With a custardy interior and butter-fried golden edges, this Dutch Baby pancake (aka German Pancake) is one of our favorite camping breakfasts. All you need is a Dutch oven!
A Brief History Of the “Dutch” Baby
Spoiler: There’s not much that’s Dutch about this pancake.
The “Dutch Baby” was developed by Seattle restaurateur Victor Manca in the early 1900’s. While the dish doesn’t look like a traditional Dutch pancake known as a Pannenkoeken, it did look very similar to a style of German pancake known as an pfannkuchen.
The story goes that when naming his “new” recipe, Manca’s daughter mispronounced Deutsch (the German word for German) as Dutch and the moniker was born. As the dish grew in popularity, the Deutsch Baby became known as a Dutch Baby.
For this camping version, we’ve added yet another layer of Dutch convolution: a Dutch oven.
While the people of the Netherlands were loosely involved with this one (in that they perfected the use of dry sand molds to shape cast iron), it’s widely believed Englishman Abraham Darby invented the covered cast iron pot we now refer to as a Dutch oven.
So there you have it, a German pancake, made inside an English pot, which, for some, reason we call a Dutch Baby. Neat!
Eggs: Try to use room temperature eggs, which seem to work better for this recipe. Scramble thoroughly until completely smooth.
Milk: We used whole milk for this recipe, but it would also work with oat milk. Just opt for the extra creamy version. The recipe works best if the milk is at room temperature, too.
Flour: Regular AP flour.
Sugar: We don’t add a ton of sugar to the batter, which gives you the option to steer your final pancake in either a sweet or savory direction depending on your toppings.
Salt: Got to have it.
Butter: Don’t skimp on this! The butter is what is going to help develop those delightful crispy crunchy edges (the best part).
Dutch oven: If you want to make a Dutch Baby at a campsite, then you’ll need a Dutch oven. For this recipe we we used our 10” inch Lodge Dutch oven. Hot coals or embers go underneath and on top, to allow you to bake inside of it.
Lid Lifter: We use this Lodge 4-in-1 lid lifter tool to help us remove and reposition our Dutch oven lid once the coals are on.
How to make a Dutch Baby Pancake
Below are the details on how to make this Dutch Baby recipe while camping. If you want to make it at home, check out the info box at the end for directions!
Prepare the Fire or Charcoal
Honestly, this is the most time consuming part of this entire recipe! If you’re planning on using embers, make sure you start your campfire about an hour before you want to start cooking. Check out our how to make a campfire article for tips on how build a campfire for embers.
A faster method is to use charcoal. With the aid of a charcoal chimney, you can get charcoal ready in about 20 minutes.
Make the Batter
To make the batter, crack the eggs into a large mixing bowl and beat vigorously until smooth. Add the milk, and give a quick stir to incorporate. Then add the flour, sugar, salt, and optional nutmeg. Mix together until smooth.
It’s okay if the batter sits out for a little bit. This recipe actually works better if all the batter ingredients are at room temperature.
Melt the Butter
Once the embers or charcoals are ready, set your Dutch oven over the heat to warm it up. Place your butter in the bottom of the Dutch oven and swirl it around until it melts. Once the butter is completely melted, pour your batter into the Dutch oven.
It’s important to do this a relatively level surface. The batter is very loose and will pool up on one side if the Dutch oven is on a significant tilt.
The internal temperature you’re aiming for inside your Dutch oven is 425 F. There are charcoal temperature charts that will give you a rough idea how many briquettes to use under and top of your Dutch oven. However, as you’ll find out over time, these charts can only give you a very rough estimate.
For this recipe, we spread out a small mound of charcoal under our Dutch oven and then we cover the entire top of the lid in a single layer of hot charcoals.
The best way to tell when the Dutch Baby is done is with your nose. At around 10 minutes (possibly less) you will start to smell a golden brown fragrance. This is your cue to give a quick peek. If the tops and edges are golden brown, it’s done! Remove from the heat.
The Dutch Baby really does puff up a lot. It will be at its most impressive the moment you open the lid and will appear to be pushing out of the pot. But once the heat is released, it will collapse slightly.
If you are only making one, you may opt to leave the Dutch Baby in the pot, which will help keep it warm. But if you want to reset to make another, you can slide a spatula down the side and lift it out onto a cutting board or plate.
Dust with powdered sugar, garnish with berries, and drizzle with maple syrup.
How to cook a Dutch Baby in a home oven: Place a 10″ cast iron skillet in your oven while it preheats to 425F. Prepare the batter in the same manner as above. When you’re ready to cook, add the butter to the skillet (keep it in the oven) and once it’s fully melted, (carefully!) remove the skillet from the oven, swirl the butter to evenly coat the bottom, and pour the batter into the center of the pan. Pop the skillet back into the oven and cook 15-20 minutes until puffed up and golden.
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup whole milk, at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg, optional
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- Syrup, fresh fruit, preserves, confectioners' (powdered) sugar, or cinnamon sugar
- Prepare your coals: Either light charcoals (recommended) or start a campfire for cooking. Coals will take about 20 minutes to light, a campfire will take up to an hour to burn down to embers. For home cooking, see note*.
- To make the batter, crack the eggs into a large mixing bowl and beat vigorously until smooth. Add the milk, and give a quick stir to incorporate. Then add the flour, sugar, salt, and optional nutmeg. Mix together until smooth.
- Once the embers or charcoals are ready, set your Dutch oven over the heat to preheat Place the butter in the bottom of the Dutch oven and swirl it around until it melts. Once the butter is completely melted, pour your batter into the Dutch oven.
- Cover the Dutch oven with the lid. Place on a small bed of coals, and then cover the lid with additional coals.
- After 10 minutes, take a quick peak to check progress. You're looking for the Dutch baby to be puffed up and golden brown in spots. Cook for a few more minutes if needed, and remove from the heat when it's done.
- Serve immediately with your toppings of choice.