Good morning, sunshines! Happy Saturday. Let’s talk about pancakes, and how you need to make this easy, magical dish sometime this weekend, maybe even now. If you’ve been up for a bit and want to get your day started, feel free to scroll down to the recipe below. But if you’ve just rolled out of bed and need a bit of time to adjust, please read on.
This, by the way, is what you have to look forward to:
But don’t take my word for it!
And now, the bit of introduction.
When I visited Edward Gorey’s house in Cape Cod, there was a wonderful exhibit on featuring his letters to Peter Neumayer, an author and editor with whom EG collaborated (producing, notably, the Donald books). What was most remarkable were the illustrated envelopes, a few of which I include below (from here and here):
Pretty incredible, right? Trust Edward Gorey to make envelopes works of art. You can read more about it in the book Floating Worlds, a testament to their correspondence, collaboration, and friendship.
But that’s not what I wanted to talk about. What I really wanted to talk about was the David Eyres, or David Dares pancake, a great puffed German (or Dutch baby, or clafoutis) pancake that is perfect for weekend breakfasts at home. I first encountered this as the “Mysterious David Dares Pancake” in Melissa Clark’s In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite (proof that you don’t need pictures in a cookbook to make it a keeper!). I immediately fell in love with the simple but also striking nature of the dish, which is why I was so tickled to see Edward Gorey write about it to Peter Neumayer, except here as “David Eyre’s Pancake”:
EG to PN. October 13, 1968. Sunday morning, 7:20ish. (FW. p.61.)
At this point I would like to hear sounds from the rest of the house, which I don’t, because we are having something called David Eyre’s Pancake for breakfast, whoever he may have been, but it has to be eaten right out of the oven, and obviously I cannot put in the oven until everyone is up and waiting. At the moment I am starving.
Curator’s note. A David Eyre’s pancake is a sweet, baked egg-and-flour dish named for writer and editor David W. Eyre (1912-2008).
As if Edward Gorey could get any more awesome, he happens to also be a pretty good cook (and one who insists on eating the pancake right out of the oven!) In one letter to PN, he notes that he’s made Alice B. Toklas’s boeuf bourguignon; in another, he notes his “general incompetence in the realm of real life, except for cooking.” You can see this interest reflected in some of his works, as so:
And of course:
Confusion over David Dares or Eyre’s aside (and the wonders of zabaglione, and the excesses of gin), this is one really excellent pancake. You probably have all the ingredients in your pantry already — eggs, milk, flour, butter. To me, that already makes this recipe a keeper. And while regular pancakes are fun to make with all the flipping and stacking, sometimes it’s really nice to have a fast, one-pan dish, especially one that dramatically puffs up in the oven. A bit of culinary wizardry to get the weekend started!
The David Eyre’s Pancake (courtesy of/adapted from Melissa Clark’s In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite)
- 3 large eggs (this makes it quite eggy, like clafoutis. I’ve done 2 eggs and it’s equally delicious, but just bake for slightly less time)
- 1/2 cup milk (I’ve done soy — it works!)
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg (good!)
- pinch of kosher salt
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp confectioners’ sugar (or granulated, or brown, or…)
- juice of half a lemon (or about 2 tbsp)
- (maybe a bit of vanilla extract? Note to self: try next time!)
Preheat the oven to 425 F.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and the milk, flour, nutmeg, and salt until combined. The mixture will still be lumpy.
In a 10-inch overproof skillet or cast-iron pan, melt the butter. Swirl it around so it covers the bottom of the pan, then pour in the batter and move skillet to the oven. Bake until the pancake is puffy and golden brown around the edges, about 15 min (or 10-12 if using 2 eggs).
Take the skillet out of the oven and quickly shake the sugar over the top. Return to oven and cook until the butter has been absorbed into the pancake and the sugar is lightly caramelized, about 2-3 more minutes. (Note: the sugar has never caramelized for me…maybe I’m doing something wrong?)
Spritz lemon juice over the pancake, cut into wedges, and serve immediately.