German Pancakes are the first thing I baked in my newly seasoned cast iron skillet.
(Yours isn’t seasoned yet? Here is How To Season A Cast Iron Skillet!)
This recipe is for an 8″ skillet, since that’s the largest one I can hold steady with one hand. If you have a 10″ skillet, double the recipe, using 6 eggs. These are also known as Dutch Pancakes or Dutch Babies even though they aren’t Dutch, and aren’t pancakes. My husband describes them as “a bread omelette” which I suppose isn’t too far off; I consider them a pastry. These are not sweet but not savory either so it’s tough to categorize them unless you’ve tried them. I love them with a spritz of fresh squeezed lemon juice and a quick brown sugar apple topping or a sprinkle of powdered sugar. I have had them at restaurants served with sugary berries but I prefer the slightly more sour/acidic flavor companion.
The first time I made German Pancakes I was in seventh grade. I’d gotten a recipe from my home economics teacher as a handout with no photos, no notes as to what the finished product was supposed to turn out like, and no internet which is basically walking uphill both ways in the snow as far as how old that makes me feel, but I digress. When I pulled that beautiful puffy pastry out of the oven, I was so disappointed that I’d messed up the recipe that I cried and decided I was a terrible cook. Good thing I tasted it though, because it was darn delicious. Many years later I ordered one in a restaurant to see what they were supposed to be like, and imagine my surprise when out of the kitchen came almost exactly the same thing I’d been so upset about creating. Mine had been perfect! This is back when I couldn’t cook a pot of pasta to save my life so that felt like quite an accomplishment.
You too can recreate this perfection. Really, there is hardly any work involved if you already have your cast iron skillet seasoned. After the baking, as soon as the pan is cool enough to touch, wipe it out with a clean towel or paper towel so it’s all clean and ready to be used next time. These are easiest to clean when they are still warm.
If you’re going to make the apple topping, start that first. The pancake cooks a lot faster than you think it will.
Brown Sugar Apple Topping: In a large pot, mix together 3 apples (peeled, cored, and sliced), 3/4 cup water, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, and about 3 Tbsp of brown sugar. Cook over medium-low, stirring occasionally, until they are as done as you want them. If you continue cooking until the apples are mushy, it becomes applesauce, so any time between “mostly not crunchy” and “too soft to hold their shape” is perfect. This is also a great use for that brown sugar brick, as the sugar doesn’t need to be measured. You can cut the amount of sugar in half or double it and the sauce will still be great. Break off a chunk and toss it in, and the heat will melt it apart. If you can’t break off a chunk, place the sugar brick on a plate (make sure to remove the wax paper bag!) and microwave it for 5 seconds and it should loosen up, at least for a few minutes. The large pot seems like overkill for only a few apples but they are much easier to stir without making a giant stove-top mess and they cook more quickly and evenly.
– Mix together apple topping ingredients in the pot before it goes onto the hot stove (premixing isn’t actually necessary but it’s fun!)
– Pour egg mixture into flour mixture
– Turn on the oven light so kids can watch the magic happening of the German Pancake puffing up over the edges of the skillet.
– Play with leftover spiral apple peels, which make lovely (also sticky) necklaces and bracelets and leashes for imaginary pets and if the kids or dogs eat them it won’t hurt anybody.
Eggs from Rocky Mountain Eggs
Flour from Lehi Roller Mills
Milk from Rosehill Dairy
Apples from Mountainland Apples
Salt from Real Salt
All purchased through my favorite local stores as I await the upcoming openings of the summer farmers markets!
Pastry-like German Pancakes are baked in a cast iron skillet for a wonderful brunch with lemon slices and a quick sweetened apple topping.
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 3-4 eggs (I use 4)
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 Tbsp butter
- Special equipment: 7" cast iron skillet (seasoned), good heavy pot holders
- Optional: First, make brown sugar apple topping - mix together in a large soup pot: 3 apples, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, and 3 Tbsp brown sugar. Cook on medium-low, stirring occasionally, until the German Pancakes are ready to serve.
- Put a 7" cast iron skillet on the center rack in the oven and preheat the oven and skillet to 425.
- In a medium bowl, mix together flour and salt.
- In a small bowl, use a whisk to gently mix together eggs, milk, and vanilla just until combined.
- Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and whisk until they are combined. The batter will be slightly lumpy, that's okay, don't over mix it or the pastry will turn out too tough.
- Using good sturdy pot holders, carefully remove the hot skillet from the oven and set it on a heatproof surface (a trivet or gas stovetop is good). Drop the butter in and swirl it around, including up the inside edges.
- Pour the batter into the buttered pan and quickly pop it back into the oven. Bake for 20 minutes.
- Remove from oven and let rest on a heatproof surface for about ten minutes - the puffiness will fall so it looks bowl-like with golden brown edges and an eggy center. Use a heat-resistant spatula to move the pastry from the pan to a cutting board so it can be sliced for serving.
- Garnish with lemon wedges, powdered sugar, and hot apple topping.