I’m 9 years old, it’s the first Christmas in our new house in Lynnwood, WA, the house I would do 90% of my “growing up” in. Up until this Christmas, my family and I have lived in multiple 2 bedroom apartments well under 1,000 sq feet, now we’re in a 2,200 sq foot split level. For the first time, I had a bedroom that wasn’t partly my dad’s office, we barely had enough furniture to fill the upstairs part of the house and nothing in the basement (yet). The living room had a vaulted ceiling so for the first time ever we were going to have a tree that was taller than 4 feet, and the perfect tree was in our own back yard. like our furniture, we had almost enough ornaments to cover the tree, and we had less and less every time that damn tree would fall down, once on me while I was vacuuming around it. Still, it was memorable because it was the start of our Christmas traditions. I’d wake up then wake up my parents we’d open stocking and presents, my dad and I (really my dad) would clean up the mess while my mom made puff pancakes and cheddar smokies, then my grandparents, a couple of family members (Christmas eve was our big family get together), friends, and whoever didn’t have a place to go would come over for Christmas dinner. I’ve always called it “The Island of Misfit Toys” dinner. Now all grown up and with my own kids, and traditions a couple of things have never changed, we still invite friends and family who don’t have family around for our “Island of Misfit Toys” dinner and I still make puff pancakes for breakfast.
I don’t know when or why I started calling them “puff pancakes” I’ve even seen them called German Puff Pancakes, but growing up we called them dutch babies. Whatever you call them you’d assume they’re a European delicacy brought to America in the minds or in a family cookbook of someone on a ship over the Atlantic, but you’d assume wrong. Dutch Babies are as German as German chocolate cake (which isn’t german at all), in fact, they were created in of all places Seattle by german immigrants in the 1940’s. Maybe that’s where my family picked up the tradition, Ballard, where my grandparents grew up, was a melting pot of melting pots of Swedes, Nords, and Germans.
I can only assume (but have never asked) that my grandmother would make these for Christmas when my mom and her siblings were growing up because we weren’t the only ones in the family that would have puff pancakes for breakfast. But I do know that we were the only ones that would have cheddar smokies, and trust me this is a MUST not Lil smokies cheddar smokies. I know these seem like a lot of work especially Christmas morning but trust me they’re not. I make the batter the day before and the smokies take minutes to heat up, the most time-consuming thing is to make the lemon glaze for drizzling which is 2 ingredients. Trust me you can manage and it’s so worth it.
- 4 Eggs
- 2/3 cup Whole Milk
- 2/3 cup AP Flour
- pinch Salt
- 2 tablespoons Butter
- 1/4c fresh squeezed Lemon Juice, about 2 lemons
- 1 cup Powdered Sugar, more for dusting
- Preheat your oven and cast iron pan in a 400˚ oven.
- Place eggs, flour, milk, and salt into a blender and mix together until fully combined. Then place in the fridge until the oven is ready. This could also be done the day before, the colder the batter the better the lift of the pancake.
- While the oven is warming squeeze lemons making sure there are no seeds, add the powdered sugar and mix until it a nice glaze, there shouldn't be lumps and should be transparent-white. I like mine lemony so you can adjust to your liking.
- Once the oven and pan is ready remove the pan and add the butter, swirling it around making sure that it's covering the sides and bottom. Pour the batter right in the middle of the pan and place right back into the oven. You don't want to pan to cool down much so do this as quickly as you feel comfortable.
- Bake for 20 minutes or until the pancake is puffed and lightly browned, trying to keep the kids away with their stomping running feet and fight that urge to open the oven to check. Both will deflate the pancake too early. This is also a good time to warm up the cheddar smokies.
- Once puffed and brown remove from the oven, it will start to deflate the second it's removed from the oven, cover with glaze and garnish with more powdered sugar. Keeping some of the glaze for others to add as much as they'd like. I usually cut this into 4ths for my family but sometimes I just don't want to share, so it's up to you what the serving size of this is.