Big Little Recipe has the smallest-possible ingredient list and big everything else: flavor, creativity, wow factor. That means five ingredients or fewer — not including water, salt, black pepper, and certain fats (like oil and butter), since we're guessing you have those covered. This month, we're sharing sneak peeks from the Big Little Recipes cookbook, all revving up to its release on November 9 (blasts airhorn, throws confetti in the air).
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The hardest part about buttermilk pancakes is standing at the stove. Dolloping, waiting, flipping, waiting, again, again, again. The good news is: If you skip a few ingredients, you can also skip this step.
Today, you won't need sugar, buttermilk, baking powder, or baking soda. In fact, you won't need all-purpose flour either. We're making a totally whole-grain pancake — yep, just one — to feed two people. And it's just as suited for a sleepy brunch as it is a speedy dinner.
You might recognize this recipe as a Dutch baby. It also goes by Bismarck, German pancake, and, my favorite, puff pancake. Inspired by German pfannkuchen, the Dutch baby as we know it "is commonly ascribed to Manca's Cafe, a Seattle restaurant that existed in the early 20th century," according to Eater. Similar to a popover or Yorkshire pudding, this pancake bakes instead of pan-fries, going into the oven as a suspiciously thin batter, and coming out as — whoa.
Like a soufflé, the dramatic poof is all thanks to eggs. These make up the bulk of our puff pancake, giving it structure and lift and flavor. And bonus: Because we're already using eggs in the batter, why not fry up a couple more and throw them on as a hearty topping?
Many Dutch baby recipes turn to milk as the liquid. But substituting crème fraîche brings a few big perks. Tangy and buttery, this ingredient adds depth and richness to the batter — and, when thinned with a splash of water, acts much like milk. Another bonus: More crème fraîche becomes the world's most glorious pancake topping. (If you can't find, sour cream is a great understudy.)
Because the eggs and dairy are already doing so much hard work, flour isn't as important as it is in other baking recipes. This is a good thing. Because while doing a one-to-one swap of all-purpose to whole-grain in, say, a pound cake wouldn't go well (don't do it), in a puff pancake, which needs such a small quantity of flour, anything goes. That means we can use all rye flour and not have to dilute its nutty, malty flavor.
To go with the sunny eggs and creamy swirls on top, I like to sauté some ruffly kale until it relaxes, becoming silky and supple. But no one puts puff pancake in a corner. With a crispy, brown-buttery crust and fluffy, tender middle, it gets along with everyone. Swap out kale for another sautéed vegetable, like spinach, scallions, or mushrooms. Or go rogue with bacon or prosciutto, or smoked salmon or trout.
What's most important is that you do something fun while the pancake bakes in the oven for 20-something minutes. Tell me, what strikes your fancy? Shall we turn on some tunes and dance?
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
- 3 large eggs
- 1/4 cup (60 grams) crème fraîche
- 1/2 cup (65 grams) rye flour
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 bunch Tuscan kale, stems removed, leaves chopped
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 large eggs
- Crème fraîche
- Turn on the oven to 450°F and immediately stick a 9-inch or 10-inch cast-iron skillet inside. Now work on the pancake batter. Combine the eggs, crème fraîche, and 1⁄3 cup water in a bowl and whisk until smooth. Add the flour, salt, and pepper and whisk again.
- Use oven mitts to transfer the skillet to the stove over medium heat. Add the butter, swirling the pan for full coverage. Once the butter has melted, whisk the batter, then pour it into the pan. Turn off the stove and get the skillet into the oven. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the pancake has dramatically puffed.
- While the pancake is baking, work on the greens. Melt 1/2 tablespoon of the butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until it just starts to brown, then add the kale and toss a couple of times. Cover the pan and cook for 1 minute, until wilted. Uncover, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook for another 3 minutes or so, tossing occasionally, until tender. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed, then transfer the greens to a bowl and lower the heat to medium-low.
- Add the remaining ½ tablespoon butter to the emptied skillet. Once that's melted, crack in the eggs, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cover the skillet. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, checking frequently, until the whites are set but the yolks are still runny. Turn off the heat, uncover the skillet, and let the eggs hang out until the puff pancake is ready.
- Serve the hot puff pancake with the greens, eggs, and spoonfuls of crème fraîche: You can arrange everything in the cast-iron skillet, or cut the pancake into pieces, transfer to two plates, and divvy up the toppings there.
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