Sometimes foods kind of evolve on their own from one form to another over time, and one could say that is the case for what I am going to call eggy-batter breads.
These are a specific family of breads that have a few things in common: Lots of eggs and no leaveners. In addition, for these “breads” to work, you have to start with a piping hot pan before you pour in the batter.
I'll never understand the English obsession with calling everything a "pudding." Sometimes it's sausage; sometimes it is a dessert; in this case it's bread. The true origin is unknown, but the first documented recipe comes from “The Whole Duty of a Woman,” a 1737 recipe book that recorded a recipe for “a dripping pudding."
The recipe read: "Make a good batter as for pancakes, put it in a hot toss-pan over the fire with a bit of butter to fry the bottom a little, then put the pan and batter under a shoulder of mutton instead of a dripping pan, frequently shaking it by the handle and it will be light and savory, and fit to take up when your mutton is enough; then turn it in a dish, and serve it hot."
It later appeared in the 1747 “The Art of Cookery, Made Plain and Easy” by Hannah Glasse, where she first called it Yorkshire pudding. This is the book that put Yorkshire pudding on the map.
Traditionally, it was used to sop up the juices left on your plate from roasted meat, and it was baked in a large pan, not single-serving pan sizes.
The first popover recipe comes from Mary F. Henderson's “Practical Cooking and Dinner Giving” of 1876, though they were named in 1850 in a letter by E.E. Stuart, according to the Oxford English Dictionary. One of the notable differences is that the need for drippings from a skewered roast was eliminated.
Often, butter replaces those drippings and popovers are eaten as a side, served with sweet spreads like honey butter. In addition, some say this was simply the Americanization of Yorkshire pudding, where the batter was cooked in small muffin type tins for individual servings.
Dutch baby pancake
So, when Yorkshire pudding became less savory and was moved into individual baking pans, it became the popover. But when the popover moves back to a large pan and becomes even sweeter, it becomes a Dutch baby pancake. It is treated almost as its own dish as a pancake would be, rather than like a dinner roll as a pudding or popover would be.
To me it looks like a cross between pie and a pancake.
Dutch baby pancakes started at a family-run restaurant in Seattle called Manca's Cafe in the 1900s. The restaurant claimed the trademark for the dish in 1942. The dish was derived from a German pancake dish, pfannkuchen. The name came from a mispronunciation of the word “Deutsch." Owner Victor Manca's daughter could not pronounce the word, and instead said Dutch.
Adapted from Hannah Glasse's recipe
- 1 quart milk
- 4 eggs
- Pinch salt
- 4 cups flour plus more as needed
- 1 cup drippings from a roast, approximately
Mix all ingredients except the drippings into a batter like pancake batter. In either a cast iron pan (for one large pudding) or muffin tins, pour a thin puddle (maybe ¼-inch thick) of drippings. Bake this pan or tins in the oven at 400 degrees for about five minutes without batter. Once heated, quickly add enough batter to bring the pan or tins to half-full and return to the oven for approximately 20 minutes.
To make this truly authentic, bake these under a roast on a wire shelf so that drippings can continue to flavor the pudding. After 20 minutes, remove the puddings from the pan or tins and return to the oven on a baking sheet to dry out for a few more minutes. These should be ready when golden.
Adapted from Mary F. Henderson's recipe
- 2 cups milk
- 2 cups flour
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ cup butter (softened)
- ¼ cup honey
Combine the honey and butter in a mixer. Whip them together until soft and fluffy and reserve.
Beat the eggs separately and well before adding the remaining ingredients and beating thoroughly.
Grease a muffin pan (or popover pans if you have them; custard cups also work) and bake them, empty, in the oven at 400 degrees for five minutes.
Fill the cups or the heated pans half full with batter and bake about 35 minutes. Serve with whipped honey butter or jelly.
Dutch baby pancake
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 eggs
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup milk (warm)
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- Pinch salt
- Confectioner's sugar for dusting
- Pie filling (optional, apple is most traditional)
Rub butter all over in a skillet (cast iron, preferably) with a lip that is 3 inches or less tall. Bake this skillet at 400 degrees for 5 minutes or until your batter is ready.
In a blender, combine the eggs, flour, warm milk, sugar, vanilla and a pinch of salt until smooth. Once the batter is ready, swirl the butter in the pan and then pour the remaining butter into your batter while blending. Pour the batter into the pan while it is still hot and cook until the pancake is puffed in the center and golden brown along the edges, approximately 20-25 minutes.
Use a spatula to remove the whole Dutch baby from the pan and allow it to cool on a cooling rack. Top with pie filling and dust with confectioner's sugar before slicing into pie size slices and serving immediately.