Last year, I hosted a Zoom cook-a-long for my mother's first-annual pandemic birthday. We played games, we talked about how weird Christmas was going to be (her birthday is in early December), and we all-my siblings and their spouses, my partner and I, and my parents, each couple trapped in our own respective digitized box-made an identical brunch.
On the menu that day was my Epi teammate Kendra Vaculin's Pumpkin Dutch Baby. I'll pause here to say that my mother did not make a pumpkin Dutch baby; instead she made a peach one using a can of peaches, puréed, as a stand-in for the pumpkin she forgot to buy. So while the brunches weren't totally identical, the point I'm trying to make is that one big custardy pancake is a hit no matter how you slice it. And this fall, I'm slicing mine with apples (and also cheese).
The recipe comes from a new book by Real Simple food director Jenna Helwig, which has a philosophic title that really speaks to the core of my current state of being: Bare Minimum Dinners: Recipes and Strategies for Doing Less in the Kitchen. And, the Dutch baby-which epitomizes that philosophy, with its easy prep and riffable nature-is genius in more ways than one.
A typical Dutch baby will feed two people-three if you're very lucky and also not very hungry. If you are a family of four or more and don't feel like today's the day to decide whom you love most (or if you're fewer people but hoping to have leftovers) it might not be the best breakfast move.
But Helwig's Dutch baby is thicker than the ones I'm accustomed to. It has more eggs, and more batter overall. You could feed up to eight people with one batch-paired, perhaps, with a simple green salad. Her version is also studded with apples that get sautéed in the same pan you bake the Dutch baby in. Don't be afraid to get some good color on those apples-a little char brings in savory sweetness that's perfectly matched by the crown of shredded cheddar cheese that gets scattered over the top just before the pan hits the oven.
You could use aged cheddar for a salty-sweet umami vibe, but I've made the dish three times now, so I can assure you the pro move is smoked cheddar (maple-smoked, if you can find it). The smokiness really drives home the savory dinner-worthiness of it all and makes each bite taste almost like it's laced with ham (IMO a very good, very delicious thing).
I'm still only cooking for two, so I can also say that this dish stores and reheats beautifully: Just pop a slice into a toaster oven or microwave for a few minutes to warm it through. For breakfast-or at any time of day for that matter-give it a gloss of maple syrup to really amp up the big autumnal feels. And then keep it on the roster as the year wanes-you never know when you're going to need to do the very least to get a very good dinner on the table.