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9 am Sunday: butter and babies

One night last week—after five glasses of wine, a deep-fried breaded soft-boiled egg, and a Freudian slip about a man who once fed me a meal consisting only of sprouts—my former employer Rebecca invited me to a breakfast of Dutch babies with her gay husband Jimmy. Knowing a good thing when I hear it, I accepted immediately. After all, I like nothing so much as a Dutch baby pancake, hot and puffy from the skillet, on a Sunday morning.

And so I arrived at Jimmy’s at nine o' clock to find an industrial steel table set for two, Jimmy in an apron, and Rebecca with wet hair and her usual morning iced tea, obligatory straw in place (she always uses a straw, no matter what she’s drinking; “I have five thousand straws,” she tells me, “All red!”).

Rebecca and Jimmy have known each other since the late ‘70s, when they lived in the same building in St. Petersburg, Florida. As Rebecca tells it, she knew that she had to meet Jimmy when she noticed his apartment window “displays” from the parking lot: mannequin parts from a department store, or a Perrier towel hung on the wall and lit from beneath. Their first official meeting was rather auspicious—Rebecca was wearing no pants, a story for another time—and today Jimmy, Rebecca, and Rebecca’s straight husband John all live in the same building here in Seattle, just seven floors apart. Jimmy is the baker; John is the cook; and Rebecca is the force of nature.

“Moll, you need two husbands,” Rebecca said solemnly this morning, stirring a small iceberg into her tea; “You can’t expect one person to be everything for you. I mean, really.” Jimmy listened silently, a strategy he’s wisely developed over the years. I nodded—she’s got a point—but frankly, I was distracted by the action in the kitchen. After all, the method for making a Dutch baby is only slightly less awe-inspiring that that for making a regular human one.

On the stove were two small Lodge cast-iron skillets, a hefty cube of butter in each.

Turning on the burners, Jimmy carefully melted the butter, brushing it up to coat the sides of the skillets, and then, working quickly and dexterously, he poured the batter—akin to that for a pancake, but with more eggs and less flour—into the melted butter.

He slid the skillets into the oven, and within moments, the magic began, the pancake rising like a bowl-shaped soufflé out of its foaming, sizzling pool of butter.

While the Dutch babies baked, Jimmy struggled unsuccessfully to keep Rebecca out of the bacon, and I, while copying down the recipe, made an exciting discovery: Jimmy had inadvertently doubled the quantity of butter called for—a very fitting accident, given that he has a well-documented penchant for increasing the fat in everything he touches, recipes and otherwise. This morning’s butter mishap meant that Rebecca and I—Jimmy can’t bear to eat before 11 am and thus would watch us enjoy his creations—would be eating half a stick of butter each.

But never mind the pithy details. When Jimmy pulled the two tall, golden, bedheaded puffs from the oven, sprinkled them with freshly squeezed lemon juice, and dusted them with powdered sugar,

Rebecca and I had no trouble putting away an entire baby each. They were delicious, eggy and light, their sweet richness countered by the tartness of lemon. And the excess butter in the skillets meant that the babies didn’t even need the usual finishing drizzle of clarified butter. Rebecca polished hers off in record time before returning to the bacon: one thing at a time, she advises, for maximum enjoyment. And I, being well-trained, left a very, very clean plate. After all, I'm determined to be invited back. I hear that shortbread waffles are next on the docket, and they apparently feature lots of butter.

Jimmy’s Dutch Baby Pancakes

Jimmy likes to make his babies in two 6-inch cast-iron skillets, but you can also make this recipe in a single 10- or 11-inch one.

For the pancakes:
4 Tbs unsalted butter (or, if you’d prefer to try it as we did with today’s happy butter accident, try using 6-8 tablespoons, and then do not add clarified butter when serving)
4 large eggs
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup half-and-half

For the topping:
4 oz clarified butter (or, if you’re not into clarifying, simple melted butter will do)
Juice of 1 lemon
Powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Divide the 4 Tbs butter between two 6-inch cast-iron skillets, and melt it over low heat.

In a blender, whir together the eggs, flour, and half-and-half.

Pour the batter into the skillets over the melted butter. Slide the skillets into the oven, and bake for 25 minutes.

Remove the puffed pancakes from the oven, transfer them to a plate or shallow bowl, and pour on clarified butter, sprinkle on lemon juice, and dust with powdered sugar. Serve immediately.

Serves two.


Blogger markisdead said...

It's so good to see butter being used so liberally! One is almost made to feel guilty for using it nowadays, but there really is no substitute, and it's more important to eat a balanced diet (inc. butter) than one which has virtually no saturated fats and that is out of balance, in my opinion.

I was interested to see Jimmy using electricity to cook with. It's common here (UK) because of the higher voltage/wattage/whatever, but I had thought that most people in the US used gas. Is that right? What do you use/prefer?

6:46 PM, February 27, 2005  
Blogger amylou said...

Oh my, the award for best sounding breakfast definitely goes to million butter baby (sorry, I just read the Oscar recap).

Unfortunately, my cast-iron skillet has a wooden handle (dang it all!), meaning it can't handle the oven. Can a butter baby be made any other way?

11:19 PM, February 27, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


my family does a swedish rendition- always in glass pie pans, so don't worry, there's no reason your wooden handle should get in between you and a dutch baby! it's a similar recipe and process- preheat the oven, slide the glass pan with your chunk of butter in, and once it's melted and browned a little, pour in the batter. your batter should be room temp, to avoid shattering the glass! as could be expected, we usually top with raspberries or strawberries, maple syrup, and generous dollops of whipped cream...

8:47 AM, February 28, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't worry if you don't have a cast iron skillet- my mom always does these in glass pie pans. Heat them in the preheating oven just until the butter melts. But be careful- if the pans are super hot and the batter is too cold, the glass can crack. Best if the ingredients are room-temperature.

9:31 AM, February 28, 2005  
Blogger amylou said...

Thanks for the tips!

12:34 PM, February 28, 2005  
Blogger Molly said...

Yes, Mark, hallelujah (sp?) for butter! No need for guilt. I do have to say, though, that half a stick is a *bit* more than I generally would use for breakfast...but it was fantastically(!) delicious, and actually, I would have never known that it was technically too much for the recipe.

And as for electric vs. gas ranges, I actually think that electric is more common in the U.S. [Anyone is welcome to chime in and argue otherwise, however. I'm no authority on this stuff.] Gas stoves tend to be more high-end, so the average apartment or house usually comes with a plain electric-coil stove. Works fine, but it's harder to control the heat. For that reason, I prefer gas, but I'm stuck with a very basic electric range for now. Jimmy, on the other hand, has the cream of electric ranges; those sleek-looking ones seem to have much more sensitive heat calibration and are more responsive. Those are nice too.

And Amy dear, I see that Kate and a very generous anonymous commenter have beat me to the punch. Get out your glass pie plate and make a baby.

Kate, ma biche, thank you for helping Amy. And what a great coincidence that your family calls it a "Swedish pancake"; did you know that Amy is in Sweden? You're a genius, obviously. I must admit, though, that for as much as I like berries (and CREAM!), I am a fan of the lemon-sugar baby. Simple, clean, sweet-tart.

And Anonymous, thanks for your help!

12:35 PM, February 28, 2005  
Anonymous keiko said...

Hi Molly - this pancake looks so delicious! Your site is lovely with lots of beautiful pictures.

5:03 AM, March 01, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hard to gauge what was more interesting, breakfast with Rebecca or watching Jimmy cook - I'm jealous! And I didn't know Jimmy gave out recipes. Molly, if you can get the recipe for those fabulous toffee-chocolate bars that he made for Rebecca's Anniversary Party, I'd love you forever. They top his brownies, and I'm still dreaming of their dense lusciousness.


12:00 PM, March 01, 2005  
Blogger Molly said...

LAA, I had no idea that was you! Here you've been commenting all this time, and I've been completely out to lunch. Haven't seen you on the mat in ages, my dear!

At any rate, yes, breakfast with Rebecca and Jimmy was a riot, as you can imagine. I will see what I can do to get you that toffee-chocolate bar recipe, although I make no guarantees. Perhaps a little flattery will loosen him up...

12:41 PM, March 01, 2005  
Blogger Molly said...

Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting, keiko! The photos on your site are absolutely beautiful, by the way.

12:50 PM, March 01, 2005  
Blogger Pusekatt said...

Hehe...I thought you had a cannibalistic streak when I first read the bit about 'Dutch babies' but to my great relief you were referring to pancakes! :-) They sound delicious and i must give them a go - I think anything that has sugar dusting must be yummy!

3:26 PM, March 01, 2005  
Blogger Lushlife said...

Hi Molly, I found you via Kitschenette and I love your site and the great perspective of your food photography it puts me to shame having just paid my food blog some oblogatory attention after neglecting it for way too long. You have renewed my interest though having had something of a slump for the last couple of weeks. I hope you don't mind my linking you in the future.

3:05 AM, March 02, 2005  
Blogger Molly said...

No cannibals here, Pusekatt, but I do like to keep you on your toes. Give the babies a try!

And Lushlife, thanks for your comment! I would be honored to have you link to me, of course, and I look forward to checking out your blog...

7:41 AM, March 02, 2005  
Blogger TanTian said...

My dad always calls bread "a vehicle for butter". I'll have to pass on this recipe. Sadly, my vegan self will have to go buttered baby-less.

6:42 AM, March 03, 2005  
Blogger Molly said...

TanTian, I hope you'll whip up some vegan pancakes instead. They might not be buttered babies, but the spirit is the same, yes?

4:47 PM, March 03, 2005  
Anonymous pam said...


I just discovered your blog, and immediately subscribed to it. I can practically taste these babies and all that wonderful butter. I can't wait to try making these.


6:07 AM, March 05, 2005  
Blogger tara said...

It was just recently that I stumbled upon your website (from a link at ultra tart), and I've been in food raptures ever since! After a week of reading your archives, it was this Dutch Baby recipe that made me declare "I must make that!"
Long story short, I sit here before my computer, with a belly full of eggy goodness. There is a full pot of coffee made, the Saturday paper has arrived, and life could not be sweeter. My boyfriend and I thank you for a lovely start to our weekend!
p.s. For anyone who checks my blogger link - we've been terrible and done NOTHING! Hopefully that will change soon.

6:29 AM, March 05, 2005  
Blogger Molly said...

Pam, that's so good to hear! Thank you!

And Tara, I'm thrilled to know that Dutch babies played a part in your lovely Saturday morning! Sounds wonderful...

8:09 AM, March 05, 2005  
Anonymous texas said...

I just found this link from "not martha." Wow! My mom makes these for us on weekends when the whole family is in town and we call them, popcakes. Same method of creation!

6:43 AM, March 20, 2005  
Blogger Molly said...

Texas, thanks for coming to visit! "Popcakes" is definitely a good way to describe these...

9:48 AM, March 20, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I found this post through a link on 'not martha' as well, and have been checking back religiously since. Love your writing style and your recipes, they complement each other well. The Dutch Baby is a hit in our house, well on its way to being a weekend staple!

5:05 PM, May 17, 2005  
Blogger Molly said...

Thank you, Anonymous! I'm so happy to hear about all these Dutch babies popping up everywhere! Jimmy will be so proud.

10:17 PM, May 17, 2005  
Blogger Shawn said...

Guess who came for breakfast! AND made Dutch Birthday Babies! You guessed it ~ none other than that butter touting, sugar coating, baby baking buddy of mine ... Jimmy!

Jimmy and I have been friends for over 30 years and having been the guy that got him his first professional baking gig about 25 years ago ~ I have been privileged to have been sampling his incredible baked goods ever since.

Here I sit, butter still dripping from my sugar coated, smiling lips and couldn't be happier that James (my husband and birthday boy) after reading your blog, (fabulous) knowing Jimmy and seeing the images ~ requested these Dutch Babies (ours was more like Big Dutch Mama) for his birthday breakfast. So, complete with thick cut maple bacon and a perfect french roast ~ Jimmy set to our kitchen to fulfill his request ... OUTSTANDING!

It made our mandatory evacuation of Key West and our annual weekend due to Hurricane Dennis almost worth it! If he didn't know better I would be tempted to fake a birthday myself (something I can't really afford to do) before he leaves just to get him to make the Triple Chocolate Scones.

Another trip ~ another birthday ~ hopefully not another hurricane.

Shawn (and James)

1:57 PM, July 10, 2005  
Blogger Molly said...

Shawn, it's so nice to meet you! I'm incredibly jealous of that breakfast of yours, although I've certainly had the pleasure of putting away plenty of Jimmy's babies myself. I suppose we Seattlites do have to share him every now and then. But more importantly, I hope you were able to finish the last of the butter and bacon before the evacuation. If you're running short on time (and lacking a kitchen?) maybe Jimmy could ship you some scones from Seattle?

10:31 PM, July 11, 2005  
Blogger Su-Lin said...

Thank you, Molly, and thank you, Jimmy! I used a 10-inch frying pan for this recipe and found a huge Dutch baby pancake taking over my oven - I had to take it out halfway to let it collapse but it continued to grow! Oh, but what a lovely brunch it made yesterday alongside bacon and strawberries!

6:28 AM, July 25, 2005  
Blogger Molly said...

Su-Lin, that sounds pretty terrifying--but very tasty! So glad to hear that the baby was a success, even if it threatened to take over your kitchen...

11:38 AM, July 25, 2005  
Blogger kickpleat said...

I've been drooling over this recipe for months now and this morning I finally had the courage (and cast iron pan) to make this beast. Thanks for posting this recipe. I've posted this recipe in my own blog and linked it back to yours (if that's okay!)

Have I mentioned how much I love your blog?? Well, I think I just did. Thanks.

11:26 AM, August 21, 2005  
Blogger Molly said...

Kickpleat, that's more than okay. I'm thrilled to know that you gave the babies a go--and that you liked them enough to write about them! [Although, really, who doesn't like babies?]

Wonderful. Thank you.

12:49 PM, August 22, 2005  
Blogger pomegranate said...

Oh, Molly! I'm showing up in a butter stupor. I made these for my husband and I some time ago and the results just weren't fantastic. It was tasty..but I did something wrong.

Today I decided to skip my philosophy class and stay home to be productive here.. (haha) I halved this recipe and made myself a dutch baby in a cast iron skillet and it was P E R F E C T! I come back to your recipes again and again...mostly to enjoy the way they sound or wallow in your adjectives. This one I made and it was a total success.

6:11 AM, September 16, 2005  
Blogger Molly said...

Pomegranate, there is no better excuse for skipping class than Dutch babies! So glad to hear of your buttery success, m'dear.

10:22 AM, September 18, 2005  
Anonymous cnlbell said...

I have to double the recipe in my house or there is threat of a violent take-over of my kitchen. I also add a 2 Tblsp vanilla and 1/4 C. simple syrup. I bake it in a medium souffle dish so it has a thick center and tall flaky crispy sides. YUM! Its our saturday morning ritual.

11:32 AM, October 31, 2005  
Anonymous cnlbell said...

Oops! I meant Golden Syrup not simple syrup! heh. ^^

11:33 AM, October 31, 2005  
Blogger Molly said...

I'm not at all surprised, cnlbell, to hear of kitchen violence when it comes to Dutch babies--and I mean that in the best way, of course! They're terrifyingly delicious, really.

10:19 PM, October 31, 2005  
Anonymous GoobernGrape said...

i was practicing making genoise last weekend and the recipe called for separated eggs. there were more than enough unsuccessful attempts at cracking and the occasional yolk-in-whites to make my first Dutch baby.
boy howdy, it was good!
one batch in the iron skillet was flat (normal) while another in a large ramekin was poofy like the queer lovechild of a souffle and a popover.
meyer lemon,
superfine vanilla sugar,
pinch salt.
and clarified brown butter left over from the genoise. delicious.
thanks for the intro to these beautiful babies!

7:20 PM, May 24, 2006  
Blogger Molly said...

GoobernGrape, now that is a prime example of how to turn lemons into lemonade, as they say! And with brown butter? I think you've one-upped even Jimmy, my friend. Beautiful!

4:19 PM, May 25, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lovely pancakes you made, makes me feel hungry looking at the pic, but pardon me may i know what is half and half?

8:06 AM, July 04, 2006  
Blogger Molly said...

Anonymous, half-and-half is a dairy product that is, quite simply, a mixture of equal parts milk and cream. In the States, you can buy it labeled as such, but if your store doesn't sell it, you can make it at home. Hope that helps!

4:33 PM, July 04, 2006  
Blogger miss lila said...

I'm a bit late to the party, but I just had to pop in and echo the sentiments of everyone else. Oh baby, indeed! In an attempt to have some healthy with my baby, I made mine with King Arthur whole-wheat flour, slightly less butter and organic whole milk (and a liberal dose of cinnamon). In a 9" cast iron pan it baked up brown and crackle-topped and had a wonderful nutty flavor; topped with powdered sugar and slathered with homemade blueberry preserves, it was most definitely the best breakfast I've had in years! (no, I didn't eat the whole thing myself - but the fiance almost did!) Mmmmmmmm, babies.

10:07 AM, January 26, 2007  
Blogger Nanananabubu said...

I make the babies for dessert. Saute fresh fruit such as a winey apple variety, banana or a tropical mix. As the baby comes out of the oven, top with the piping hot fruit, splash with rum and light. Serve with lemon on the side. They will think you are a domestic goddess.

7:17 PM, February 02, 2007  
Anonymous Anita said...

I only found your amazing blog this summer, but I lost no time in reading the whole thing! I've been eyeing this for a couple of months and when my parter received her grandmother's 6" iron skillet, I had no reason to wait longer, since I finally had 2 of them. Even though the butter overflowed my skillets and made my oven quite messey, these were DIVINE. We'll be having them often in the future.

7:47 AM, March 01, 2007  
Anonymous Frederick said...

Waking up thinking about Dutch Babies and my daugther in law having moved to Wash. State ...ahh the wonders of the internet and here i am...Dutch is made and yumm,.,.cut it in half for two added some southern fried apples(semi-tart sliced apples,cinnamon,nutmeg
brown sugar to taste oh and alitte butter fry in a non stick til crispy and carmelized serve over dutch..One other thing i warmed up the milk and eggs,makes for better rising..frederick

10:46 AM, March 10, 2007  
Anonymous CreditCook said...

I have just discobered your blog and I think it's amazing. Especially this receipe. Can't wait to try it.

12:51 AM, July 18, 2007  
Blogger iamchanelle said...

this post just revolutionized my breakfasts.

many yummy thanks to jimmy and you! :)

8:10 AM, November 19, 2007  
Blogger Lisa said...

Molly, I don't believe I ever told you how often we eat these. Not long after the fella and I met, I made them for the first time, and they quick became our Monday (our day kinda-off) morning ritual. After about two months of this I needed a little detox - now we have them slightly less often - but there they are in the oven again as I type, rising in that ugly-beautiful way of theirs, making me giddy - and these the first with our own eggs! Yum yum yum.

5:32 AM, April 28, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can this be made in ceramic ramekins to make make smaller individual ones for presentation purposes?

3:21 PM, June 07, 2008  
Blogger Molly said...

Anonymous, I haven't tried it, but it should work. You'll want to warm the ramekins in the oven - with the butter in them - before pouring in the batter.

Good luck!

3:58 PM, June 07, 2008  
Blogger Lotuspixie said...

thank you for posting this recipe--so easy. and yet...

the vegan version of this that I tried to make this morning was an utter failure. I guess it just needs real eggs, as obviously the Ener-G egg replacer just didn't cut it. or just that the soymilk-egg replacer-margarine combination just doesn't work for this.

I ended up with flat, crispy, crunchy, extremely buttery pancakes.

on the bright side, if I ever need a recipe for oven-fried crackers, this would work well :)

8:25 AM, October 18, 2008  
Anonymous Amber said...

Hi, I just glanced about in your comments.(I was searching for a Vegan version to add to my recipe catch - google kept bringing me to this link)

Anyway I wanted to add a few tips since there were some questions on what pans can be used etc.

Most formulas for Dutch Babies can be done in individual portions, in ramekins - just be sure to divide the butter equally between your ramekins - you can use (2) 16 oz ramekins, or even 6 smaller (3-5 oz) ramekins (spaced on a cookie sheet).

And the pan is important - mainly the sides - if you use a heavy cast iron pot with deep sides - the dutch baby tends to be overall flatter (thicker) and doesn't have that beautiful petal effect that happens with the sides. Any kind of heavy skillet - whether you use cast iron , or even good triple ply stainless pans, will work. Main thing is that they're oven safe.

Just remember to have the pan warm (I like to put mine in the oven while pre-heating) when you apply the batter - this helps the babies get a proper start.

Plus these are not limited to sweet toppings - omit the sugar, increase by one egg & 3/4 cup flour, 1/2 cup liquid, plus add 1/2 to 1 tsp salt to create a savory baby (( try adding fresh herbs to the batter or Parmesan or prosciutto)) the skies the limit....yummy!

11:57 AM, December 28, 2008  
Anonymous Bev Barnett said...

I love that blogs stay alive for so long ... I wanted to make a Big Dutch Baby today and couldn't find my recipe book so I did a search and found you... thanks ... and what a fun story too!

12:10 PM, December 12, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And one more thing---no matter what kind of pan you use, the babies will rise better and faster if you start with batter that is at room temperature....warming the milk or half & half before beating in the eggs and flour will do it..... This is such a great recipe....it appeared years ago in the New York Times as a David Erie pancake, and was recently re-visited in their Sunday magazine section.....

11:47 PM, February 03, 2011  
Anonymous leslie said...

These dutch babies are sooooooooo good. I made them this morning. I sadly didn't have any half and half, and didn't feel like running out for some, so I used 2% milk. They were still fantastic. I used lots of Meyer lemon juice, since I bought a huge box of them at Costco, and am trying to find ways to use them up. It was perfect. I'm thinking about making them for lunch and dinner. Is that obsessive?

Molly, will you post a Meyer lemon recipe or two? I have to find some creative ways to use up my Meyer lemons. So far I've only made a lemon-cream pasta sauce (very good) and salad dressing (wonderful). I'm needing a few more ideas.

11:23 AM, February 13, 2011  
Blogger thatgirl said...

This sounds absolutely fantastic. I love your site. A new favorite!

10:37 PM, October 26, 2011  
Anonymous Merry said...

Yum! My husband and I shared this for breakfast yesterday and it was delicious. Like others, I had no half and half, so did a sub of 1/4 cup skim milk and 1/4 cup whipping cream - the "baby" was just perfect!

7:18 AM, November 21, 2011  
Anonymous Alyssa said...

Just made this as a post hurricane breakfast here in Brooklyn. This time the butter in the cast iron skillet started to brown before I poured in the batter, and it made it even more delicious!

8:37 AM, October 30, 2012  
Anonymous clepro said...

Almost exactly like the pannukakku I've been making every Christmas since finding the recipe in the Finnish chapter of The Minnesota Heritage Cookbook. I thought I made up the lemon squeeze all on my own though.

Sometime if you can bear to pass up the confectioners sugar, try it with this: squeeze the lemon over, then top with a few spoonfuls of lingonberries and a generous drizzle (NOT a contradiction) of maple syrup.

11:33 PM, June 09, 2014  

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