This post was originally published several years ago and I was inspired to bring it out of the archives for two reasons. Google Maps Street View. Once I located my grandparents old home it brought back such wonderful memories. I started traveling down memory lane and had to make this original German pancake for breakfast and decided this recipe should be shared again; it’s too good to miss. Beyond that? I’m on a personal mission to acquaint everyone with a German pancake…and let them know there is nothing Dutch about it!
I’ve got a problem and it’s called a Dutch Baby. Every single time I see someone extol the virtues of that breakfast treat I want to scream it to the mountains; they simple butchered a name, that’s all!! Why does this matter so much to me?? Well, I’ve got a lot of German blood thanks to my dad’s side of the family and I know when my Grandma Bathe first prepared one of these pancakes for me and shared their history, there were no tulips or clogs in sight; nope, none. So I’m here to right a wrong; to share why this is indeed a GERMAN pancake; join my mission won’t you? :)
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. A Manca descendant wrote that the name was coined because Victor’s daughter could not pronounce ‘Deutsch,’ the German word for German; and out of her mouth came Dutch and the deed was done. Originally served as three small German pancakes with powdered sugar and fresh squeezed lemon juice; the’ Dutch Baby’ moniker was born. Eventually a regular size serving, labeled the “Big Dutch Baby” gained popularity and is what is so often referred to today. So, let’s see. A mispronunciation leads to a new name which is furthered by making them little but eventually they get big again and yet the butchered name stays the same.
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.
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 and I remember many special nights staying in that bedroom on the upper right listening to the birds in the tree in the front yard. For me it was just this side of Heaven.
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 and sugar or cinnamon and sugar with toasted almonds on top. I provide all of those choices so everyone can have their version of this GERMAN pancake that appeals to them most whatever name they insist upon using! :)