There’s American pancakes. True to their name, they’re cake like and leavened with baking powder or soda. They’re divisive in nature. Fluffy or thin? Kev likes his fluffy. I like mine the way I cut a deck of cards—thin to win—preferably with wheat flour. And then there’s French crêpes. A paper thin pancake. Best whipped together the night before with plenty of eggs and a good rest before hitting the griddle in the morning. It’s in that time that the flavor develops and milds while forming many tiny but strong webs within the batter. No chemical leavener necessary. Wedged in between the American pancake and the French crêpe, sits the Dutch Baby. Our second favorite baby. Hal is number one, of course.
It’s also called a German pancake. It’s thick and custardy and craggy. It comes together fast in a blender and bakes in a cast iron skillet, leaving the clean up nearly non-existent. The eggs provide all the lift needed. A quick run through the blades of the blender awakens their powers. Regular, all-purpose flour is highly recommended. Wheat flour weighs too heavily on the eggs, yielding something flat and dense.
The window to the oven is always plastered with new handprints after a bake. We watch as it crawls up the sides of the pan and forms a mountain or two in the middle. They sometimes crack at the shear force. I like to think the earth and all its terrain was formed this way—in a very hot oven with a bit of flour, milk, awakened eggs, and the guidance of a firm cast iron pan.
We top the Dutch Baby with whatever’s most ripe at the store. Right now, it’s pears. We lightly sauté them in popping butter and a hit of brown sugar and cinnamon. We top that with a generous dollop of plain whole milk yogurt and maple syrup. Always. And on special days, a shmear of nutella. This is a classic game of one-upping. A game where everyone wins.
So on weekend mornings when you’re pressed for time, when you don’t want to clean 1,000 dishes, or flip 500 hotcakes, do as the Germans do. Make a blender Dutch Baby.
- 4 tbsp. unsalted butter
- 3 large eggs
- 2/3 c. all-purpose unbleached flour
- 2/3 c. whole milk
- 2 tbsp. pure cane sugar
- 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 425°. Add butter into a 10" well-seasoned cast iron pan and place in oven until melted and bubbly while the oven preheats. The butter should be hot to begin cooking the dutch baby but not burned.
- Meanwhile, add eggs to a high-powered blender, like a Vitamix. Blend on medium-low speed for about 20 seconds. Eggs should be pale, fluffy, and bubbly. These guys will provide all the lift the custardy pancake needs.
- Add remaining ingredients to blender. Blend until just combined, about 5 seconds. Batter will be thin and bubbly.
- Once butter is hot and ready, remove the pan from the oven and immediately pour batter into the pan. Return to oven and cook for 15 minutes.
- While the dutch baby bakes, prepare toppings. We change it up seasonally. Late spring and summer, it's usually just fresh berries. Late fall, we cut up a couple of pears into thick slices and sauté them in a tablespoon of butter and brown sugar plus a hit of cinnamon for about 3 minutes. Deep winter, we opt for a shmear of banana curd. I imagine you'll have some good ideas here.
- Remove dutch baby from oven. It will be tall and craggy around the edges. If it falls a bit, don't worry. That's normal. Cut into wedges. Top as desired. We usually add plain whole milk yogurt and maple syrup. Special days get a shmear of nutella.