Puff the magic pancake

As much as I love pancakes, I’d never been able to find a recipe I really, REALLY liked. That all changed while we were working on King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking, the book we published 2 years ago. At the start of the project, the three authors—myself, fellow blogger Susan Reid, and Susan Miller, director of King Arthur’s Baking Education Center—divvied up the book’s proposed chapters. And in we jumped.

I grabbed yeast bread, cookies, and pie; Susan Miller took the breakfast chapter, along with several others. HA! Whole-grain pancakes—I can’t even make a good pancake out of all-purpose flour, never mind trying to deal with the vagaries of whole grains… So it was with great delight that I tasted Susan’s signature recipe for whole-grain pancakes—my goodness, they were PERFECT. Light, tender, moist and a bit “eggy” (in a nice way). I simply couldn’t limit myself to one test bite (a single bite being my “save the waistline” policy for taste-testing over 400 recipes.)

These pancakes absorb the butter and syrup without becoming soggy; they even look lovely, golden brown shading to darker patches. Homemade Whole Grain Pancakes (p. 4, the second recipe in the book) has become my go-to, default, constant-companion pancake recipe. (And sorry, it’s not online—if you don’t have the book, check it out at your library. Or heck, you COULD even buy the book, which as I can witness after taste-testing those 400+ recipes, is filled with REALLY tasty treats.)

But getting back to my lingering pancake ineptitude, I still don’t have a traditional “white flour” pancake recipe I love. So, time and time again, I go back to a 40-year-old favorite breakfast treat, something my mom found in The New York Times and made for us on special occasions. A recipe that was that newspaper’s most-requested reprint ever.

Called “David Eyre’s Pancake” in the Times, it’s simply another version of Dutch babies, Swedish puffs, German pancakes… take your geographical pick. The flour-butter-egg-milk batter is basically a popover batter, gussied up with a bit of sugar and spices. Poured into sizzling butter in a shallow pan and baked, it puffs to amazing heights in the oven. Pull it out, drizzle with lemon juice, sprinkle with sugar, add a few berries, and serve—immediately. It deflates quickly (sigh), but its taste lingers on long after its impressive height has evaporated.

Ready? Let’s make Puff Pancakes.

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First, find an oven-safe frying pan that’s the right size. It should be between 10” and 11” across the bottom. Either straight or sloping sides are fine, but make sure it’s wide enough at the bottom.

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Put flour, sugar, spices, and some lemon peel in one bowl; eggs, milk, and vanilla in another (or in a measuring cup).

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Put your chosen pan on a hot burner, and heat the butter.

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Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients till smooth. This isn’t smooth.

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THIS is smooth.

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When the butter is melted and sizzling…

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Pour the batter into the pan.

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Immediately put the pan in the oven, which you’ve preheated to 425°F.

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While the pancake is baking, get your lemon and confectioners’ sugar ready.

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WHOA! Look at that pancake POP!

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All ready to come out.

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A squeeze of lemon…

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A sprinkle of confectioners’ sugar…

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Add berries…

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Slice and serve!

View our recipe for Puff Pancakes.

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel was born in Wisconsin, grew up in New England, and graduated from Brown University. She was a journalist in Massachusetts and Maine before joining the King Arthur Flour Company in 1990, where she's been ever since. Author or co-author of three King Arthur ...

comments

  1. Jenna

    We love a variation of these — we call them Monsters! I love that my kids get eggs without realizing it. YUM!

    Reply
  2. Elianna

    WOW! I hate making pancakes b/c they never turn out right. But I’m going to have to find an oven-safe frying pan now & try these! :) Thanks! I love this blog.

    Reply
  3. Barbara

    OK, now I know what I’m making for breakfast tomorrow morning…with those fresh strawberries I just bought, too. ;)

    Reply
  4. Annette

    It’s “Kaiserschmarren”! (Or “Emperor’s pancake”) An Austrian dessert, usually made with raisins, on the stove (rather than in the oven), and then torn in pieces with knife and fork before serving.

    Reply
  5. Beth

    PJ, I think the Zephyr (think I spelled that right) pancakes in the “Baker’s Companion” are great “white flour” pancakes, as is the recipe for “Simple But Perfect Pancakes.” I’ll have to try this new recipe of yours.

    Reply
  6. Kat DeFonce

    I can’t wait to try these!!! This recipe and the pictures totally reminds me of an old French omelet recipe that my mother and grandmother used to make, of which I have been searching for the recipe for over 20 years. Perhaps you know it? It does not have the nutmeg, lemon, sugar, or vanilla as I recall. Now I know where to start (I hope) in order to perhaps recreate the recipe on my own. All other attempts at recreation have been a bust, I’m afraid.) I can’t wait to try both! I have a visitor here, with me now, and she wants me to make your pancake NOW as both our mouths are watering!

    Reply
  7. Jennifer

    Thank You for my dinner idea tonight. I have a recipe I got from an old Reader’s digest Cookbook that is called a Giant Pancake and the kids adore it. I generally thinly slice an apple (if I have one) and saute in the butter before I add the batter. I also add cinnamon to the batter if I add the apple then I sprinkle a little bit of cinnamon sugar on top when it’s done.

    Reply
  8. Cary Ericson

    I have beeen making David Eyre pancakes for at least 25 years. We use a pyrex pie plate in the oven. But love your pictures and directions

    Reply
  9. PJ Hamel

    Annette, how does it puff way up without going into the oven? Or does it not puff way up?

    Beth (yes, Zephyr – exactly right) and “Simple But Perfect” – what can I say, I know these are good but I’m STILL a pancake dunce! It’s like, some people have a green thumb when it comes to gardening? I don’t have a white (floury?) thumb when it comes to pancakes, I guess…

    Reply
  10. Mare

    Unlike the directions above, the recipe does not call for heating the pan before adding the batter. I hadn’t seen this page before I tried it this morning, so I made it according to the recipe. It was very tasty, but not as puffy as in the pics above. Next time I’ll preheat! The lemon juice made it kind of soggy. Next time I’ll skip the lemon and use sliced strawberries with chocolate sauce. :-D

    Reply
  11. Candace R.

    PJ, I have been making this for nearly 40 years. Got the recipe from my MIL who lived in NYC so I imagine she got it from the Times. She called it Hawaiian Pancake. Over the years I have varied it many ways. I bake it in a cast iron skillet. I taught it (as a guest cook) to the Creative Cooking class at the HS I work at and had half of the kids make savory versions and half sweet. When you do the savory, using carmelized onions, sausage, peppers, what ever you have in the fridge, it’s a great light supper.

    Reply
  12. Debra S.

    I tried this on Sunday (cooked my own Mother’s Day breakfast) and it stuck to the pan horribly. I made sure that the melted butter was completely covering the pan bottom before I poured in the batter…what should I have done differently? Does it make a difference whether I melt the butter in the pan vs. melting the butter separately and pouring it into the pan?
    Other than this, it tasted great and got a thumbs-up from my family!

    Reply
  13. PJ Hamel , post author

    Debra, if you used a butter substitute of some kind (e.g., “light” butter, or anything other than 100% butter), that’s one cause of sticking. I think not heating the butter hot enough is another reason. Personally, before making anything like this I spray the pan with nonstick vegetable oil spray first, then melt the butter – that helps, too. Hope you try it again!

    Reply
  14. Benjamin Sawyer

    I cannot wait to try this!

    Reading other comments I know that high heat is important when pouring the batter into the sizzling butter. Having the butter sizzling hot when you pour the batter in will instantly puff the crust next to the pan and that crust will float on the thin layer of hot oil preventing it from sticking. Another reason for sticking is perhaps not using enough butter? The ingredients of this recipie is not designed for low fat eating. Size of portion is the key to preserving waistline. I wouldn’t skimp on the amount of butter used in the pan. The photo shows a good layer floating in the pan.

    Another cause for sticking would be using a pan that is not thick enough to hold the heat when you add the batter. The author used a heavy gauge professional pan in the photos. Others talk of using cast iron skillets (my choice also).

    Also warming the liquids to room temperature before mixing the batter can help avoid the batter being so cold as to prevent the heat flash reaction with the batter to give you the desired effect of bottom crust (in short; preventing sticking).

    Timing will also be critical. Watching to keep the butter from beginning to brown is important. This suggests making sure the batter is all prepared and ready for pouring into the butter when it is perfect. PJ, your suggestion of spraying the pan with vegetable oil before melting the butter is another good trick. A couple of spoon-fulls (Tablespoon) of olive oil or other vegetable oil will help to delay the burning of the butter and permit it to get hotter before it does burn.

    The secrete to pancakes is in the heat first, second the layer of fat heated in the pan.

    Using low fat butter substitutes will require adjustments because you are not working with a traditional amount of fat. those butter substitutes tend to have a lot of water. Water can be a good release substance but you will need to think along the lines of steaming rather than sauteeing

    Reply
  15. Pam McQuade

    My husband and I have made this recipe for years. You can top it with just about any fruit. Since my husband can’t eat berries, we’ve used all kinds of fruit. During the winter, when we only have a few options, we particularly like a mix of bananas and canned mandarin oranges–it is surprisingly good. In the summer, we have lots more options.

    I don’t think you can fail, whatever you top it with.

    Reply
  16. Shannon

    I am so happy that I stumbled upon this site! I have been looking for a while for some good recipes for pancakes that aren’t the same ole, same ole. And WOW! An entire site dedicated to pancakes!!! I AM IN HEAVEN!! Thank you so much for sharing your recipes and your photos. I love this blog and will definitely be back on a regular basis!

    Reply
  17. karieeleison

    Thank you for posting this. My parents made this numerous times while we were growing up–for breakfast on a weekend or even dinner sometimes, if Dad was making dinner ;) Good to know it’s pretty much teh same recipe as popovers, too, as I’ve been looking for a good recipe for those. You brought back some wonderful memories.

    Reply
  18. Marijane Stafford

    40 yrs ago these were called Dutch Babies in a Family Circle magazine, & my kids loved them then. Now my son makes them for his kids. I just used pie pans, one Pyrex & one metal, & never heated the butter in the pan before pouring in the batter. Never had a sticking problem.. Nice to know theyre still around –
    Mamajane

    Reply
  19. PJ Hamel , post author

    Nancy, I’d give sausage a big YUM YUM. (Just leave off the sugar and lemon.) How about a drizzle with mustard sauce?

    Reply
  20. O Henry

    PJ

    I have a child who is allergic to dairy proteins (whey, casein etc.). Can this recipe be adapted successfully using margarine and either soy milk or rice milk?

    Reply
  21. PJ Hamel , post author

    Yes, soy milk (or rice milk) and margarine would be fine. Just be sure to use full-fat margarine, not a low-fat substitute (which is full of water). Good luck, O -

    Reply
  22. Big Mike

    I also use a pyrex-9.5 dish. My wife loves this and we have it with blueberries and bacon for dinner.

    Reply
  23. Madreddog

    This first time I had a German pancake was when I was visiting family in Milwaukee. I was raised in South Texas and didn’t get to see the extended family very often so this was double treat. I think the restaurant was named “Pandel’s” (sp?). It was the best thing I had eaten at my very young age. When I got married about 40 years ago (boy, time sure does fly) I had told my husband about this pancake. I love to cook and he loves to eat so I started hunting for a recipe. I got a Settlement cookbook for a wedding present and found a German pancake. It was what i had been looking for. We have been eating them ever since. It makes a great dinner with adding sausage. We like to eat breakfast at dinner sometimes. I like the variations you added PJ and look forward to trying them. My husband will probably say, “Why did you change it, I liked it the other way?”

    Reply
  24. Nedra

    Anyway I could use a whole grain (i.e. spelt, barley, oat flour) for all or part of this recipe and it still turn out so beautifully? Thanks to your terrific wholegrain
    cookbook we’ve pretty much been able to give up simple carbs. Please continue to feature additional recipes or hints at substitutes for whole grains. Our motto is “make calories count”. Its a lot more fun that way! Many thanks!

    Reply
  25. PJ

    Nedra, I think using whole wheat flour would make a heavy pancake, both taste-wise, and texture. And using the others you mention might do the same.. But I’d try spelt first, oat second, and see how they work.

    Reply
  26. Antiques

    I just had pancakes this morning, I wish they were like these though =). I will definitely be using this recipe on Saturday mornings. I know my family will go crazy for these!

    Reply
  27. Donna Mae

    My mother use to make this recipe all the time as far back as I can remember, I’m 50 now. She called it Yorkshire Pudding and got the recipe from my Dad’s relatives who were English. Only we always had them for dinner and topped them with gravy, usually beef. I always knew they were a pop over type recipe but never thought of using them for breakfast. Hmmmm.
    I have a very old cookbook ( a Fanny Farmer) that also calls it Yorkshire Pudding. It states that the ingredients should be at room temp.
    I’ll have to give it a try for breakfast. Very easy to make.

    Donna Mae, this is indeed the same batter you’d use for Yorkshire pudding. And popovers. And probably pigs-in=blankets, too. And it is indeed easy! -PJH

    Reply
  28. NancyB

    My favorite way to serve these is topped with fresh peaches (sliced, tossed with a few teaspoons of sugar to draw out the juices, and maybe a squirt of lemon juice) and sour cream. Summer in a skillet!

    Reply
  29. Suzy B

    Oh, yes, I’m from Milwaukee and my first experience with these was at Pandl’s Restaurant. I’ve had it served warm with powdered sugar on top and good maple syrup, but my favorite is having it covered with sauteed apples that were cooked with butter, brown sugar, and a touch of cinnamon. Almost any fruit would do on these pancakes. Or go naked with just the sugar and maple syrup. Yummy.

    Reply
  30. April R

    I’ve made these many times over the years. Every once in a while, the pancake doesn’t puff — it’s just a solid flat mass. I don’t recall doing anything different but there must be something. Any ideas on what is required for ‘puffing up’ to happen (e.g., batter being room temperature, pan being hot, etc.)? I’m sure there’s some food chemistry explanation. I just don’t know what it is.

    Reply
  31. matt

    I make this all the time! its super easy and super delicious. One thing to comment on, is that when mixing the ingredients together.. i suggest using a hand whisk instead of a high speed mixer. the high speed tends to create a lot of bubbles and air in the mix, which kills the ‘raising’ of the pancake. it comes out flat and bubbly, similar to what a potato pancake would look like.
    So, definitely use a hand held whisk, so that the batter is smooth and creamy.

    Reply
  32. Laura

    My family liked to have these for special occasions, like Christmas morning. We called them Bismark pancakes though. I love them, but they sure do have a lot of butter.

    Reply

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