ORIGINAL RECIPE: My mother-in-law’s recipe for Puff Pancake, which is another name for a Dutch Baby, as recorded in my 2003 recipe book (for friends and family), It’s All Good.*
TIMING: 30 minutes, including the bake time. The prep is super fast.
DIFFICULTY: Easy peasy
TOOLS: Blender and cast iron pan/pot. (You might get away with a food processor and baking dish, but I wouldn’t recommend it. The processor might not hold the liquid and the baking dish may not allow for the proper rise.)
COOK TYPE: Oven
HEALTH: Not too bad, considering it is a breakfast bread. Usually, breakfast breads (like pancakes or coffee cake) are replete with sugar and white flour, but this version of Dutch Baby is mostly whole grain and contains very little sugar (at least until you garnish it).
My recipe calls for whole spelt flour, which may or may not be readily available and affordable–let alone familiar–to you. Spelt is a low gluten grain, but not gluten free! I love spelt flour because in it’s whole form it is less earthy than whole grain wheat flour (or other options) and also has this wonderful slightly-sweet, nutty taste. I use it constantly in baked goods, which makes it fortunate for me that I have an organic grain mill in the next town over and can buy it wholesale by the 25 pound bag. If it is out of your reach, you could use all purpose, of course, or, more preferably, whole wheat.
EXPERIENCE: It was feeling like a special morning, so I wandered to the kitchen with the intent of making an easy breakfast which the kids would feel special. (They were raucously demanding crepes, but I let my husband retain domain of crepes, since it is one of his only four kitchen feats.) I pulled my family recipe book off the shelf and settled on my mother-in-law’s version of Puff Pancake, aka Dutch Baby, the only version I have ever known.
I married into the ol’ Puff Pancake. When my husband was growing up, it was the special breakfast that his mother would make, bringing it to the table in all it’s risen glory straight from the oven, glistening with butter, steaming in her mittened hands, as all eyes watched her approach. All her grown kids still request it when they go “home,” and so it has become the kind of thing my kids also ask for and that I, too, look forward to when we are in Syracuse.
I have never been able to get the awesome rise out of a Puff Pancake that my mother-in-law does. I suspect this is partly from the choice of whole grain flour, but I think it is more attributable to the pan I use. My mother-in-law has the perfect puff pancake pan, that she has been using for many years, while my cast iron shapes are less ideal. What you are looking for is cast iron, and wide and shallow. Hers in an oblong baking pan with handles, while mine is either a skillet or a soup pot. Even if you don’t get a jaw-dropping rise, you will still have a clafouti-esqe pancake which will taste yummy, anyhow.
Traditionally, Dutch Baby is served sprinkled with powdered sugar, with lemon slices. However, maple syrup is a more American topping. My favorite would be fresh fruit (with–for a special occasion–whipped cream), and the fruit I refer to could be any berry or cherry, pitted fruit (like peaches, nectarines), apples, pears, or bananas. I have also been known to puree frozen berries with maple syrup. It makes this cold tart-sweet sauce that nicely contrasts with the hot pancake.
Speaking of which, this is sort of like a souffle: meant to be served immediately. The first few minutes hold the key to really impressing everyone, after which the cake will begin to deflate (at least a bit).
- Preheat your cast iron pan in a 450F oven! You can not skip this step! Go get dressed or brush your teeth or something while you wait.
- In a blender, dump (in order) 6 eggs and 1 1/2 cups milk. Blend on high for 3 minutes.
- Add 1 cup spelt flour, 1/2 cup all purpose or pastry flour, 2 tablespoons sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon and blend 1 more minute, scraping down the sides half way through.
- Drop 3 tablespoons unsalted butter into your hot pan in the oven and wait for it to melt.
- Remove the pan, swirl the butter around (being very careful!) and dump in the batter.
- Place quickly back into the oven and bake for 10 minutes.
- Reduce heat to 350F and bake another 10 minutes. It is done when the cake has puffed up and is lightly brown.
Serve with powdered sugar and lemon; maple syrup; or fresh fruit (and optional whipped cream).
*Recipe has been changed from the original.