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Campfire Cooking: Dutch Baby Pancakes

  • 8/17/2016 3:29:00 PM
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From the September/October 2016 issue of Iowa Outdoors magazine
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While the name may be misleading, the Dutch baby pancake is actually an Americanized knockoff of a traditional German breakfast treat called pfannkuchen.

Legend has it Dutch baby pancakes were first introduced and coined in America at a family-run restaurant in Seattle, where one of the owner’s daughters struggled with the proper pronunciation of Deutsch. Others label this treat the David Eyre pancake, whose recipe appeared in the New York Times in 1966. Similarly, The Dutch baby apple pancake is an American version of apfelpfannkuchen, another German spinoff of pfannkuchen. 

The ingredients for Dutch baby pancakes are essentially the same—milk, eggs, flour, sugar—and in the case of Dutch baby apple pancakes, that familiar fall fruit. But that’s where the recipe similarities end. Some, like the recipe below, call for more eggs, which gives it a more custard texture. Some add more flour for a more traditional pancake. Higher sugar content recipes produce a more dessert-like feel to the dish.

Traditionally, Dutch babies were finished with powdered sugar and lemon juice. Others added cinnamon sugar at the end. Syrup was also a favorite. And don’t be afraid to swap apples with fresh-picked wild or backyard fruit. 

German apple pancake, Dutch baby, David Eyre pancake, apfelpfannkuchen, pfannkuchen, apples, no apples, raspberries instead—it doesn’t matter. This sweet, hearty breakfast will please young and old alike. And just by chance, if you have a tiny slice left over at the end of the day, a scoop of ice cream alongside, a dollop of whipped cream or a drizzle of chocolate makes a mighty fine dessert. 

2 large apples
4 tablespoons sugar, divided
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup unsalted butter
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
¾ cup all purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup milk
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
5 eggs
Powdered or cinnamon sugar to garnish

This recipe works well in a regular oven or a Dutch oven. If using an oven, preheat to 400°F. If using a Dutch oven, light about 40 charcoals and burn until ashen. Preheat Dutch oven, placing eight to 10 coals underneath. 

Peel, core, quarter and slice apples into medium slices, no thicker than ¼-inch thick. You should have at least 3 cups of apples. In a small bowl, mix 3 tablespoons sugar with the cinnamon and set aside. Cut butter into chunks and place in a deep cast iron skillet, Dutch oven or 8-by-8-inch baking dish.

Sprinkle brown sugar over melted butter. Spread apples on top of brown sugar and sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar mixture. In medium size bowl, whisk flour, remaining sugar, salt and nutmeg. Gradually add milk, whisking constantly to dissolve lumps. When incorporated, whisk in vanilla and eggs, one at a time. Beat for two minutes, or until foamy. Let batter rest five minutes. Once apples and sugar are caramelized, pour batter over apples. If using a Dutch oven, cover and place 12 to 14 coals on lid. Bake for 20 minutes or until center is set and sides are lightly browned. The pancake will puff up dramatically but fall after a few minutes as it cools. Serve with powdered sugar or additional cinnamon sugar. 

For more great ideas, check out our Outdoor and Wild Recipes, Dutch Oven Recipes, Iowa Outdoors Magazine and Iowa Camping boards on Pinterest.

Dutch baby pancake recipe - perfect for the campsite | Iowa Outdoors magazine