How to make your own Dutch baby.
long shrimp is a Melbourne-based art food practice focused on sharing nutritional knowledge and exploring edible ideas through food events. The second Long Prawn cookbook, Demons on Horseback, The Cookbook: A Global Origin Science of Dishes with Strange Names Now available online and in select bookstores. Below is an exclusive recipe from the book, and you can learn more about Long Prawn here.
The Dutch baby is a thick, full-size pancake that is cooked in a hot oven, creating distinct, highly puffed edges. Although a unique end product, the Dutch baby is often likened to a German pancake, Bismarck or a big American bobover.
A careful examination of this child’s birth certificate is required to gain any complete understanding of this glorious pie; That is, if we can call it that. Before we go full on Border Patrol this week, let’s dip the scene in icing sugar.
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The Dutch kid starts with an egg-rich pancake batter generously poured into a hot, buttered skillet. After a few moments, the baby with his cast iron hood is placed in a tubed-heated oven. In agitation, the mixture, which ferments naturally, twists and disperses over the sides of the pan.
The oval nature of the mixture ensures that there is a wide level of whipped cream cake in the center, surrounded by a mountain range of crisp and brown. The baby, now born, is then baptized with a nut of soft butter and a mist of fine sugar. To serve, shred or chop the pieces before they get old. It is best eaten hot.
So how did the Dutch have their hand in this? First came their worldwide empire, then a fleet of food trucks flipped over that delicious, butter-filled dessert. How many baby candy can these people beat? Well … simply put, the Dutch, as in the Netherlands, have nothing to do with it.
In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, there was a group of immigrants to North America called the Pennsylvania Dutch, but they had nothing to do with them. However, there is an important group to note. The Pennsylvanian Dutch were actually Germans who referred to themselves naturally by the local name of Deutsch (in Standard German).
This guide helpfully leads us to German pancake, which is known as Pfannkuchen – a word that requires being said out loud. A German pancake, like this little kid, has a good amount of eggs, which sets it apart from its snooty French crêpe cousin, and even its fluffy patriotic cousin, the American short stack. Another similarity is that the mixture is poured to fill the base of the pan. One would think that the parental similarities are undeniable.
However, this kid is not entirely German and not at all Dutch. Births, deaths and marriages will let you know that this little boy was actually born in America. German pancakes and eggs slipped into the language at the end of the 19th century. At this very time, two brothers, Angelo and Victor Manca, opened their doors at Café Manca in Seattle, Washington.
This unassuming, family-run café has been operating in great respect for several decades, claiming to have quite a few dishes, one of which was Dutch Baby. Manca family tradition says that one of Victor’s daughters was the first to claim naming rights. Perhaps a youthful mistake rather than an ignorant embezzlement.
Either way, wisely and swiftly, Café Manca secured the copyright to their copy: an oversized pancake, that great German pancake with crunchy dough, served with sugar and butter or, as the original menu suggests, with a side of bacon or sausage. While its origins may seem universal and wide-ranging, through linguistic butchery and pairings of sweet and savory, we think we’re safe to say this kid is proudly American.
Dutch baby for two
3 large eggs
regular cup of flour
Half a cup of whole milk
Half a teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
Half a teaspoon of cinnamon powder
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
a pinch of salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
powdered sugar (for serving)
Preheat the oven to 230°C and make sure all ingredients are at room temperature. Beat eggs until foamy and light in colour. Sift the flour into the egg mixture, then whisk in the milk, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Keep beating until the mixture is smooth and fluffy.
Put a frying pan in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove and add three tablespoons of butter to the skillet and quickly spread over the bottom and sides. Add the mixture and return the skillet to the oven.
If you want to serve it with bacon, put it in a hot skillet on the stove now. Bake until baby is puffed and golden, about 20 minutes. Serve immediately from skillet sprinkled with sugar and remaining butter bombs.
You can find this and many more recipes in Demons on Horseback, The Cookbook: A Global Origin Science of Dishes with Strange Names. You can buy the cookbook on the Long Prawn website and in good bookstores in Sydney and Melbourne. You can follow Long Prawn on Instagram here.