Melbourne food practice Long Prawn shares a ‘Dutch baby’ recipe from its new cookbook


How to create your very own Dutch baby.

Long Prawn is a Melbourne-based artistic food practice focused on sharing food knowledge and exploring edible ideas through food events. Long Prawn’s second self-published cookbook, Devils on Horseback, The Cookbook: A Global Etymology of Oddly Named Dishes is available online and at select bookstores now. Below is an exclusive recipe from the book, and you can find out more about Long Prawn here. 

A Dutch baby is a thick whole-pan pancake cooked within a hot oven, creating distinctive high-puffed edges. Although quite a unique finished product, the Dutch baby is often likened to a german pancake, a bismarck, or a large American popover

Close inspection of this baby’s birth certificate is required to have any complete understanding of this glorious pancake; that is, if we can call it that. Before we go full Border Patrol on this wee bb, let us dust the scene with icing sugar.  

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A Dutch baby starts off with a rich, egg-laden pancake batter poured generously into a hot, butter-coated skillet. After a few moments, the baby in its cast-iron bonnet is placed in a piping hot oven. In excitement, the batter, which leavens naturally, writhes and bubbles up the sides of the pan.

The eggy nature of the batter ensures a wide plane of sodden yet puffy cake in the centre, surrounded by a mountainous range of crisp and brown. Baby, now born, is then christened with walnuts of soft butter and a haze of fine sugar. To serve, tear or slice pieces before ageing sets in. Best consumed hot.

So how did the Dutch have their hand in this? First came their worldwide empire, then an armada of food trucks flipping those delicious, butter-laden poffertjes. How many infantilised sweet treats can these people possibly conquer? Well… simply put, the Dutch, as in bearing from the Netherlands, had nothing to do with it.

In the 17th and 18th centuries, there was a group of migrants to North America called the Pennsylvania Dutch, but they also had nothing to do with it. There is, however, an important cockup to be noted. The Pennsylvania Dutch were actually Germans who naturally referenced themselves through the endonym of Deutsch (in standard German).

This clue helpfully leads us to the German pancake, which is better known as Pfannkuchen – a word that begs to be said aloud. The German pancake, much like this little baby, has a good amount of egg, distancing it from its snobby French relative the crêpe, and even its patriotic, fluffy cousin, the American short stack. The other likeness is that the batter is poured to fill the base of a pan. Undeniable paternal similarities, one would think.  

Yet this baby is not entirely German and not at all Dutch. Births, deaths and marriages will have you know that this little baby was actually born in America. German and egg pancakes slid into parlance around the end of the 19th century. At this very time, two brothers, Angelo and Victor Manca, opened their doors to Manca’s Cafe in Seattle, Washington State.

This humble, family-run cafe operated with high esteem for several decades, laying claim to quite a few dishes, one of which was the Dutch baby. Manca family lore has it that one of Victor’s daughters was the first to bear claim to the naming rights. Perhaps a youthful mispronunciation rather than an ignorant misappropriation.

Either way, wisely and quickly, Manca’s Cafe secured the copyright for their version: a pan-sized ‘popover’, that glorious German pancake with a ruff of crispy batter, served with sugar and butter or, as an original menu suggests, with a side of bacon or sausage. While its origins may seem global and wide-spanning, through linguistic butchery and pairings of sweet and savoury, we think we are safe to say this baby is proudly American. 

Dutch baby for two

3 large eggs 

⅔ cup plain flour 

⅔ cup full cream milk 

¼ tsp pure vanilla extract 

¼ tsp cinnamon 

¼ tsp nutmeg 

Pinch of salt 

5 tbsp unsalted butter 

Powdered sugar (to serve) 

Bacon (optional) 

Preheat the oven to 230C and ensure all ingredients are at room temperature. Beat the eggs until frothy and light in colour. Sift the flour onto the egg mixture, then beat in milk, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Continue beating until the batter is smooth and thin.

Place an ovenproof skillet into the oven for 10 minutes. Remove and add three tbsp of the butter to the pan, distributing quickly across the bottom and sides. Add the batter and return the skillet to the oven.

If you wish to serve with bacon, place this into a hot pan on the stove now. Bake until baby is puffed and golden, about 20 minutes. Serve immediately from the pan with a liberal dusting of sugar and bombs of the remaining butter. 

You can find this and many more recipes in Devils on Horseback, The Cookbook: A Global Etymology of Oddly Named Dishes. You can purchase the cookbook on Long Prawn’s website and in good bookshops in Sydney and Melbourne. You can follow Long Prawn on Instagram here.

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