My dad is famous for one thing: Cooking any food that can be served with maple syrup. (Okay… he might be known for more than one thing, but that’s definitely one of the things he is most known for in our family.) Many of the breakfast recipes I make today are originally recipes I was taught by my dad, coming from the tradition of making a big syrupy family breakfast on the weekends. (If you haven’t already, you can read more about this tradition in my post about the big Waffle Debate.) These traditionally syrup -drowned foods weren’t designated just to the breakfast hours either. Anytime my dad was in charge of dinner, dinner would become “brinner,” an evening version of second breakfast. My mother claims my dad knew how to cook non-breakfast foods when she met him, but we have no actual proof of such claims.
As far as I know, my dad’s pension for syrupy breakfast dates back to before my parents met. (They met during a study abroad program in Germany. It sounds romantic but they actually hated each other at the time. The whole story seems highly suspect if you ask me, but I’ll circle back to that another day.) For all intensive purposes, though, we’ll say the whole tradition started when my dad was in college and he “made maple syrup” for the first time. The now “famous” Holzgang Family Maple Syrup recipe came from humble beginnings—My dad didn’t want to pay for the price of real maple syrup and figured out it was less expensive to buy the ingredients and make it from scratch, in accordance to a recipe posted on the back of a mapleine box in the 70s. Grocery shopping the 70s must have been a wild time (winking emoji). The recipe is like a slightly nicer version of the “old fashion” style of maple syrup that Safeway sells for a couple bucks. Not real maple syrup from a maple tree but still tasty.
A tradition was born. My mom, for the record, is not a huge lover of the sweet breakfast foods. I imagine that my dad would have found this disappointing, as it’s the only thing he cooks. They managed to make it work anyway. A big weekend breakfast was about as much of a staple of my childhood as being dragged out of bed early Saturday morning for soccer games and then again at 7 am on a Sunday for mass (my dad was very Catholic… he’s bit more lapsed now). Today they are still a tradition—both the breakfasts and waking up early Saturday for soccer games, only now days I’m watching the match not playing in it.
One of my favorites of these breakfast meals when I was a kid was Dutch Babies (French Toast was right up there on the top of my list as well and someday soon I’ll share my Rum French Toast recipe). As I’ve gotten older I’ve done a lot more playing around with some of the recipes from my childhood. Adding in a few new flavors. Trying out new topping. Figuring out ways to included ingredients I have on stock that need using. That’s how I ended up with my seasonal versions of the dutch baby. This particular autumn-inspired take on the meal was born out of the necessity to find ways to use all 90 lbs of apples I got from a farm in Hood River, Ore. I love the combination of spices in this recipe and the texture of the cooked apples are a nice addition. The combo feels both festive and cozy on a rainy Portland fall day (not to mention the kitchen smells amazing as it bakes).
For the spiced apples:
1 apple, preferably tarter
1 teaspoon All Spice
1 teaspoon Cardamon
dash of Nutmeg
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1 tablespoon sugar
For the batter:
1 cup milk (dairy or almond works best)
1 cup flour
4 tablespoons cold butter
Preheat oven to 425°
Peal, core, and thinly slice apples. Set aside. Mix all of the spices and sugar in a small mixing bowl. Add apples and toss until completely coated. Set aside.
Slice up cold butter into small chucks and place throughout a glass or ceramic baking dish (I use an 8 or 9 inch rectangle dish). Place dish in oven until butter is melted and starting to bubble. Don’t forget it or let the butter burn!
In a blender, mix milk, flour, and eggs. Pour batter into dish after butter is nice and melty. ( I sprinkle the batter with a dash of each spice. It’s a nice touch). Place apple slices evenly throughout the batter-filled baking dish. You probably won’t use all the apples, but the left-over slices make a tasty snack.
Cook in oven for 20 minutes. Cut and serve while still hot. You can eat it as is, top with maple syrup, or just sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar.
GRETCHEN IS A WRITER-BASED IN PORTLAND, ORE. SHE GOT HER START AS A JOURNALIST WORKING ON THE SUSTAINABLE FASHION AND RESTAURANT BEAT BEFORE MOVING INTO COPYWRITING AND ADVERTISING WORK. SHE CURRENTLY BLOGS AND WORKS AS A FREELANCE WRITER.