German pancakes are my ultimate desert island brunch. Meaning, if I were stuck on a desert island and could only have one brunch food for the rest of my life, this would be it. Actually, that sounds like a pretty awesome island, one I’d like to visit ASAP.
This is one of those recipes that came from somewhere… from a family friend or a dog-eared cookbook or a pack of sample recipes encouraging you to subscribe for more (only 12 easy payments of $42.99!) But whatever its origins, the recipe made its way onto an index card in my mom’s recipe binder and quickly became one of our most used and loved and vanilla-stained. I’ve tried other German pancake recipes over the years, and yet I keep coming back to this one, my tried and true, the recipe that’s so simple you’ll have it memorized in no time.
Of course, once you’ve memorized the classic version might I suggest expanding your horizons and trying out some tempting variations like chocolate pear, pumpkin spice, or apple (Not long ago I realized that while I’ve posted multiple variations on my favorite recipe over the years, I had never actually posted the classic. And for that oversight I am truly sorry. One bite and you’ll forgive me, I promise!)
In all the years I’ve been making this recipe, the only change I’ve made to the original is to prepare the batter in a blender, a trick I learned in my crepe-making experimentation that results in a perfectly smooth and easy-to-pour batter (and since you’re pouring the batter into a sizzling hot pan, that’s a game changer in my opinion).
The trick to more mountainous pancakes is to swirl as you pour, the places where the batter and the hot butter meet are where you’ll get those luxurious puffs. So as opposed to just pouring your batter right in the middle of the pan, pour it in a spiral or squiggle from the outside in to better let the batter intermingle with that glorious butter. Just pretend you’re making latte art or something.
If you’ve never had a German pancake (also called a Dutch baby pancake and not unlike a sweet Yorkshire pudding), think of it as falling somewhere in between a pancake and an omelet, with undertones of French toast. It’s eggier than your typical pancake, but sweeter and lighter than an omelet, with more pastry-like characteristics. The peaks turn golden and crispy, while the valleys collect streams of butter and maple syrup for a brunch-scape that’s truly perfection.
The fact that the ingredients are so simple means you’ll almost always have them on hand. Never again will brunch be ruined by a poorly-planned grocery list and sadly forgotten bacon or potatoes. All you need for this is milk, eggs, flour, and butter, with a pinch of salt and a splash of vanilla for good measure.
This recipe will yield one 13-by-9-inch baking pan full of buttery, brunchy goodness. It’s a generous 4 servings, although I’ve been known to consume almost half a pan all by myself. Or if you served it with potatoes or sausage or bacon, you could probably stretch it to 6 (though don’t be surprised when it disappears before your very eyes).
Now, about that brunch-filled island…
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 6 large eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- Combine milk, flour, eggs, vanilla, and salt in a blender and mix on low speed until smooth (you can also mix by hand with a whisk until mostly smooth, a few small lumps may remain but that’s ok).
- Spray a 13×9 inch baking pan with cooking spray. Position oven rack in bottom 1/3 of oven and preheat to 450 degrees F. When oven is almost preheated, place butter in prepared baking pan and place in oven until butter is hot and sizzling. Carefully pour the batter into the hot pan (one reason I love making the batter in the blender: easy pouring. Otherwise, it may be easier to remove the pan from the oven, pour in the batter, then put it back in the oven).
- Bake for 25 minutes, or until golden brown and fluffy.
- Slice and serve hot with maple syrup and powdered sugar.