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Making German Pancakes
My Family's Traditional German Pancake
There are a variety of recipes in the world which carry the name "German Pancake." What you will read about here is the variation that I grew up with and which I continue to love and have worked to perfect.
This is a one or two person serving, made in a 9"-10" dish, most often a pie plate. The main ingredients are just milk, eggs and flour. If you have kids, they will love watching the edges puff up through the oven door as they bake.
This was a family favorite on weekends when my mother made them when I was growing up. In college this became the popular "morning after" breakfast made for friends who'd stayed over and spent the night when my roommate and I had parties. Now one of my favorite incarnations is cooking it for friends when I am traveling and stay at other people's homes. It's quite a delicious thank-you for hosts!
How Did You Like This Recipe?
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 C whole milk, you can also use raw milk or half and half. Lowfat milk will decrease rise somewhat but works too.
- 1/2 C high-gluten flour, multi-purpose flour works too
- 2 Tbsp butter
- ground nutmeg, just a sprinkle
- lemon juice
- powdered sugar, in a sifter
German Pancake Instructions
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- Mix eggs and milk until frothy.
- Blend in flour until lumps are almost gone. Sprinkle in nutmeg to taste and blend lightly.
- When oven comes to heat, put butter into pie plate and place in oven to melt/heat butter. A metal deep-dish pie plate produces the most dramatic crusts. You want the butter to be crackling hot but not browned.
- When butter is ready (melted completely and just starting to brown), quickly remove pan from oven and pour in batter. Return to oven to bake for 15-20 minutes.
- Edges should rise as pancake cooks. When edges are browned and center is firm and dry it is done. (18-20 minutes)
- Remove from cooking pan and put onto a large plate. Sprinkle with lemon juice, dust to taste with powdered sugar. Serve whole or sliced like a pizza.
Pie Plates for Baking
In my experience, this is THE primo pie plate to use. The metal allows for a very even and high temperature which helps gives the best loft to the pancake by getting those edges cooking as soon as you pour in the batter.
What Dish To Use For Baking
For close to forty years, my mom baked these in glass pie plates. When I was in college, I was gifted a set of ceramic baking pans that had nice smooth rises to the edges, and the largest of these became my dedicated German Pancake baking dish.
But then, in the summer of 2009 when I made one at a friend's house using a steel pie plate, it literally took the pancake to a whole new level! My jaw dropped when I pulled the pancake out of the oven. And when I got home, a German Pancake bake-off was conducted and the results are undeniable: you get a much more dramatic and consistent edge rise with the higher heat that steel delivers. My whole family has now switched how we cook them. I was really surprised that after 20 years to see such an improvement, but it just goes to show how you can always learn something new about a favorite dish!
Step-by-step German PancakesClick thumbnail to view full-size
Glass Pie Plates Work Too
These were the style of pie plates I first used to make this type of pancake, and they are much easier to find in the world and less costly, and this is what you will come across in most people's kitchens, so know that glass plates will work just fine too.
The Gluten-Free Question
I've gotten quite a few people asking me about making these gluten-free. Let's take a moment folks. This recipe is for a bread product that is very light and which is meant to rise a lot. The structure inside baking dough that creates that effect is....Gluten!
If you make a German pancake with gluten-free flour, it will be a nutritious and celiac-compliant flying disk with no rise. Edible, but not the same thing at all. Different taste and texture result.
Serving Suggestions & Cooking Tips
For yummy variations, try your German Pancakes with these flavor options!
- Top with lightly grilled veggies for a savory brunch treat.
- Adorn with fresh strawberries and a dollop of whipped cream.
- Cut the German Pancake in half and pair up with a few strips of honey-cured bacon
Want To Make A Better Pancake? Try these tricks and tips...
- Use organic eggs and raw milk from your local farmer's market for a super fresh variation that comes out lighter and fluffier. Test your egg freshness by putting them in a bowl of water: super fresh eggs will sink to the bottom, and not float at all.
- The recipe will work with low-fat through whole milks, but you get better rise out of the pancake when you've got more butter fat in the milk.
- Use only white flour for this recipe. Any substitutions wind up being too heavy for the pancake. It's not meant to be healthy, it's meant to be delicious and aesthetic.
- If you have trouble with the pancake not rising (aka the Frisbee factor), check to make sure the pan is large enough and that the butter does not get too browned before cooking. If those both check out, vary the milk type to see if you get better rise by increasing or decreasing the fat percentage.