Here are creative ways to experience Dutch babies-German pancakes-as well as information concerning their background. (For more on the history of pancakes, see Norwegian Pancakes.) Indeed, this Dutch baby will tantalize your tongue!
The Famous Original Pancake House in Portland, OR
My first experience with this treat was at The Original Pancake House here in Portland, OR, which James Beard recognized, as number ten in his 1970’s list, of America’s top ten restaurants. (For more on this eatery, see Tabbouleh.) In the 1990’s, I attended The Original Pancake House several times a week, sitting at the community table with my friends-the regulars-I’d met there. Here, I often indulged in this lemony, puffed-up pancake, which was only slightly sweet; there were always doggie bags of leftovers to take home.
My Family History with Dutch Babies
Unbeknown to me at the time, this creation played an important part in my family in the latter part of 1981: My aunt Sheila was caring for my bedridden sister Maureen-pregnant with her sixth child-by cooking for her family several times a week, as my brother-in-law was in Wyoming, with his work.
To the delight of all these children, Sheila most often made multiple Dutch babies in pie plates, cutting them in sixths, and serving them with four or more toppings. The kids would take several pieces at a time, choosing from these various toppings, among which were numerous berries, home-canned apple sauce, and a creamed chipped beef (jars of thinly sliced dried beef in a homemade cream sauce).
The memory of Aunt Sheila’s making Dutch babies is indelibly set in my nieces’ and nephews’ hearts; when either the person or the food is mentioned, the above story spills forth.
Recipes for Both Small and Large Dutch Babies
I wasn’t aware of this ministry at the time, and I knew nothing about Dutch babies, until I moved to Portland in 1986; here I discovered them as huge, massive pancakes made in a cast iron skillet (served with fresh lemon, butter, and powdered sugar). Thus, I have always made them in this same manner; though now I prefer to use Swerve Confectioners Sugar Replacement. Below you will find this large pancake receipt, as well as directions for making Aunt Sheila’s smaller pie-pan version, in case you are baking numerous pancakes for a crowd.
Savory and Apple Dutch Babies
There are multiple variations of Dutch babies online; some of the best savory options can be found at https://www.allrecipes.com/article/savory-dutch-baby/ There are many recipes for a German apple pancake on internet as well. I, however, feel my Apple Pancake is by far the best. Unlike all these other receipts, mine has the fresh apples-mixed in cinnamon sugar-baked on top of the puffed-up Dutch Baby. This provides perfect, moist caramelized apples, as opposed to the other versions’ drier, smothered apples, which are baked underneath the batter. Note: as with the Dutch baby, I first experienced this German apple pancake at The Original Pancake House, beginning in the 1980’s.
German Pancake’s Past in American Cook Books
In my rather extensive cook book collection, there were no recipes for Dutch babies-German pancakes-present in cook books published in the early days of our nation. In fact, I didn’t find any receipts for this German pancake until 1930, with The Settlement Cook Book, by Mrs. Simon Kander. The Joy of Cooking, by Irma S. Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker, also boasts of directions for a German pancake, or pfannkuchen; this cook book was first published in 1931, with multiple printings following-my edition is copyrighted 1964. A healthy version of a German pancake is present in Jean Hewitt’s The New York Times Natural Foods Cookbook, published in 1971. 1
I found a Dutch apple cake in two of my mid-twentieth-century cook books: Fannie Engle’s Cook Book, 1946, and The New Century Cook Book, 1949, by Demetria Taylor. This cake is quite similar to the apple pancake, with sliced fresh apples arranged over the top of a pan of cake batter, which is then dusted well with cinnamon sugar and baked. 2
As a side note, Margret Visser points out in The Rituals of Dinner, 1991, that it is considered impolite to cut pancakes with a knife in Germany, as it could appear that one thinks they might be tough. 3
We should be aware how our acts of kindness may leave lifelong-in some cases eternal-influence on others, as seen above in my family.
Likewise, our words and deeds can also leave bad impressions on those around us; thus, we are careful to guard ourselves in both speech and actions. This, however, can only be done effectively, if we bring our thoughts captive, not letting strife or bad memories rule and reign in our hearts. (We cry out for help in doing this!)
In this way, we are set free from captivity and bondage, and we can be used subsequently, to help bring our loved ones and others into freedom.
- Simon Kander, The Settlement Cook Book (Milwaukee, Wisconsin: The Settlement Cook Book Co., 1930), p. 83.; Irma S. Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker, The Joy of Cooking (Indianapolis, Indiana: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc., 1931, 1936, 1941, 1942, 1946, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1962, 1963, 1964), p. 214; Jean Hewitt, The New York Times Natural Foods Cookbook (New York: Avon Books, 1971), p. 304.
- Fannie Engles, Fannie Engles’ Cook Book (New York: Duell, Sloan and Pearce, 1946), pp. 126, 127; Demetria Taylor, The New Century Cook Book (New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, Inc., 1949), p. 727. A revised and enlarged edition of Phyllis Krafft Newill, Good Food and How to Cook It (New York; D. Appleton-Century Company, 1939).
- Margaret Visser, The Rituals of Dinner (New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991), p. 186.
- https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/german-apple-pancake/ and https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/23900/german-apple-pancake/
Dutch Baby (German Pancake) Yields: 2-3 servings, when made in a cast iron skillet. For larger crowds, may make multiple, half-recipes in 9″-pie or cake pans. Total prep time: 35 min/ active prep time: 10 min/ baking time: 25 min.
Receipt for a cast iron skillet, or half this recipe for a 9”-pie pan:
4 lg eggs
1 c unbleached white flour (Bob’s Red Mill organic is of high quality; available in bulk, or 5-lb bags, at our local New Seasons.)
1/4 tsp salt (Himalayan, pink, or Real Salt is critical for optimum health; an inexpensive fine grind Himalayan salt is available at Costco for $4.95/5 lb.)
1 c milk (May substitute alternative milks, such as almond or oat.)
6 tbsp butter, plus more for serving
2 small lemons, quartered (Inexpensive organic lemons can be purchased at Trader Joe’s for $1.69/lb, or 6 small lemons.)
Powdered sugar (May substitute Swerve confectioner’s sugar, which is sugar-free; for information on Swerve, see Great Keto Citrus Cookies).
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Beat eggs in a large bowl; stir in flour and salt. Mix in milk gently; do not over beat-batter will be somewhat lumpy. (Optional: may refrigerate batter overnight.) See photo above.
- Melt butter in a cast iron skillet over medium heat, or if using 9” pie plates, place in oven to melt butter-may cut butter in small pieces, so it melts quickly and evenly, without browning on edges.
Pour egg mixture into hot skillet, or pie pan, and place in preheated oven. Bake for 25 minutes, or until golden brown. (See photos of smaller Dutch baby here, and larger, cast-iron-skillet pancake at top of entry).
- Cut pancakes in desired number of pieces; I cut the larger pancake in halves, or thirds, and then serve it to my guests, with butter, lemon slices, and powdered sugar. (For larger crowds, the multiple, smaller pancakes can be cut into sixths, so your guests can choose from numerous toppings, such as: various berries and fruits, applesauce, and creamed chipped beef. This latter is a blend of cream sauce and dried beef. Five-ounce jars of these thin slices are available for $4.39 at our local Fred Meyer’s.)
- Serve immediately and be wowed!