The “Three P’s” of German topics guaranteed to bring on online arguements between normally levelheaded people are German Potato Salad, the German Christmas Pickle, and the German Pancake. (Potato, Pickle, Pancake). It’s exhausting. All German Potato Salads are authentic… Regional recipes get passed down through generations. So I will concede that your Oma’s warm German Potato Salad is tasty, but is my Oma’s Cold Mayonaise version. Then there is the Christmas Pickle. I think the tradition is adorable, but Mr. Woolworth invented it as a way to sell more glass Christmas ornaments. (Ironically, I’ve seen marketing in Germany claiming that it is a fun AMERICAN tradition.) But neither of these topics bring up the scathing comments and ire associated with the ‘German’ Dutch Baby Pancake Recipe.
This oven baked “pancake” gets the label “Dutch Baby” (Deutsch Baby) and German Pancake. But, is it really German? Do Deutsch speaking people make and eat it? (And is it really worth fighting over?) I think you might be surprised at the origins of this sweet treat.
Eierkuchen, Pfannekuchen, Plinsen, Eierpfannekuchen, and Palatschinken
What IS a German Pancake? Officially, Eierkuchen (Egg Cake) or Pfannekuchen (Pan Cake) is made from eggs, milk, and flour. A little sugar can make it sweet, leave out the sugar, and you can make it savory. The whole thing is cooked up in a pan on top of the stove.
But what happens if you take those same ingredients, and pour them into a pan…. THEN SET THE PAN IN THE OVEN! You get a Dutch Baby. A puffed up pancake that rises while baking, then collapses like a failed Souffle or a WIDE Popover. That’s a Dutch Baby, what some people will call, a German Pancake.
Recently the German Magazine Spiegel did an article titled “Der »Deutsche Pfannkuchen«, den in Deutschland niemand kennt” (“The German Pancake that no one in Germany Knows About”). And the article tells same origin story that I see everywhere from America’s Test Kitchen and Taste of Home, to Gastro Obscura.
As the story goes- Once upon a time; In the early 1900’s Seattle restaurant called Manca’s, served pancakes using a batter that originated in Germany… only instead of cooking them up on the stove top, they put the pans into the oven. WHY? Most likely the answer is “efficiency”. It’s much easier to set a pan of batter into the oven than it is to watch and flip on the stove.
And the name Dutch? The story says that one of the owner’s daughters goofed the name Deutsch into Dutch…. (the “baby” came from the miniature versions that the restaurant specialized in).
So, a Dutch Baby turns out to be an American dish, made from German roots.
Or is it.
A while back I took part in a cooking demonstration for Kaiserschmarrn (Torn Pancakes). Instead of cooking the initial Pfannekuchen (Pancake) on the stove like I’ve done 1000 times before… the chef put the batter filled pan INTO THE OVEN. It came out looking like a classic “Dutch Baby” (before it got torn to shreds and topped with amazing Apple Compote- find that recipe here)
Did the chef at Xavar’s use a traditional Austrian Recipe for Kaiserschmarrn that utilized the oven? Could the Dutch Baby be Austrian? Or was it an efficiency adaptation?
I did a little digging. (Well, I googled) and guess what I found? A recipe for Österreich Ofenpfannekuchen (Austrian Oven Pancakes) is the same as our friend the “Dutch Baby”. The Dutch Baby comes from Austria? (Well, THAT’S a fun surprise!) Funny, since in Austria, the German Eierkuchen is known as Palatschinken. Sigh.
But then… one more search, and up pops a Finnish recipe Pannukakku. Yup… it’s an oven baked Pancake. And apparently a common treat in Finland (so… Finland to Seattle? I know it’s home to a lot of Norwegians…)
Maybe, just like Potato Salad... there is no one way to make (or name) a pancake.
German Dutch Baby Pancake Recipe
Call it whatever you like, this really is a tasty dish. Serve for breakfast, brunch, dessert, or even dinner. (Pancakes for dinner is a family favorite).
It’s easiest to use an oven-proof frying pan (no plastic handles!), but a cake pan can work in a pinch.
Serve straight from the pan (careful it’s HOT) filled with fresh fruit and dusted with powdered sugar.
Dutch Baby/ "German Pancake" Recipe
For 10 inch pan:
- 3 Eggs
- ½ cup Flour
- ¾ cup Milk
- 2 Tablespoons Sugar
- ½ -1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- 3 Tablespoons Butter
For 12 inch pan:
- 4 Eggs
- ¾ cup Flour
- ¾ cup Milk
- 3 tablespoons Sugar
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
- 4 Tablespoons Butter
- Preheat Oven to 425°F
- Set your oven proof pan in the oven to heat.
- In a blender combine the eggs, flour, milk, sugar, and vanilla. Blend thoroughly, then let stand for 15 minutes.
- When the oven and pan are HOT, remove the pan from the oven (be careful), and set on a rack or stovetop. Put the butter in the hot pan to melt.
- When it’s melted, pour the batter into the pan. Swirl to fill the pan evenly.
- Put the filled pan back into the oven.
- Bake 15 minutes. DON’T OPEN THE OVEN.
- When the timer goes off, peek in. If it's brown and rise, remove the pan from the oven. The sides will have come up, and it will even have domed in the center. If not yet brown, let bake go another 3 minutes.
- After removing. Let it sit for a minute… then fill the center with fruit and dust with powdered sugar.
- Serve in the pan.
- Top with whipped cream if you like.
Like this Recipe? Check out my Easy German Cookbook
Filled with 80 Traditional German Recipes, made Easy for the American Kitchen.
How to make the Dutch Baby/ “German Pancake”
Blend all of the ingredients except for the Butter.
Heat Oven to 425° with the pan in the oven… melt butter in the pan
Pour the batter over the butter… then bake in the oven for 20 minutes
Remove carfully. IT IS HOT!
Top with fruit and sprinkle with powdered sugar…. serve with whipped cream or syrup or as it comes