I am a complete pancake snob and it’s all my grandma’s fault. She owned a café when I was growing up, and she made the best buttermilk pancakes in all the land. If cooking/travel shows had existed back then, I am positive they would have declared her pancakes to be the best. She would have made Bobby Flay weep in a pancake “throwdown”. My grandma essentially ruined pancakes for me for the rest of my life. *sigh* Her pancakes were like a beautiful stack of clouds with crispy, golden brown edges smothered in fresh butter. My parents would drop off my sister and I at the café almost every morning throughout my first year of school. It was my grandma’s responsibility to feed us before we walked to school. I don’t remember eating anything other than those pancakes. Every. Single. Morning. Looking back, I wonder if she ever became concerned that I was carbo-loading before school every day. I was already a slightly chubby kid, and the pancakes ensured that I grew out of my pants very quickly. Now, I’ve tried hundreds of pancakes throughout my 37 years. For many years, it was my go-to brunch choice. I thought if I just ordered pancakes at enough restaurants, eventually I would strike gold. They can’t ALL taste like cardboard, can they?? Oh yes, yes they can. Since then, I have only found one other restaurant (ONE!) that makes pancakes as good as my grandma’s. It happens to be a greasy spoon diner in Manhattan called Johny’s Luncheonette. They are moist and tangy from the buttermilk and yet nice and crispy around the edges. This place is actually one block away from my husband and I’s old apartment in Chelsea. We lived together in that apartment for three years but we didn’t discover Johny’s until the last six months we were there. I was both elated to find it and yet saddened that it had been there all along without my knowledge. I am serious about my pancakes. I wish I had known about Dutch baby pancakes much earlier. I guess I did, technically speaking. There is a restaurant in Rochester, MN called Pannekoeken that makes pancakes in the style that originates from The Netherlands/Belgium- essentially Dutch baby pancakes. They are much wider and thinner than American pancakes, and are typically baked in a skillet. I know I had them occasionally at Pannekoeken growing up but they were never all that memorable. Again, thanks Grandma. A friend alerted me to this recipe a couple of years ago and said I had to try it. She was sure it would make the cut. She was right. I think I ate half the pan that morning in-between raving about it to my husband. The recipe comes from Melissa Clark’s cookbook, In the Kitchen with A Good Appetite. It’s a great investment if you are looking for a worthwhile cookbook to add to your collection.
Dutch baby pancakes are eggier and sweeter than American pancakes. There is also plenty of butter in the pancakes themselves so no need to add any on top. After they have finished baking, all you have to do is sprinkle confectioner’s sugar and lemon juice on top and voilá, breakfast is served. The best part is that you don’t have to stand over the stove and make an infinite number of pancakes, which can be time consuming. Dutch babies are baked in the oven and take all of 15 minutes. I added a dollop of elderberry jam to mine, just because.
Dutch Baby Pancake
Adapted from In the Kitchen with A Good Appetite
Yield: 1 pancake
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch of salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 1/2 lemon)
1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, flour, cinnamon, and salt until combined. The mixture will be lumpy.
2. In a 10-inch ovenproof skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. When the butter has melted, carefully pour in the pancake batter and transfer the skillet to the oven. Bake until the pancake is puffy and golden brown around the edges, about 15-20 minutes.
3. Working quickly, take the skillet out of the oven and, using a fine-mesh sieve, shake the confectioner’s sugar over the pancake. Return the skillet to the oven until the butter has been absorbed into the pancake and the sugar is lightly caramelized, an additional 3 minutes.
4. Splash the lemon juice over the pancake, cut into wedges, and serve immediately.