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What Is a Dutch Baby Pancake? + 10 Sweet and Savory Recipes

Linda explores food facts, folklore, and fabulous recipes one ingredient at a time.

Dutch baby pancakes aren't Dutch. They're not even European!

Dutch baby pancakes aren't Dutch. They're not even European!

What Is a Dutch Baby Pancake?

The Dutch baby pancake is a delightful sweet or savory meal, made with a batter of flour and eggs—but, oh my, it’s so terribly named. It’s not Dutch, it’s not baby (small) in size, and it certainly isn’t a pancake.

In order to find the origin of this pancake, we’ll need to travel back to Seattle, Washington, more than a century ago.

Victor Manca was born in Missouri in 1866. We know nothing of his early life other than that he had no more than a fifth-grade education. In 1894 he and his wife welcomed their first child, a son whom they named Vincent. The family moved to Seattle, Washington, in 1899, and Victor opened Seattle’s first Italian restaurant, Manca’s Café on Cherry Street between 2nd and 3rd avenues. In the next 11 years, three more children were added to the family: Milo born in 1902, Marcella born in 1907, and Josephine born in 1910.

One specialty at the café was Victor’s creative spin on pfannkuchen (German for pancakes). Instead of the traditional large cake, he made for each guest three dainty ones in a small skillet. Little Marcella loved the wee German (Deutsch) pancakes, but as a small child she could not pronounce the word ‘Deutsch.’ It came out sounding like ‘Dutch,’ and the name stuck. Dutch babies were born.

In the century since then, the popularity of Dutch babies has not waned. In fact, imaginative chefs and home cooks have devised countless flavors; there is definitely a Dutch baby for everyone.

How Are Dutch Babies Made?

The batter for Dutch babies is really quite simple—mix flour, milk, and eggs (heavy emphasis on the eggs) and pour into a pan that has been preheated in a hot oven. The protein in the egg and the gluten in the flour creates a dough that bonds together, much like the walls of a balloon. The instant application of heat causes the moisture in the batter to turn into steam, the balloon inflates, and in minutes you have a puffy, airy, bready treat. Some people have likened the Dutch baby to a cross between a pancake and a popover.

Apfelfannkuchen (German Apple Pancake)

Apfelfannkuchen (German Apple Pancake)

1. Apple Dutch Baby (Appfelpfannkuchen)

Let's begin by going back to the basics. The German apple pancake was the genesis of today's Dutch baby. The batter is easy to make; it's simply a mix of flour, milk, and eggs. The magic happens when you pour the egg mixture into a screaming-hot cast-iron skillet. Eighteen minutes later you'll have an apple Dutch baby. It's that easy.

Lemon Blueberry Dutch Baby

Lemon Blueberry Dutch Baby

2. Lemon Blueberry Dutch Baby

I love the combination of blueberries and lemon. Actually, if you can't find fresh blueberries, strawberries or raspberries would be a good substitution. Garnish this lemon blueberry Dutch baby with whipped cream or lemon curd.

Pumpkin Dutch Baby

Pumpkin Dutch Baby

3. Pumpkin Dutch Baby Cake With Maple Whipped Cream

As I write this article, we are in the midst of autumn—yes, it's pumpkin spice season! This pumpkin Dutch baby is made moist with pumpkin puree and is spiced with just a hint of cinnamon and nutmeg. I love the homemade pecan granola (there's a recipe for that, too) on top.

Triple Chocolate Dutch Baby

Triple Chocolate Dutch Baby

4. Triple Chocolate Dutch Baby

If you love dark chocolate (or love someone who does), this triple chocolate Dutch baby needs to be in your repertoire. The edges are crispy (like the edge of a brownie), the center is moist and fudgy, and (as you might have guessed from the title), a three-time dose of chocolate from Dutch-process cocoa, hazelnut spread, and chocolate chips.

If that isn't enough decadence for you, may I suggest one (or more) of the following toppings:

  • Chocolate or vanilla ice cream
  • Chocolate syrup
  • Dulce de leche
  • Caramel sauce
  • Butterscotch chips
  • Chocolate Chips
  • Whipped Cream
Whole Wheat Dutch Baby With Meyer Lemon Whipped Ricotta

Whole Wheat Dutch Baby With Meyer Lemon Whipped Ricotta

5. Whole Wheat Dutch Baby With Meyer Lemon Whipped Ricotta

I believe that all of us are gifted with some type of talent. Perhaps you are great at telling a story, painting a picture, cooking, baking, gardening, or sewing. (I think the ability to orient oneself north-south-east-west is an almost unworldly talent.)

My gift is the ability to rationalize the enjoyment of any decadent bit of food and convince myself that it's a healthy alternative.

Whole wheat Dutch babies are made with:

  • Whole grain wheat flour
  • Eggs (protein)
  • Milk (calcium)
  • Fresh fruit (the amazing garnish)

Have I convinced you? Seriously, the whole wheat has a nutty flavor and the whipped ricotta isn't as sweet as whipped cream; it has a tangy flavor enhanced with Meyer lemon juice and zest.

Bacon and Eggs Dutch Baby

Bacon and Eggs Dutch Baby

6. Bacon and Eggs Dutch Baby Pancake

The creator of this bacon and eggs Dutch baby has put a creative spin on the standard sweet-flavored pancake. While the pancake bakes she fries slices of bacon and fries four small eggs. Remove the baked pancake from the oven and top it with bacon and eggs. Cut into chunky wedges and serve with a drizzle of honey or maple syrup and if you choose a sprinkle of fresh herbs.

Chorizo Cheddar Dutch Baby

Chorizo Cheddar Dutch Baby

7. Chorizo Cheddar Savory Dutch Baby

I'm a sausage and eggs kinda person when it comes to breakfast; I think this chorizo cheddar Dutch baby would be great for a late breakfast on a lazy weekend. It takes only 20 minutes in the oven. Garnish with sour cream or crema, fresh tomato and/or avocado, and certainly a sprinkle of fresh cilantro or parsley.

Gluten-Free Dutch Baby

Gluten-Free Dutch Baby

8. Gluten-Free Dutch Baby

Although the author of this Dutch baby tops hers with fresh fruit, you can opt for a savory meal just as easily. This is simply a basic recipe for a gluten-free Dutch baby. Let your imagination soar.

Savory Kale Dutch Baby

Savory Kale Dutch Baby

9. Savory Kale Dutch Baby

This savory kale Dutch baby will remind you of an omelet or frittata. If you don't like kale you can easily substitute spinach or arugula.

There are so many ways to adapt this recipe—imagine the possibilities. You could add:

  • Sun-dried tomatoes
  • Black or kalamata olives
  • Goat cheese
  • Basil pesto
  • Sauteed onions and mushrooms
  • Diced cooked ham
Skillet Dutch Baby Provençal

Skillet Dutch Baby Provençal

10. Skillet Dutch Baby Provençal

The creator of this skillet Dutch baby Provençal describes it this way:

"Big on chic French flavours, this meal in a skillet is a winning marriage of easy and impressive. A blended batter that’s packed with herbs and goat cheese gets puffed to perfection in the oven, and then topped with a punchy salad. A giant pancake for dinner? Yes please!"

I couldn't have said it better myself.


© 2021 Linda Lum