Craig Claiborne described making the acquaintance of this oven-baked pancake recipe “in the handsome, Japanese-style home of the David Eyres in Honolulu” as if he had met Grace Kelly. “With Diamond Head in the distance, a brilliant, palm-ringed sea below, and this delicately flavored pancake before us, we seemed to have achieved paradise.”
Life was good if you were a food writer in the 1960s. Mistakes passed without a public shaming in the paper’s corrections column or the blogosphere. (Claiborne doubled the butter in his recipe. A few weeks later, he simply mentioned airily, “The food editor was in such reverie on his return from Hawaii he did not notice the gremlins in his measuring spoons.”)
Forty years later, readers are still making the baked pancake recipe with no less bliss. It appears on a dozen blogs, embellished with family stories and photos and new-and-improved versions of the recipe. (Eyre, by the way, said he got his from the St. Francis Hotel Cookbook, published in 1919, but his calls for more flour and egg. Both belong to a family of oven-baked pancakes called German pancakes or Dutch babies.)
What keeps cooks faithful to one recipe is often some confluence of ease and surprise. Eyre’s pancake possesses both. A batter of flour, milk, eggs, and nutmeg is blended together, then poured into a hot skillet filled with butter and baked. Anyone confused? I didn’t think so. The surprise comes at the end, when you open the oven door to find a poufy, toasted, utterly delectable-looking pancake. It soon collapses as you shower it with confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice, slice it up and devour it. It’s sweet and tart, not quite a pancake and not quite a crepe. But lovable all the same.
Don’t overmix the batter, or the pancake will be tough—a few lumps are fine. This is the moment to call your well-seasoned cast-iron skillet into service.–Amanda Hesser
LC When This Recipe First Appeared Note
April 10, 1966: “Pancake Nonpareil,” By Craig Claiborne. Recipe Adapted From David Eyre.
David Eyre's Dutch Babies Pancake Recipe
- Quick Glance
- 15 M
- 35 M
- Serves 2 to 4
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- Jelly, jam, or marmalade, for serving
- 1. To make the Dutch babies, heat the oven to 425 °F (218°C). Combine the flour, milk, eggs, and nutmeg in a bowl. Beat lightly. Leave the batter a little lumpy.
- 2. Melt the butter in a 12-inch skillet with a heatproof handle. When it is very hot, pour in the batter. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the pancake is golden brown.
- 3. Sprinkle the Dutch babies with the sugar and return briefly to the oven. Sprinkle with lemon juice, and serve with jelly, jam, or marmalade.
Hungry for more? Chow down on these:
David Eyre's Dutch Babies Pancake Recipe © 2010 Amanda Hesser. All rights reserved.