David Eyre’s Pancake

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.

Cooking Notes:

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

Just in case you were wondering, this Dutch babies pancake recipe first appeared in The New York Times on April 10, 1966, in an article titled “Pancake Nonpareil” by Craig Claiborne. The recipe is, natch, adapted from David Eyre.

David Eyre's Dutch Babies Pancake Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 15 M
  • 35 M
  • Serves 2 to 4

Ingredients

  • 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

Directions

  • 1. Preheat the oven to 425 °F (218°C).
  • 2. Combine the flour, milk, eggs, and nutmeg in a bowl. Beat lightly. Leave the batter a little lumpy.
  • 3. 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. Sprinkle the Dutch babies with the sugar and return briefly to the oven. Sprinkle with lemon juice and serve with jelly, jam, or marmalade.
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Testers Choice

Testers Choice
Testers Choice
Adrienne Lee

Oct 24, 2010

This recipe is great. In fact, my daughter said that it's definitely a recipe I should make again. What I liked is that the recipe is easy to make. Putting the pan back in briefly after sprinkling the powdered sugar on top created a little crustiness that was a nice contrast. We don't usually use jam in these situations, so we drizzled a little caramel over the Dutch baby and it was sublime. I've also used maple syrup on oven pancakes. Amanda Hesser's note about leaving a few lumps is on target.

Comments
Comments
  1. Steve says:

    I often make David Eyre’s pancake for Sunday breakfast. They are fabulous!
    I make mine with some differences. I put the skillet in the oven while I preheat it. When the oven comes to temperature, I put the butter in the skillet and return it to the oven until the butter melts and starts to brown. I usually double the recipe and use equal amounts of flour and milk (1 cup each). Four eggs, of course. Also, I prefer to beat the batter until the lumps are almost gone. I use 4 four to five heaping tablespoons of powdered (not confectioner’s) sugar. And still the juice of only 1/2 a lemon. I only bake the pancake for 12 to 15 minutes.
    I love to eat the outside of the pancake with apricot jam, and eat the inside au naturel. My wife puts maple syrup on hers. I find this sacrilegious.

    • Renee Schettler Rossi, LC Editor-in-Chief says:

      Thanks for sharing your tweaks, Steve. I rely on the same heat-the-skillet-in-the-oven tactic with this manner of recipe. As for the most acceptable manner of eating the pancake, I’m not going to comment, given that even more marital discord may result. Suffice it to say, I understand what you mean, although with something like this, is there really a right or wrong or sacreligious way? Or do we just smugly ignore what our dear one does, as with so many little things in life?

  2. Beth Price, LC Recipe Testing Director says:

    Hi Steve,

    I will be at your house on Sunday. Do you have any strawberry jam or should I bring my own?

    Glad you enjoy them…

  3. Diane says:

    I have made this several times but since we are not really a jelly/jam family, the garnish was simply powdered sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice. It is simple and delightful.

    • Renee Schettler Rossi, LC Editor-in-Chief says:

      I’m not a big jam/jelly person, either, Diane. Your solution sounds just as you said. Delightful.

  4. I’m from a family of German descendants and this was a favorite that my Grandmother made when we were kids that I make for my kids today. Story has it that the Dutch in the name of Dutch Babies was actually Americanized Deutsch (German) and that the Babies came into being when some folks started serving them smaller and 3 to a plate. Diane’s version with powdered sugar and lemon juice is more standard but we also always sauteed some apples to serve alongside. The end result is more of a crepe than a pancake and they are always a big hit.

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