Watch how to cook the light and fluffy breakfast treat in a few simple steps
Sure, it was born in Europe, but the West adopted this baby almost a century ago. In the early 1900s, Victor Manca, owner of the Seattle restaurant Manca’s, put the German pfannkuchen (which translates to, literally, “pan cake”) on his menu. Instead of making one giant cake, though, he baked dainty little ones—hence, Dutch (as in “Deutsch,” for German) babies. Victor trademarked the name.
After Manca’s closed in the 1950s, the baby lived on in Sunset‘s pages: in versions scented with lemon peel and cardamom, or filled with salsa. But our most popular Dutch baby recipe, shown here, is the one that took the pancake back to its German roots—as a buttery breakfast zeppelin. We’ve published many versions over the years, but this one from 1977 is the simplest, and biggest thanks to a paella pan.
You can use just about any ovenproof pan to make a big Dutch baby. Just make sure it’s shallow—not more than 3 inches deep—to give the pancake maximum puff. A glass baking dish works well in a pinch. To measure the total volume of your pan, pour in quart measures of water. You can even make a Dutch baby in a cast iron dutch oven over a campfire.
The simple recipe here calls for butter, eggs, milk, and flour. We use a blender to incorporate all of the ingredients into a smooth batter before pouring it into the preheated pan and baking for 20-25 minutes.
Since it’s quick to prep, doesn’t need attention while cooking, and easy to scale up, a big Dutch baby is perfect for feeding a crowd. Just make sure everyone’s sitting down and ready to eat before you remove it from the oven since it deflates and cools quickly. Dust your pancake with powdered sugar, nutmeg, or cinnamon; or drizzle it with your favorite sweet syrup or fruit compote.