Among the very first things I ever cooked on my own, and, most certainly, the first recipe I ever memorized was the dutch baby, or oven pancake. It is, in turn, among the first things I’ve taught my kids to make. It is a big puffy custard or sorts and is seriously easy to make while still looking rather impressive.
We eat oven pancake as a weekend breakfast, but, more often, as a last-ditch supper. I am not going to offer up a traditional recipe as I think it’s more helpful to think of it as a formula. For every egg, add 1/4 cup milk (we always use whole though I think lowfat or skim would work) and 1/4 cup flour. One egg per person for light eaters (more for a hungrier crowd).
Growing up, my mom would make large dutch babies in a giant paella pan. The center would bubble up and brown and the sides would grow and curl impressively. My pancakes never live up to the remembered drama of hers. I always use my 10 inch cast iron skillet for a 4-6 egg pancake, and smaller skillets for smaller portions.
Start by turning your oven to 400 degrees. Put some butter in your skillet. A few tablespoons for a big skillet, less for individual portions. Depends on how decadent you’re feeling. Pop the skillet in the oven while it heats up. Blend the eggs, milk and flour until thick and creamy. You can use a blender or whisk by hand. When your oven and skillet are hot and the butter has melted, pour the batter into the skillet and pop it back into the oven.
Cook for 20-25 minutes or until slightly browned and puffed. My mother always told me not to open the door while it was cooking or I’d ruin it, so I don’t. Time it so everyone is seated at the table and ready to ‘ooh and aah’ at your risen pancake when you take it out of the oven as it will deflate a bit as it sits.
Squeeze with lemon and dust with powdered sugar. Serve with fresh fruit, jam or maple syrup.