoction over the pancake, also known as a Dutch baby which sounds more than a little like a racist slur, threw a little more powdered sugar and a slight bit of honey over for good measure, and enjoyed.

The dutch baby plated with strawberries, honey, and powdered sugar drizzled over. I don't have an actual table, nor do I have space for one in my tiny abode but that doesn't mean I can't class it up with a pitcher full of Spring flowers.

Here is the straight recipe, adapted to a single serving, without snarky comment

  • 5-6  small strawberries, hulled, sliced
  • 1 tablespoons powdered sugar plus additional for dusting
  • 1 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup whole milk, room temperature
  • 1 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 450°F. Stir strawberries and 1 tablespoons sugar in medium bowl. Let stand at room temperature while preparing pancake.

Melt butter in 10-inch ovenproof skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium-high heat, swirling to coat bottom and sides of skillet. Blend milk and eggs in blender until smooth. Add flour and salt; blend batter just until incorporated. Pour batter into hot skillet.

Transfer skillet to oven and bake pancake until puffed and golden in spots, about 11 minutes.

Spoon strawberries on top, dust with powdered sugar, and serve.

This recipe originally printed in Bon Appétit, June 2007.

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One response to “Springtime Delights: A Warm, Wonderful Day in Philly with a Special Strawberry Treat

  1. Pingback: Hey, It’s Yet Another Post… About West Philly in Spring | The Geography of a Quirk·

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