First, let me thank Rachael, @fujimama, for asking me to do this post during Pancake Week for her readers on Babble. Until this past week I had no idea there was an entire week devoted to pancake love but I’ve got the love so am more than willing to celebrate! Rachael is the quintessential blond American girl who has half of her heart in Japan; her knowledge of Japanese cuisine and her many recipes showing you how to follow suit are on her blog at La Fuji Mama along with some great stories and pictures of her adorable family. You must visit!
At first I thought I would do my standard, basic Buttermilk Pancakes. They are so perfect. I had seen so many variations on the pancake theme, fruits, filling, syrups…all decadent and wonderful but not one that I wanted more than these, plain, with butter and real maple syrup. But…of course there is a but…that while perfect in so many ways, they are a recipe from my ex-husband’s family and I decided that any story about having them the first time and getting the recipe, well…you can imagine, maybe not a story that I would exactly be thrilled to relate. I briefly considered these wonderful Blueberry Ricotta pancakes but luckily I had a ‘lightbulb’ moment…I knew what I HAD to do.
Luckily I recalled how much my family has always loved German Pancakes. I’m part German and my lovely Grandma Bathe introduced me to these when I young so this dish is not only unique but so
yummalicious. I’ve always called them a German Pancake but they are sometimes referred to as a Dutch Baby.
It’s really a giant pancake; an Americanized version of a German dish called Apfelpfannkuchen. Although called a pancake, the end result actually reminds me more of a crepe. They puff up as evidenced in the photo above and without leavening the end result is a thin layer that is traditionally finished with butter, lemon juice and powdered sugar.
Story has it that the name “Dutch Baby” was coined in a family-run restaurant in Seattle called Manca’s Cafe, owned by a gentleman named Victor Manca from about 1900 to the 1950s. The Dutch Baby was originally served as three small Dutch Babies served with powdered sugar and fresh squeezed lemon juice but eventually the “Big Dutch Baby” gained popularity. The Big Dutch Baby is usually what is referred to when reading about Dutch Babies. A Manca descendant wrote that the name was coined because Victor’s daughter, who came up with the name, could not pronounce “Deutsch, the German word for German.
How fitting that my grandparents, descendants of Germany and Switzerland, lived in a south-side neighborhood of St. Louis populated by what was called the Scrubby Dutch; another example of the word Deutsch becoming generally known as Dutch. Germans, in general, realize they are preserving their land for the future. This results in a clean, pleasant countryside and relatively manicured streets, even in big cities. If you wonder where the idea of “South St. Louis Scrubby Dutch” comes from, simply visit the central Rhine and points nearby. Germans in small villages take to the streets almost daily, to sweep small debris and keep their walkways looking attractive. This was so typical of my grandparents neighborhood, a quiet, conservative-Catholic neighborhood filled with Gingerbread bungalows. It was like going to a different world from our suburban neighborhood of new homes without grown trees and I loved it there. I found this picture using Google maps…it seemed so much larger when I was a little girl but no less precious.
This is easy to prepare and quite a unique presentation…one reason my children liked me to make it when they had friends sleep over; this is not everyone’s Grandma’s pancake!
Although I love the traditional method of serving with lemon juice on top sprinkled with some powdered sugar, I’ve always made a couple of options so for our family it would not be the same without apple slices sauteed in butter or cinnamon and sugar with toasted almonds on top. I provide all of those choices so everyone can have the version that most appeals to them.
A baked pancake traditionally served with lemon and powdered sugar.
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 Tbsp butter, melted
- 2 Tbsp butter, softened
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 2 apples, sliced
- 2 Tbsp sugar
- !To Make the Pancake:
- Using a wire whisk or fork, beat eggs until blended.
- Measure flour and salt into a bowl and whisk to blend.
- Add flour mixture to beaten eggs in 4 additions, beating slightly after each addition just until mixture is smooth.
- Add milk in 2 additions, beating slightly after each.
- Lightly beat in butter.
- Melt remaining 2 Tbsp of butter on low heat in 9 or 10 inch heavy skillet.
- Pour batter into skillet and bake at 450 degrees for 20 minutes.
- Slip onto a heated platter and serve immediately.
- Traditionally served with melted butter, a squeeze of lemon juice and a dusting of powdered sugar.
- Melt butter in a small frying pan.
- Add apples and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Slowly cook over low heat, stirring occasionally until slices are glazed and tender.
- Spoon onto center of baked pancake or serve on the side.