David Eyre's Pancake

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Back in late February, when Molly at Orangette posted about her friend's dutch baby pancake, she got me craving a similar breakfast treat from my youth, the David Eyre's Pancake. When Megan at Not Martha posted about her own dutch pancake making experience, it put me over the edge. 

For some inexplicable reason, the oven-baked pancake, first popularized in a 1966 New York Times article by Craig Claiborne, was always known in my family as the "John Eyre’s pancake." Only when I searched for the recipe online a few years ago did I discover the misnomer. It turned out the pancake was named for David Eyre, the founding editor of Honolulu Magazine.

Craig Claiborne recalled the storied pancake in a 1985 article in the New York Times:

I discovered the pancake 20 years ago at a holiday brunch given by friends in Hawaii. The host was David Eyre, who has retired from newspaper and public relations work. Along about midday I arrived at his mountainside home in Honolulu. Describing the event soon after, I wrote: ''With Diamond Head in the distance, a brilliant, palm-ringed sea below and this delicately flavored pancake before us, we seemed to have achieved paradise.''

With the description, I printed a recipe for the holiday pancake. It turned out to be perhaps the most popular recipe to appear in this newspaper. I received a letter from Mr. Eyre telling me with mock anger that he wished he had been more discreet. It seems that he was deluged with telephone calls at odd hours of the night, sometimes from thousand of miles away, commenting on the recipe. It was not uncommon, he said, for tourists to knock on his door to tell him how much they enjoyed his contribution to their holiday breakfasts.

I'm not surprised he got this response. The pancake is so good and so incredibly easy to make, he deserved the deluge. Nevertheless, Mr. Eyre claimed that the recipe was not his in the first place, but, in fact, came from a 1919 cookbook.

When I was little, the pancake seemed like one of those truly magical foods. Into the oven goes a pan with a thin pool of batter and out comes a puffy new animal, rising, curling, and lifting up on the sides. The texture and flavor sort of resembles an open-faced popover, if there were such a thing. The traditional embellishment is to give the pancake a sweet-tart finish by dousing it, straight from the oven, with lemon juice and powdered sugar.

Kitchen Notes: (1) In my adaptation of the original recipe, I cut the butter down to three tablespoons from four. However, I did use a non-stick pan. (2) In this instance, the pancake not only puffed out on the sides but all over, rising up in the middle as well, as you can see in the photo. This may have been due to using a slightly smaller pan (a 10-inch ovenproof non-stick pan). (3) When I made the pancake, I got the idea of trying to make individually sized versions, not unlike the dutch babies, only in small gratin dishes that could be served at the table to each person. It's not something I've actually attempted, but it's something I'd like to try.

David Eyre’s Pancake
Adapted from Craig Claiborne

1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup milk
2 eggs
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon sugar
confectioner’s sugar (to taste)
fresh lemon juice (to taste)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, flour, and tablespoon of sugar. Melt the butter in a 12-inch skillet or ovenproof dish. Pour the batter into the pan or dish and bake for 20 minutes or until the pancake puffs up and turns golden brown (as seen in the photo above). Sprinkle with the confectioner's sugar and lemon juice. Watch it quickly deflate (as seen in the photo below) and serve immediately.

Serves two to four (depending on your will power).

RISE AND FALL The David Eyre's Pancake, in its puffed out state straight from the oven (above) and doused with lemon and sugar before devouring (below).

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Comments

Ooohhh - I haven't had one of these in ages. My mom, who loves all things lemon, used to make it as a late night. Her recipe (don't know the origin) is called "German Dessert Pancake" and has 1/3 c flour, 1/4 tsp b.p., 1/3 c milk, 2 eggs, & 2 tbs butter. She made it in an iron skillet and it was shared among 6 of us, though the recipe says it's for 4. Yours is beautiful (that first pic is unbelievable!) and putting me very much in the mood for one of these treats!

 

Josh, your photos are gorgeous! And the Claiborne quote is priceless. I look forward to trying David Eyre's rendition soon...

 

Hi Molly,

Thanks for the inspiration! I'll try the babies too, perhaps minus a little of the butter . . .

Cathy, how could 6 of you share that! That's just too small a ration. You could probably share this recipe among four, especially with something else on the side (like fruit), but two of us devoured it pretty quickly with no problem as a late breakfast/brunch.

 

Oh, yes--we used to have David Eyre's Pancake for special weekend breakfasts. My parents still keep the recipe taped to the inside of one of their kitchen cabinet doors. We, too, cut the amount of butter a bit, and we split it four ways. Um, except when I made one to eat all by myself.

Mmm, maybe I'll make that today.

A friend of German extraction once told me about a dish that sounded very similar, which he called "auf lauf."

Thanks for reminding me of this dish. Your pictures are lovely.

 

Thanks, I.

I think you could probably cut back on the butter. I reduced it from four to three tablespoons, but I bet you could get it down to two, depending upon the kind of pan you are using.

 

You might want to try a well-seasoned cast iron pan or a ceramic baking dish instead of a non-stick pan in the oven.

There is some evidence that temps above 446 degrees can cause toxic off-gassing in non-stick pans...people with birds are warned to only use non-stick in well-ventilated areas because the birdies keep keeling over, dead.

That being said, a "Dutch Baby" or "German Apple Pancake" is one of my favorite things - it is the same recipe, with apples either folded in the batter or sauteed with butter and cinnamon and served in the center.

 

Hi Suebob,

A cast-iron pan probably is preferable, and a ceramic baking dish will definitely work well too.

The non-stick pan I used is from Calphalon, which claims that it can be safely heated to 450 degrees, and since the recipe only requires heating the oven to 425 degrees, it didn't seem to be a problem.

I like the addition of the apples.

 

Wow, I just stumbled across your site looking for a NY Times avocado icecream recipe and I am so glad I did! I am making those badboys for brunch this weekend!

 

Josh,

Your site is great. I've really enjoyed jumping to the various postings and recipes. Your photos are really good (I just started testing food photography with my camera--still need to adjust the shutter and aperture a bit). I've been considering starting a food blog and quite inspired by yours.

I made the Eyre's pancake yesterday in a 12 inch saute pan that did not have a non-stick coating. It turned out well (the lemon is a nice complement to the soft doughy pancake), but I think could cut the butter down even to 2-2.5 tablespoons next time.

Suebob mentioned the toxic gas releasing from non-stick pans (and knocking off the little birdies from their perches). This is very true--I am still reeling from the day I saw my grandmother try to "wake" my childhood pet parakeets up from their "nap"--my mother had left a pot burning all night.

I know Calaphalon says their non-stick pans are good to 450 degrees, but I would hesitate before putting it in a oven that's over 325 degrees.

 

Thanks Tina and Pamela.

Interesting to hear that you can cut down the butter, yet safely dislodge the pancake from the pan.

Those poor parakeets . . .

 

Hi Josh - this looks divine! I might even try tomorrow morning... I have the same feeling about pan cakes as you said (magical!) By the way, when I saw the name David Eyre, I thought you were talking about a chef who is known as the father of gastropubs here in the UK...

 

Thanks Keiko. Strange name coincidence. Do make it! I'm looking forward to seeing your photographs.

 

David Eyre's pancake was my first cooking success--started making it when I was 8.It seemed like a miracle. I'm so glad you posted the recipe...my mother wrote it out for me when I went to college, and it's so stained and faded that it's near illegible.

Thanks!

 

Josh,
I remember having the David Eyre's Pancake everytime we visited you and your family in Massachusetts and Connecticut.I still have the recipe, but it is too fattening, so I don't make it. Next you have to post the skirt steak and mashed potatoes.
Thanks for the memories. Esther

 

Hi Esther,

Brings back the memories, doesn't it? It's not all that fattening if you split it among four -- comes out to half an egg and about 3/4 tablespoon butter per person. And just a wee bit of sugar.

 

Hey Josh,

this pan cake looks stunningly good! The first picture alone makes me want to check for the readily available ingredients in my fridge. The sweet-tooth that I am I might just go ahead and do it...

Apart from that, I value your site a lot - great resource for inspiration!

 

I looked all over the internet for my 'grammas' SQUARE CAPPY' receipe.
My Icelandic grandmother made something like what your picture looks like, but used an old black deep (square) pan. when the dough rises it seemed to hold its shape.
Sounds like this THING we all remember, has many names. Going to try yours, hers went with her to heaven. Thank you for the picture and the memory.
Patti in Redmond, WA

 

I work at a B+B this pancake is my favorite thing to make. The looks on our guests faces is priceless. I have made these as individual servings. I use the cover of a glass pirex casurole dish (small) I can make four pancakes from one recipe. I also make different toppings depending on the season.Summer time fruit is the best. All you do to make this topping in a sauce pan use any juice that complements the fruit orange works well add one cup juice one T corn starch 1/2 cup sugar. bring to a boil sauce will thicken
meanwhile have fruit ready to place on top of pancake pour sauce over pancake serve right away. Enjoy.

 

Um, I think you left out the nutmeg. The original David Eyre's recipe printed in the Times has nutmeg in it. All it takes is a pinch. Obviously you don't have to use nutmeg if you don't want, and lots of people add other stuff, but the original 1966 recipe included nutmeg. I also throw in a couple of drops of orange and almond.

 

Made the pancake today, for the first time since my wife passed away, but was able to use Meyer's Lemons. Wow! just fantastic. Try it out sometime. Info about the lemons is here, though it looks like this site doesn't like links in comments: splendidtable.publicradio.org/souptonuts/farmstand_lemons.html

 

My grandfather is David W. Eyre, who 'made up' the recipe (he admits that he combined a couple of other pop-over and german pancake recipes). He's 94 years old now and doesn't know much about the internet, but was THRILLED to read all the comments about the pancake on this site when I printed it out for him. How exciting that people were still making this delicious thing -- and having such a sweet connection to his name! In our family, we still eat it a few times a year -- but my dad is the main chef now. When I was a little girl, my dad told me that the recipe was secret and only passed down to the male members of the family (he probably said that to my ruffle budding feminist feathers!). After three girls, a boy was finally born and my pop said "Thank heavens, the recipe will survive!" But by then, I had seen and copied down the framed copy of the NY Times recipe framed in my grandfather's kitchen... Warm aloha from Emma.

 

Hi Emma,

So wonderful to hear from you. I am completely in shock that this post found its way to you and to your grandfather. I believe it's one of the most popular recipes ever published in the New York Times, which makes it all the more funny that you grew up thinking it was a family secret. Thanks so much for sharing your story and best wishes to your family.

 

I have been looking for a recipe called the german pancake I have tried many at cooks corner and have yet to find the correct one. You stated that it may have puffed out all over do to using smaller pan that has been the key all along. I tried this recipe and it is the one I have looked for, for about 10 years. my grandma used to take us to a pancake house in wi after a night at church bingo if she one we were not wealthy so this was a once in a blue moon treat and there we found huge pancakes filled with butter and apples this is wonderfull and now that she has passed away and the pancake house in wausau wi has closed I can still share this great desert with my children thanks it means allot even at twenty nine years of age i feel like I am sitting with her behind that table with a pancake as big as I am thanks again.

 

All the above comments are interesting. My family has been making this pancake for thirty years, and it has gone through a few transformations. First, I use a whole cup of flour, 2 eggs, dash of salt, tsp vanilla, and an "OOOPS" cup of milk (Slightly more than a cup--as if you poured too fast and the milk split over the top of your measuing cup). I only put 1-1.5 Tbls butter in the bottom of my 9x9 glass pan. We've added apples, berries, bananas, or even Jarlsberg cheese on top before baking. Currently my favorite way to serve it is with maple syrup and a dolup of my favorite yogurt.

 

Dare I say, YUM-O?! I think 3 tbsp of butter was much on the seasoned cast iron skillet. Also, instead of lemon and powdered sugar, I prefer fresh berries and mildly sweet whipped cream, but this is a great quick fool-proof recipe. Thank you.

 

Oh that looks so delicious and umm fattening :(

 

This looks sooo comforting and wonderful! Hmmm I love Pancakes of Mrs.Beasleys and FannieMay stores at couponalbum.com.. hmm they are too delicious..

 

Thanks for keeping this up for so long. My Stepmother Rosemary used to make this in London when I was a kid. Being able to use this/her recipie was brought back some wonderful memories. Thank you so much.
C Burgis, Sunyside, NY

 

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In our family they're called Yankee Pancakes.

 

This has been a family Christmas breakfast tradition for as long as I remember. As kids, the David W Eyre pancake became dubbed "Eeyore pancakes"
We were AA Milne fans.

Just put my pan in the oven!

 

very nice article thanks for the share

 

wow that looks amazing and very delicious

 

In Uta Hagen's "Love for Cooking" book, dated 1973 she has a recipe called "Haskel and Marilyn's Baked Pancake". Serves 2-4. It is the 1/2 cup flour recipe, only Uta called for a few gratings of Nutmeg. I smile when i read that it feeds so many. I knock this baby off by myself and smile happiness. I cook it in a square Corning Ware shallow 10X10 pan. Perfect.

 

When you want to show off for houseguests, this is the way to do it. I can't find my beat-up copy of the New York Times article and was thrilled to find it on your web site. Thank you, thank you, thank you. The first time I made it (always in a cast iron skillet) I took a picture, it was so beautiful, even prettier than yours I do believe. It rose so high around the edges, just a little lumpy in the middle and crispy brown on the rim...absolutely divine with the squeeze of lemon juice, powdered sugar and I like a little spread of fig jam. Individual pancakes sounds like a great idea; I will definitely try it. I am always looking for dishes that are divine, EASY, and foolproof. This one fits the bill on all counts!

 

We, too, grew up with this recipe and this is the first time I've looked it up (46 yrs after I first had it). My mother never used sugar in it but granulated sugar on top with lemon and it was delicious and plenty sweet. The sugar dissolved with the lemon juice.
I didn't realize it had a Hawaiian origin. Now I have to ask my Hawaiian cousins if they've ever had it.

 

I've been making this pancake for many years ... the one I first saw used a pinch of nutmeg instead of the sugar. I prefer the slightly sweet version here. I use whole milk, or a mix of skim and 1/2 & 1/2. I also add a teeny bit of the melted butter to the batter.

One really important thing: the pan should NOT be hot when you pour the batter in. Just get it warm enough to melt the butter and then turn the heat off. If the pan is too hot, the batter will set and the pancake won't rise as well. On the other hand, the oven must be completely heated before the pan is put in.

 

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This food really looks good. Thank you for sharing this wonderful post. Hope to see more post.

 

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