Dutch baby pancakes, also called German pancakes, are one of my family’s favorite breakfast treats. These large-format puffed pancakes are beloved for their crisped edges and creamy interior as well as the super-satisfying way they puff up in the oven.
My younger sister recently texted me, “Why didn’t my Dutch baby rise like yours always does?” We talked through the recipe and found two simple, but key steps she overlooked that made her Dutch pancake flat. Here’s what happened with my sister’s recipe, and what you can do to ensure tall results if you’re struggling with the same issues.
Why Didn’t My Dutch Baby Puff Up?
Mistake 1: Not Resting the Batter
Getting air into a Dutch baby is easy enough. A simple whisk and a strong arm work well, but a blender or food processor can be more efficient. But here’s the tricky part: The batter also needs to be able to trap the air, or it won’t work. Kitchn’s Dutch baby recipe recommends resting the batter for at least 10 minutes, which seems counterintuitive. “Won’t the air deflate as the batter sits?” my sister asked. You might think so, but resting the batter allows some gluten and proteins in the flour to develop, so the batter can stretch without breaking and, importantly, better hold air. Just make sure to give the batter another hearty whisk (or whirl in your electric machine) right before baking.
Mistake 2: Not Having Enough Heat
Once you’ve got a good amount of air in your Dutch baby batter, you’ll need a properly-hot pan (and oven) to achieve that mile-high Dutch baby. Start by putting your cast iron skillet (or muffin pan or casserole dish, depending on the recipe) in the oven as the oven pre-heats and the batter rests. If your oven runs cold or takes a long time to heat up, make sure that you give your pan (and your oven) an extra 10 minutes to preheat.
You’ll know your batter and pan are just right when the batter starts to sizzle, set, and steam as soon as it hits the pan. Then the only thing you need to do is close the oven door and wait for that baby to rise.