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What Is a Dutch Baby Pancake?

By C. K. Lanz
Updated May 16, 2024
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A Dutch baby pancake is a sweet and simple oven-baked pancake that can be topped with any kind of fruit, yogurt, or sugar. Also known as a German pancake, Dutch puff, or Bismark, this dish is made with four, milk, and eggs. The pancake billows while in the oven only to fall into a crater shape once it is removed. Several diner and restaurant chains specialize in their own variations of this breakfast food.

Thought to be inspired by the German apfelpfannkuchen, or apple pancake, the Dutch baby pancake traces its history back to the early 1900s. Victor Manca, the owner of a Seattle restaurant called Manca’s Cafe, is credited with introducing the dish. The etymology of the name is not certain. Some believe that one of Manca’s daughters coined the term because the pancakes were originally smaller and served in trios, while others maintain that Dutch is a corruption of Deutsch, or the German language word for German.

A typical recipe for a Dutch baby pancake calls for eggs, flour, and milk. The batter may also be flavored with vanilla, cinnamon, or honey. Many versions also call for lemon juice or zest. The ingredients are whisked together and poured into a hot 12-inch (30.5-cm) ovenproof skillet coated in butter. The pancake will bake in a hot oven for about 20 to 25 minutes or until the edges are golden brown and puffy.

Once it is removed from the oven, a Dutch baby pancake will collapse, forming a crater. Powdered or raw sugar is a common topping. Some variations add berries, apples, or other fruit to the deflated pancake center. Other recipes call for kiwi slices, nectarines, or peaches. Sour cream, yogurt, or syrup are other topping options. There are myriad ways to top a Dutch baby pancake, or it can be eaten plain.

This dish is typically eaten at breakfast or brunch. A Dutch baby pancake can be presented on a plate or in the skillet. It is commonly cut into wedges that are served with other breakfast sides. It is possible to bake the pancakes in smaller skillets and serve them in pairs or trios rather than cut wedges from a large one.

Some diner and restaurant chains specialize in their own versions of the Dutch baby pancake. For example, the Original Pancake House chain offers a large Dutch baby topped with butter, powdered sugar, and lemon. Manca’s Cafe, where the pancake was first introduced, closed in the 1950s, but the recipe was widely published in cookbooks and magazines like Sunset.

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Discussion Comments
By anon990080 — On Apr 05, 2015

To me, a dutch pancake is just a sweet yorkshire pudding. My hubby is Dutch and comes from Holland and has lived in Germany as well, and has never heard of these.

By jlknight65 — On Jun 15, 2011

@rebelgurl28 – I can answer that with a resounding *yes*! I have seen many examples of savory Dutch Oven Pancakes. Although far from the original and traditional recipe in taste they are a delicious alternative. It makes a great brunch dish and it is quite impressive and simple to serve when you have guests if you prepare ahead of time.

You can be very creative with the fillings. Many of the foods you would put in an omelet can be cooked up and served in a Dutch Oven Pancake. I have seen recipes using mushrooms, onions, peppers, spinach, assorted cheeses, and herbs.

The biggest change would be to reduce or leave out the sugar in the basic recipe. There are other changes you can make such as using olive oil instead of butter and adding herbs. Searching the Internet for savory Dutch Oven Pancake recipes will yield some places to start, but experimenting with your family’s taste in mind is always fun.

By rebelgurl28 — On Jun 14, 2011

These Dutch Oven Pancakes sound like they are delicious and not too difficult to make. I was wondering if anyone has tried a savory filling instead of a sweet one using the Dutch Oven Pancake as the base.

Sometimes I just get tired of all the sweet breakfast ideas like pancakes, waffles, and French toast; and I want something savory. Would I need to make very many changes to the basic recipe?

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