Puff the magic pancake

As much as I love pancakes, I’d never been able to find a recipe I really, REALLY liked. That all changed while we were working on King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking, the book we published 2 years ago. At the start of the project, the three authors—myself, fellow blogger Susan Reid, and Susan Miller, director of King Arthur’s Baking Education Center—divvied up the book’s proposed chapters. And in we jumped.

I grabbed yeast bread, cookies, and pie; Susan Miller took the breakfast chapter, along with several others. HA! Whole-grain pancakes—I can’t even make a good pancake out of all-purpose flour, never mind trying to deal with the vagaries of whole grains… So it was with great delight that I tasted Susan’s signature recipe for whole-grain pancakes—my goodness, they were PERFECT. Light, tender, moist and a bit “eggy” (in a nice way). I simply couldn’t limit myself to one test bite (a single bite being my “save the waistline” policy for taste-testing over 400 recipes.)

These pancakes absorb the butter and syrup without becoming soggy; they even look lovely, golden brown shading to darker patches. Homemade Whole Grain Pancakes (p. 4, the second recipe in the book) has become my go-to, default, constant-companion pancake recipe. (And sorry, it’s not online—if you don’t have the book, check it out at your library. Or heck, you COULD even buy the book, which as I can witness after taste-testing those 400+ recipes, is filled with REALLY tasty treats.)

But getting back to my lingering pancake ineptitude, I still don’t have a traditional “white flour” pancake recipe I love. So, time and time again, I go back to a 40-year-old favorite breakfast treat, something my mom found in The New York Times and made for us on special occasions. A recipe that was that newspaper’s most-requested reprint ever.

Called “David Eyre’s Pancake” in the Times, it’s simply another version of Dutch babies, Swedish puffs, German pancakes… take your geographical pick. The flour-butter-egg-milk batter is basically a popover batter, gussied up with a bit of sugar and spices. Poured into sizzling butter in a shallow pan and baked, it puffs to amazing heights in the oven. Pull it out, drizzle with lemon juice, sprinkle with sugar, add a few berries, and serve—immediately. It deflates quickly (sigh), but its taste lingers on long after its impressive height has evaporated.

Ready? Let’s make Puff Pancakes.

First, find an oven-safe frying pan that’s the right size. It should be between 10” and 11” across the bottom. Either straight or sloping sides are fine, but make sure it’s wide enough at the bottom.

Put flour, sugar, spices, and some lemon peel in one bowl; eggs, milk, and vanilla in another (or in a measuring cup).

Put your chosen pan on a hot burner, and heat the butter.

Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients till smooth. This isn’t smooth.

THIS is smooth.

When the butter is melted and sizzling…

Pour the batter into the pan.

Immediately put the pan in the oven, which you’ve preheated to 425°F.

While the pancake is baking, get your lemon and confectioners’ sugar ready.

WHOA! Look at that pancake POP!

All ready to come out.

A squeeze of lemon…

A sprinkle of confectioners’ sugar…

Add berries…

Slice and serve!

View our recipe for Puff Pancakes.

PJ Hamel

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!


  1. mbhw

    Hi! I know that his thread is very old, but the link for the recipe is broken. Is it possible to get the Puff Pancake recipe? I’m having trouble with some of the other recipes. My attempts don’t puff as much in the center and then it tastes eggy. Would using 2% milk instead of whole cause this? Thanks!

    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Sorry, here’s the puff pancake recipe. The difference wouldn’t be in the milkfat – are you using large eggs? Try bringing the eggs and milk to room temperature before baking, too – hopefully this helps. PJH

  2. Laura

    My family liked to have these for special occasions, like Christmas morning. We called them Bismark pancakes though. I love them, but they sure do have a lot of butter.

  3. matt

    I make this all the time! its super easy and super delicious. One thing to comment on, is that when mixing the ingredients together.. i suggest using a hand whisk instead of a high speed mixer. the high speed tends to create a lot of bubbles and air in the mix, which kills the ‘raising’ of the pancake. it comes out flat and bubbly, similar to what a potato pancake would look like.
    So, definitely use a hand held whisk, so that the batter is smooth and creamy.

  4. April R

    I’ve made these many times over the years. Every once in a while, the pancake doesn’t puff — it’s just a solid flat mass. I don’t recall doing anything different but there must be something. Any ideas on what is required for ‘puffing up’ to happen (e.g., batter being room temperature, pan being hot, etc.)? I’m sure there’s some food chemistry explanation. I just don’t know what it is.

  5. Suzy B

    Oh, yes, I’m from Milwaukee and my first experience with these was at Pandl’s Restaurant. I’ve had it served warm with powdered sugar on top and good maple syrup, but my favorite is having it covered with sauteed apples that were cooked with butter, brown sugar, and a touch of cinnamon. Almost any fruit would do on these pancakes. Or go naked with just the sugar and maple syrup. Yummy.

  6. NancyB

    My favorite way to serve these is topped with fresh peaches (sliced, tossed with a few teaspoons of sugar to draw out the juices, and maybe a squirt of lemon juice) and sour cream. Summer in a skillet!

  7. Donna Mae

    My mother use to make this recipe all the time as far back as I can remember, I’m 50 now. She called it Yorkshire Pudding and got the recipe from my Dad’s relatives who were English. Only we always had them for dinner and topped them with gravy, usually beef. I always knew they were a pop over type recipe but never thought of using them for breakfast. Hmmmm.
    I have a very old cookbook ( a Fanny Farmer) that also calls it Yorkshire Pudding. It states that the ingredients should be at room temp.
    I’ll have to give it a try for breakfast. Very easy to make.

    Donna Mae, this is indeed the same batter you’d use for Yorkshire pudding. And popovers. And probably pigs-in=blankets, too. And it is indeed easy! -PJH


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