You cannot skimp on the butter. I know it seems ludicrous to use 4 tablespoons (2 ounces) of butter to make one very large pancake, I get it. It even looks like too much. But here, let the Queen of Rationalizing explain it: Most pancake recipes have a few tablespoons of melted butter in the batter plus a few more tablespoons required for frying. This only has it in the pan. And it’s essential because whenever I’ve tried to use less, the pancake sticks in a spot and doesn’t get those glorious rumples (see here). The pancake needs to be able slip along the surface of the pan to do its pretty thing. If you have a nonstick frying pan that’s oven-safe at 425 degrees F, you can probably get away with less; otherwise, just go with it.
An eggier batter made a more dramatic pancake: I most often made big dutch baby pancakes in the David Eyre’s style, 2 eggs in a 12-inch frying pan. But they’re only billowy about 2/3 of the time (see here). When I referred back to the recipe I grew up with, I realized I always used to use more in a big pan, and sure enough, 4 eggs made a much more dramatic, and reliably dramatic, pancake than 2, and was more filling too. Using a little less milk and a little less flour also increased the pouf.
Finally, dutch baby-style pancakes will always partially fall right in the minute after leaving the oven so if you want people to ooh and ah over it, have them stand by the oven when the timer rings.
You can use this recipe to make 1 big 12-inch pancake or 2 smaller 9-inch pancakes. I haven’t used it to make 4 6-inch pancakes, but I have a feeling I will in the near future.
- 4 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons (25 grams) sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon coarse or kosher salt
- 6 tablespoons (50 grams) all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons (15 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder, any variety, sifted if lumpy
- 1/2 cup (120 ml) milk (I use whole)
- 4 tablespoons (60 grams) unsalted butter
- Shaved dark chocolate and powdered sugar (to finish)
- Fresh berries and syrup (to serve, if desired)
Whisk eggs, sugar and salt in the bottom of a medium bowl. Add flour and cocoa, whisking until mostly smooth (some tiny lumps are okay, but whisk out what you can). Drizzle in milk, whisking the whole time.
Heat a 12-inch ovenproof skillet on the stove over high heat. Add butter and melt, tipping the pan around so it butters the sides too. Turn heat off and scrape batter into pan. Transfer skillet to oven and bake for 16 to 18 minutes, until pancake is billowy.
Remove from oven and grate chocolate over, to taste. Dust generously with powdered sugar. Cut in halves or quarters and eat with berries and syrup, if desired.
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