I am not like a Dutch baby devotee from back in the day. Far from it. I am totally new to the world of the puffy skillet pancake. Like we’re talking last year. Essentially things went something like this: A friend lent me a copy of Marion Cunningham’s The Breakfast Book, and suggested I try making the Dutch baby. I did so, fell madly in love (with the book and the baby), purchased my own copy, and my kids’ weekend breakfasts have never been the same.
Now at the risk of repeating myself, the fact that I’d had no relationship with Dutch babies prior to quite recently should come as no surprise. In my childhood home, not only was there not a lot of baking from scratch going on, but breakfast was not a meal anyone gave much thought to. My brother and I ate cold cereal (and to our great disappointment, sugar cereals were not an option) during the week and maybe someone made us french toast with Pepperidge Farm White bread and Aunt Jemima syrup on the occasional weekend. In short, I did not grow up eating homemade pancakes and am not even certain pancakes have ever been made in my parents’ kitchen. My kids have fared better, as they consume a plethora of baked goods on practically a daily basis, and my husband is an excellent weekend pancake-maker. But I, interestingly enough, have never jumped on the pancake-making wagon, until now. The Dutch baby has converted me.
It’s not a surprise really, as it is spectacularly easy and fast to make and requires only 4 ingredients, give or take (milk, flour, eggs, and butter). It looks amazing when it emerges from the oven, and tastes divine. So when I began researching Dutch babies in anticipation of developing my own recipe (for my boys’ most coveted weekend breakfast) I imagined I’d find hundreds of very similar ones in my books and on the internet. And I was right. There is David Eyre’s pancake from a 1966 edition of the New York Times (Amanda Hesser included it in The Essential New York Times Cookbook and may have singlehandedly revived the recipe in the process) that people swear by (i.e., you’re either in the Marion camp or the David camp when it comes to Dutch babies). And David’s is very similar to Marion’s save for this: Marion includes melted butter in the batter, whereas David swirls it in the pan prior to pouring his butter-less batter into said pan. My recipe follows Marion’s (i.e., butter in the batter) but many of the recipes from my books follow David’s lead.
In addition to the butter, Dutch baby recipes differ on the consistency of the batter (the majority recommend a smooth batter, David’s recommends lumpy) and whether to include a bit of sugar (I do, many do not). But save for how to incorporate the butter, how much to whisk your batter, and whether to sweeten it, there is not a lot of wiggle room in the Dutch baby’s recipe-development process. I removed a bit of my flour and substituted a bit of corn starch, as I didn’t want to increase the cakey-ness of my baby, and it worked like a charm. And just to shake things up a bit, I used heavy cream rather than milk (cause, and I know this is controversial, I really just love fat). And with those adjustments, my baby was born: the easiest and most delicious, and definitely most impressive, breakfast pancake in the house (at least in my house).
- 1/2 cup minus 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 2 tbsp corn starch sifted if lumpy
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs room temperature
- 1/2 cup heavy cream room temperature
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 3 tbsp melted butter warm
For sprinkling on top
- 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips optional
- Confectioners' sugar for dusting optional
- Lemon juice optional
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. generously spray a 12" cast-iron skillet (or other oven-proof frying pan) with cooking spray and place in the oven to heat up.
- In a blender, combine all of the ingredients, and blend on high until smooth. (Re-blend briefly before pouring the batter into the pan if there is some lag time between the first blending and the oven coming to proper temp).
- Carefully pour the batter into the hot pan in the oven. If using chocolate chips, scatter them over the batter and bake for for 10 - 15 minutes, checking on it after 10. The pancake should be nicely browned and dramatically climbing up the sides of the pan when it is ready.
- Remove the pan from the oven and immediately dust with confectioners' sugar, if using, and sprinkle with lemon juice, if using, and serve immediately while your pancake is still a spectacle.