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My 3-year-old son and I have fallen into the classic American Saturday-morning routine: Wake up, make pancakes, watch cartoons (or European soccer, if he’s feeling generous).

But lately I’ve been feeling slumpish about my pancake game. After experimenting with various batter recipes, mix-ins (his favorite: raisins), and micro trends (pancake cereal: cute, but not worth the fuss), I’ve found a pancake that’s versatile, visually arresting, and requires zero at-the-stove labor, which means more time for soccer Octonauts: the single-serving Dutch baby.

Despite its indeterminate name (the recipe originated in Germany; the name in Seattle), the Dutch baby is a simple recipe that can skew sweet or savory, and is easy to scale up or down, depending on the size of your skillet—and brood. You can also prepare the batter the night before, so the only prep you have to do in the morning is turn on the oven.

Photo: Lauren V. Allen

Field Notes:

1.

My recipe is eggier than most, which results in a puffier pancake.

2.

This recipe was developed for a No.6 (8 ⅜-inch) cast iron skillet, but it can be doubled to accommodate a No.12 skillet.

3.

Resting the batter for at least 15 minutes before cooking allows the flour to absorb the liquid, giving you a better texture and flavor. I usually make the batter the night before, which makes Saturday morning even easier.

4.

Take this into a savory territory by omitting the vanilla and sugar, adding a pinch of salt to the batter, and topping with grated cheese, diced ham, crumbled (cooked) bacon, herbs, etc.

Recipe: Single-Serving Cast Iron Dutch Baby

Yield: 1 serving

Instructions

1.

In a blender, combine the eggs, flour, milk, sugar, and vanilla. Blend for a few seconds, then scrape down the side of the carafe with a spatula and blend again. Let the batter rest for at least 15 minutes to allow the flour to absorb the liquid. You can also make the batter the night before, and refrigerate overnight.

2.

Position an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 425°F. Place a No.6 (8 ⅜-inch) Field Skillet in the oven while it heats up.

3.

When the oven is ready, remove the skillet and add the butter, swirling the pan until it's melted. Pour the batter into the skillet and tilt the pan until it evenly coats the bottom of the skillet.

4.

Place the skillet in the oven and bake until the pancake is puffy and golden brown (the sides will be darker brown than the top, about 15 minutes. Remove the skillet from the oven and use a spatula to transfer the pancake to a serving plate. Add desired toppings and serve right away.


Seasoning Rating: Best

The Dutch Baby will slide right off a well-buttered skillet when done. If serving directly in the pan, just be careful not to slice too aggressively!

Seasoning Ratings:

Best—These dishes are the best options for building resilient seasoning, and surefire choices for getting tricky pans back on track.

Better—The best way to keep your skillet in great shape is to cook frequently, and cast iron-friendly dishes like these are your bread and butter.

Safe—These recipes won't strip seasoning away from your pan, but won't really add any, either.

OK—Be sure to clean up promptly. Recipes with this rating might feature acidic ingredients which can affect seasoning if not washed soon after cooking.

Cast Iron Cookware that Makes Clean-up Easy


The key to reliable, use-it-every-day cast iron is seasoning: a smooth, well-seasoned skillet will clean up with just a quick wash, and produce natural non-stick performance every time. Apply a dab of Field Seasoning Oil after cleaning to protect your skillet and build durable non-stick seasoning.