What’s in a (pancake) name? German apple pancake or Dutch baby?

What’s in a (pancake) name? German apple pancake or Dutch baby?

by Anna Bagiackas
Stripes Europe

Have you ever considered just how many types of “pancakes” there are? Pancakes (American), crepes (French), "pannenkoeken" (Dutch), "pfannkuchen" (German), "aebleskiver" (Danish), blinis (Russian)—just to name a few. It truly had never occurred to me until I was trying to untangle the history of the German apple pancake ("Apfelpfannkuchen"), also known as the Dutch baby.

With its tall, puffed sides, a Dutch baby looks like a large popover and it has made a comeback in the past couple of years, becoming quite trendy with all sorts of sweet and savory variations being created. But what’s its story and why is it also called a German apple pancake? Here is the history lesson I pieced together.

The Dutch baby has German origins (one source claimed that it originated in the Black Forest), sometimes called a “Bismarck.” It is known for its eggy and custard-like batter that uses steam in the oven to give it its characteristic rise on the sides. It is sometimes compared to a Yorkshire pudding.

It is believed that in the early 1900s, the Seattle restaurant Manca’s Café was serving “Dutch babies,” in which the name “Dutch” was a misinformed pronunciation of the word “deutsch.” Oops. The Dutch baby isn’t Dutch at all.

Regardless of its history, it is delicious and deserves a spot on your weekend brunch menu this fall! This recipe includes a sweet, yet tangy brown sugar sour cream to spoon over your warm slice of apple and cinnamon goodness.

German Apple Pancake Recipe

Start to finish: 60 minutes

Servings: 4

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 cup brown sugar, divided

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt, divided

5 large eggs

1 cup whole milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 1/4 pounds Granny Smith apples

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Confectioners’ sugar

Adjust oven rack to the lowest position and heat oven to 425°F (218°C). Stir sour cream and 2 tablespoons brown sugar together in small bowl; set aside.

Whisk flour, 3/4 teaspoon salt and 2 tablespoons brown sugar together in large bowl. Whisk eggs, milk and vanilla together in separate bowl.

Prepare apples by peeling, halving, coring and slicing into 1/4-inch thick pieces.

Whisk half of egg mixture into flour mixture until it is smooth. Slowly whisk in remaining egg mixture until no lumps remain.

Melt butter in 12-inch oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat. (Cast iron is not recommended because the pancake will get too brown on the bottom.) Add apples, cinnamon, remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt to skillet. Cook, stirring frequently, until apples are softened, browned and glazed, 8 to 10 minutes.

Distribute apples evenly over bottom of skillet, scraping any off the sides. Working quickly, pour batter around and over apples. Immediately transfer skillet to oven and bake until edges of pancake are browned and have risen above skillet, about 18 minutes.

Transfer skillet to wire rack. The sides will deflate as it cools. Cut pancake into wedges in skillet and dust with confectioners’ sugar. Serve hot from skillet with sour cream mixture.

Delicious German Apple Pancake
Delicious Germany Apple Pancake

(This recipe was adapted from Cook’s Country magazine, August/September 2020 issue.)

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