Saturday morning means I get to have some fun making breakfast.
The day starts early because I drive to Madison, Connecticut (once East Guilford) to meet a group of guys for coffee around 6:30. They have been meeting for twenty years and were kind enough to let me join in.
For some reason, as I drove home I savored the memory of breakfast with one of my seminary roommates, Brad Creed, eating “Dutch Babies” at the Old South Pancake House. So I decided to make one this morning. Ginger accepted breakfast and then wondered why it was called a Dutch Baby. Here is what I learned:
According to Sunset magazine, Dutch babies were introduced in the first half of the 1900s at Manca’s Cafe, a family-run restaurant that was located in Seattle, Washington and that was owned by Victor Manca. While these pancakes are derived from the German pancake dish, it is said that the name Dutch baby was coined by one of Victor Manca’s daughters, where “Dutch” perhaps was her corruption of the German autonym deutsch. Manca’s Cafe claimed that it owned the trademark for Dutch babies in 1942.
They are really German pancakes (which I like since my mother’s family name was Schultz) that are relatives of the popover–it is as if a popover and a crepe had a kid.
As I sat down to type up the recipe, I went to put on some music and remembered John Prine’s record, German Afternoons. Since the title has no particular reference to any of the songs on the album, I went looking to see if I could learn why he chose it. Here is what I learned:
Prine said, “I had this guy explain to me once that a German afternoon is like you go into town with some errands to run and stuff to do but then you run into an old buddy you haven’t seen. And you drop into a bar for just a minute and start to talk. And next thing you know it’s already evening and you’ve just spent a German afternoon.”
I digress. Here’s the recipe.
½ cup flour
½ cup milk
1 tablespoon sugar
a pinch of nutmeg
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
Lemon juice, confectioners’ sugar, or syrup, jam, cinnamon sugar, or whatever else you might put on a pancake
Preheat oven to 425°.
Mix eggs, flour, milk, sugar and nutmeg in a blender or food processor. You can also do it by hand.
Place butter in a ten-inch cast iron skillet or baking dish and place in the oven. As soon as the butter has melted–dont let it burn–pull it out of the oven and add the batter to the pan. Return pan to the oven and bake for twenty minutes; the pancake will be puffed and golden. Lower oven temperature to 300° and bake another five minutes.
Remove pancake from oven, sprinkle with lemon juice and confectioner’s sugar, cut into wedges and serve–unless, of course, you want to top it with syrup, jam, or cinnamon sugar.
One of my favorite John Prine songs is on German Afternoons: “The Speed of the Sound of Loneliness.” One of the things I figured out over the years is that you can sing the words to “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing” to his tune. It deepens both songs for me.
prone to wonder, Lord I feel it
prone to leave the God I love
here’s my heart, O take and seal it
seal if for they courts above
what in the world’s come over you?
what in heaven’s name have you done?
you’ve broken the speed of the sound of loneliness
you’re out there running just to be on the run
Enjoy your German Saturday.