Year’s ago we came across a recipe for Dutch Baby with Lemon Sugar that our friend Jane Lear had come up with when she was Senior Articles Editor for Gourmet magazine.  It took only three eggs, two lemons and some sugar and flour to make a glorious dessert: a giant popover with pancake overtones made in an iron skillet. As we were gobbling it, we thought: Wouldn’t this also be great SAVORY instead of sweet? We imagined it baking it with grated Parmigiano Reggiano, to make something akin to a giant gougere, an eggy, crispy cheese puff usually made in bite-size portions. We tried it and it worked, to sublime effect.

Sally Schneider

Our plan: take out the sweet stuff, vanilla and spices from Gourmet’s recipe to leave the essential batter in place. Then add grated Parmigiano and flavorings that complement it: cayenne, nutmeg, black pepper, salt.

The first try was a bust: we’d mixed too much cheese into the batter, which then didn’t have enough ballast to rise, and baked into stodgy pancake. So we mulled it a bit and tried a different strategy: Using less cheese and sprinkling it on TOP of the batter before popping it into the oven. The result: a hugely puffed fragrant cheese creation: part crispy, part chewy, part eggy/pancakey delight…We ate the whole thing.



Best of all, we found we had a Formula for an Eggy, Chewy, Crispy Puffed Pancake (Savory or Sweet):
Take the basic batter: 3 eggs + 2/3 cup milk + 2/3 cup flour + salt + 2 tablespoons butter
-turn it sweet, by adding sweet spices and vanilla and sprinkling it at the end with lemon sugar
-turn it savory, by sprinkling 1/2 cup finely grated cheese on top OR stirring a few tablespoons finely snipped chives into the batter
Just follow the steps in the recipes below.

Sweet Dutch Baby with Lemon Sugar, Romulo Yanes for Gourmet

Recipe: Giant Parmigiano Popover Pancake

This makes a great lunch or supper it would be for two, OR even better, a dramatic hors d’oeuvres to serve with cocktails or wine AND a perfect midnight snack, after a night of carousing.

The secret to getting a big PUFF is to have the eggs and milk at room temperature (take them out 30 to 45 minutes before you make it) AND having a really hot pan.

Serves 2 to 4, or 1 crazed person

3 large eggs, broken into a medium bowl and left at room temperature for 30 minutes
2/3 cup whole milk, at room temperature
2/3 cup all-purpose flour (spooned into a measuring cup and leveled off)
Scant 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
A pinch of cayenne
Freshly ground black pepper
A few scrapings of nutmeg
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup loosely-packed grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Put a 10-inch cast-iron skillet on the middle rack of the oven and preheat to 450′ for  about 20 minutes.

While the pan is heating, measure out your ingredients, adding the salt, cayenne, pepper and nutmeg to the flour. At the end of the 20 minutes, mix the batter:

Beat the eggs with a whisk until well blended, then beat in the milk. Add the flour mixture and whisk until blended.

Remove the pan from the oven and add the butter; swirl to coat the bottom and sides completely (if necessary, use a brush to swab the sides.) Pour the melted butter into the batter and whisk a few times to combine. Then scrape the batter into the hot pan. Sprinkle the cheese evenly over the batter. Return the skillet to the oven and bake until puffed and golden brown, about 20 minutes. Reduce the oven to 250′ and cook 5 minutes longer.

Serve at once, cutting or tearing the pancake into pieces.


Recipe Trail: Dutch Baby with Lemon Sugar

You’ll find Gourmet’s original recipe for Dutch Baby with Lemon Sugar here. We found that using only 2 tablespoons of butter and mixing some of it into the batter worked best. And we like letting each person sprinkle as much Lemon Sugar on their serving as they like. You’ll have way more than you need, but it keeps indefinitely to use on all sorts of things, including French toast and yogurt – or your next Dutch Baby.


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7 replies on “Giant Chewy, Crispy, Eggy Popover-Pancake (Savory or Sweet)

  1. Sally, I often find your posts quite prescient. I just made a savory Dutch Baby recipe from Melissa Clark’s newest cookbook. The recipe called for 8 eggs and 1 1/2 cups of cheese plus herbs. While it was delicious, it was a bit heavy and eggy and not precisely what I was looking for to serve as an hors d’oeuvre. I was going to tinker with the recipe, but your post gives me a new blueprint to try out. Thank you!

  2. Hi Louisa, A strange synchronicity that often occurs between readers and Improvised Life postings, as it does with questions/ideas in my own life and ideas I stumble upon. So YAY! The first iteration of the cheese popover was pretty heavy (though good), so the changes I made should obviate that. I’ve found it to be truly gougere-like. You could always through Melissa Clark’s flavorings in if you like… Let me know how it goes!

  3. Hi Sally. I find there is hardly anything that can’t be improved upon without a little Parmesan! I’ll be making this tomorrow for sure. Be well.

  4. hi Sally! I recently moved across the world and couldn’t bring my cast iron skillet along. Would a regular rectangular pyrex baking dish work do you think? Thank you for your site & your work!

  5. I made your savory version of this today for lunch with a friend. We both loved it. I did leave out the nutmeg, simply because I don’t like it. I wanted to include a photo of it here, but I can’t figure out how. Trust me, it was beautiful! A tip to others . . . check on it after about 16 minutes of baking. Mine was already “puffed and golden brown” at that point.

    To Una: I bet the pyrex baking dish would work. My mother used to make Yorkshire Pudding in a rectangular pyrex backing dish. This Puff Pancake is very similar to Yorkshire Pudding. You might not want to heat the pan for long though. My mom’s recipe says to “pour pan drippings into glass baking dish and heat briefly”. And be careful of thermal shock that can shatter pyrex–don’t put hot pyrex on anything wet or damp and make sure anything you put into hot pyrex isn’t very cold.

  6. FYI, clicking the Dutch Baby with Lemon Sugar Link returned an “Error Page Not Found” for me.

  7. Thanks for the headsup, Chris! I tracked the new link for the recipe at Epicurious down here. And the links in that original post are updated.

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