If I’ve ever made you breakfast, chances are you’ve eaten Oven Puffed Pancake. It’s been my signature morning dish for, oh, the past two decades or so. It’s from James McNair’s Breakfast, first published in 1987. My memory is a bit fuzzy, but I believe my dad and I bought this, along with a blue teapot, for my mom’s birthday. Family? Is that correct?
I loved this book.
All the recipes seemed sophisticated and refined, inspired by far-away places like France or New Orleans. Just flipping the pages had me imagining elegant brunches in sun-dappled dining rooms or fancy holiday breakfasts. Oven Puffed Pancake, also commonly called a Dutch Baby, was featured on the cover photo, and making this made me feel very Grown Up. Now I like it because it’s simple, yet showy, too. It’s great for company because you can whip up the batter in five minutes flat and still impress guests when you pull the great poofed dome out of the oven. The inside is custard-y but the outside crust is crisp and barely salty.
James McNair’s kitchen was certainly more well stocked than mine, as he suggests making individual portions in 4” cast iron pans. Lacking a single pan of that size, let alone enough to serve breakfast for a crowd, I typically triple or quadruple this recipe and make a giant pancake, serving wedges with a pile of fresh fruit. I’ve given the basic 1-person recipe here, but you’ll see the proportions make this easy to multiply. I’ve used a 12-inch skillet for a 4-serving pancake, or even a 9×12 baking dish for an 8-serving pancake. My favorite topping is juicy nectarines and a dusting of powdered sugar, but any fruit or berry will work. Here I used some cranberry compote.
Oven Puffed Pancake
For 1 Serving (multiply as necessary)
1 tsp salted butter
¼ C milk
¼ C flour
¼ tsp almond extract
Heat oven to 425°. Melt butter in a 4” cast iron pan in the oven.
Whisk remaining ingredients together until smooth. When oven is hot (don’t put it in early!), pour batter into pan. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the pancake is puffed and golden at the edges. Dust with powdered sugar, pile on fresh fruit and berries or serve with maple syrup or jam.