"I eat pancakes for breakfast every day. I just have them with a drizzle of maple syrup. I think we should all tell everyone, regardless of age, to make some pancakes in the morning. It's good for the soul and good for the body. It makes me angry that people say they're unhealthy."It's safe to say Patricia Trijbits is a pancake evangelist. The Netherlands native is a self-taught pancake connoisseur and owner of Where The Pancakes Are, a restaurant near London Bridge, serving (you guessed it) fluffy buttermilk pancakes with a variety of sweet and savoury toppings. But I've come to visit for another of her egg, flour, and milk-based specialities: the Dutch baby.
"Before we begin, we must have some breakfast," proclaims Trijbits.Orders taken, she tells me that the Dutch baby's name is somewhat deceiving. The pancake, which is made by oven-baking batter in a cast iron pan until it puffs up, is of German descent via California."The Dutch baby is not Dutch, it's German in origin and was brought to the States by German immigrants in the 1800s," explains Trijbits. "It's called Dutch because 'Deutsch' means 'German' in the native language, but the Americans got the pronunciation mixed up. It's always been around in the Californian breakfast sphere."
Despite living in the US for almost a decade in the 1990s, it was actually while on holiday in Ireland that Trijbits first discovered Dutch babies.She explains: "One of the women in the group introduced me to it. It was one of the first things that she learned to make as a student because it was a known fact that if you wake up next to a cute boy and you make him a Dutch baby, he's sure to stay. It was deemed a foolproof recipe for love!"
And what gives the Dutch baby its magic matchmaking powers? Time."These oven-baked pancakes use a very simple batter of eggs, flour, and milk like the buttermilk pancakes but, unlike other pancakes which are made very quickly, the Dutch baby is baked it in the oven for 20 minutes," Trijbits says. "So, the house smells beautiful and it looks gorgeous."
Our breakfast arrives and as I cut through my fluffy buttermilk stack, I ask Trijbits how the recipes for pancakes made in the pan and those baked in the oven differ."For the Dutch baby, we use Shipton Mill white flour and none of the buckwheat that we use in the buttermilk ones," she says. "With the buttermilk pancakes, we use a little bit of raising agent and buttermilk to create the fluffiness, but with the Dutch baby, there's no raising agent—it's the ratio of eggs and the oven which does all the work."
She continues: "To perfect our version, I did a lot of homework and testing and trying. In the States, Dutch babies are much more egg-heavy. So, it's much more like a soufflé, but the version that we've created is closer to a Yorkshire pudding."And, as with any other pancake, once you've got your Dutch baby base, you can go sweet or savoury. Where The Pancakes Are serve theirs with goat cheese, thyme, and rosemary or for those with a sweet tooth, there's stewed apple, fresh berries, and cream.Despite the extensive menu of toppings at Where the Pancakes Are and the way Trijbits talks about perfecting the batter's flour blend, she insists that the pancake's real beauty is in its simplicity.
"Without making it sound incredibly scientific or snobby, we've perfected the pancakes over a long time because we wanted to find a flour mix that doesn't make you feel stodgy after a stack of them," she says. "But I think it's very important to keep the threshold for making pancakes really low."
Trijbits continues: "All you need is some good flour, free range eggs, and some beautiful milk. You don't have to be a wizard to be able to whisk it up. Pancakes are quick, wholesome, and a good thing to have around. People should eat them every day. I think it's a really crazy thing that people have come to believe that eggs are not good for you, that fat is not good for you, and gluten is not good for you."
With this in mind, I feel no guilt at all about the fact that head chef Sayeed Nahid is currently preparing a Dutch baby for my second pancake breakfast of the day. A generous amount of butter is melted in a cast iron pan before the batter is ladled in. Stewed apples are added and then the whole thing goes in the oven to bake.
Trijbits wasn't lying about the aroma of a baking Dutch baby. Twenty minutes can't go by quick enough and Nahid finally removes the baked pancake from the oven, transferring it into another pan to cool. He adds almonds, blueberries, edible flowers, and a dusting of icing sugar as a final touch.
I soon polish off the light pancake and sweet apple filling but I haven't, as Trijbits warned might happen, fallen in love with the cook. I am, however, head over heels for the Dutch baby.This article originally appeared on MUNCHIES in February 2017.