A Dutch baby (also known as a German pancake) is an elegant breakfast or brunch dish you can make from basic pantry ingredients. It’s terrific because you can swap in whatever fruit you have on hand—fresh peaches or berries make delicious toppings, with just a dusting of powdered sugar. But for this one, I’ve used a single, unpeeled apple for rustic appeal, and created a sweet apple cider sauce that takes it way over the top, almost into dessert territory.
The basic German pancake recipe was graciously offered to me by the innkeeper at a Virginia bed and breakfast I visited many years ago. It uses the simplest of ingredients, but something almost magical happens in the oven, as the batter rises up and curves inward over the filling—almost like it’s giving a hug.
There are three components to this dish, and I’ve listed the ingredients for each separately along with the steps. You may want to read all the way through before you begin. Enjoy!
Tools you’ll need:
10 1/2 inch cast-iron skillet (and potholder)
2 medium mixing bowls
Small microwave safe bowl or measuring cup
Medium, heavy-bottomed sauce pan
Cutting board and knife
Flat wood utensil or wooden spoon
Ingredients – cider sauce:
2 cups apple cider
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 Tbsp. maple syrup (I love the dark amber, formerly known as “grade B”)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Pinch of sea salt (this simultaneously enhances and balances the sweetness of this decadent sauce)
In a heavy-bottomed sauce pan, combine all ingredients except vanilla and sea salt over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, stir and cook about 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until mixture is reduced by nearly half, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and sea salt. Set aside to cool. This may be made ahead and refrigerated for up to a week; warm before serving.
Ingredients – apple filling:
1 large, firm apple (Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, Gala or Fuji would be good), cored and sliced thin
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 Tbsp. brown sugar (light or dark)
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cardamom (or extra cinnamon)
Pinch sea salt
Preheat oven to 425° F. Heat cast-iron skillet over medium heat and melt butter. Add apple slices and sprinkle with brown sugar, cinnamon, cardamom and sea salt. Toss to coat, and stir frequently for about five minutes, until apples are evenly coated and beginning to soften. Remove from heat, empty apples into a bowl and wipe the skillet clean of any bits that might burn. Place skillet into preheated oven for about 10 minutes.
Ingredients – Dutch baby:
3 Tbsp. salted butter (for the batter)
1 cup all-purpose flour
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
1 cup whole or 2% milk
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter (for the skillet)
Melt 3 Tbsp. salted butter in a microwave safe bowl or glass measuring cup. Whisk together flour and cinnamon in a medium bowl. In another bowl, whisk eggs until uniform consistency. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture then add milk, eggs and melted butter. Whisk just until all flour is incorporated.
Carefully remove skillet from the oven and add 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, swirling around to coat the bottom and sides of the pan. Spoon the apples into the center of the pan. Give the egg mixture another quick whisk, then pour gently over the apples. Place the skillet back into the oven, reduce heat to 400° F and bake about 25 minutes, until edges are golden brown and center is set, but still a bit soft and “eggy.”
Remove from skillet, drizzle the warm cider sauce over the pancake and serve in wedges.
Can I make a Dutch baby without a cast-iron skillet?
Alternatively, you can use an oven-safe casserole dish and get great results. Butter and flour the inside of the dish before adding the batter. Because the casserole dish won’t be preheated like the skillet, it may take a bit longer. Bake at 400° F, and check for doneness after about 30 minutes.
Can I make individual Dutch baby pancakes?
Yes! If you have individual size cast-iron skillets, simply preheat them as instructed for the large skillet, and divide the melted butter and batter into them. Check for doneness after about 15 minutes. Or butter and flour individual glass casserole dishes and check them at 20 minutes. This recipe should work for about four of them.
Can I serve a Dutch baby for dessert?
I can’t think of a reason not to, especially if you make a decadent sauce! This apple dutch baby with cider sauce would be fantastic as it is for dessert; I’d probably even add an ounce of bourbon or brandy to the cider as it reduces (I’m spontaneous like that). It would also be great with cooked cherries rather than apples, and maybe a nice dark chocolate sauce. Or what about caramelized bananas with a caramel rum sauce…like Bananas Foster? Okay, now it’s just getting crazy in here.