Drama and simplicity: two words that most aptly describe this fun-filled pancake. I started research for this blogpost with the idea of expanding on my previous experiments with popovers. I continue to find popovers easy and delicious, but wanted to learn to make something even easier to make, bigger and easier to clean up after. David Eyre’s Pancake is pretty similar to a Dutch Baby, Yorkshire Pudding and popovers, but it was the historical context of the David Eyre’s Pancake that drew me to it. The recipe for this dish was published in 1966 in the New York Times by food columnist Craig Claiborn shortly after it was served to him at the home of his friend David Eyre in Honolulu. Apparently the New York Times publication of the recipe was quite popular.
When I think of the David Eyre’s Pancake it reminds me of dinner parties in the early eighties. It was a time when people still served heavy red meats without hesitation to their guests and a pancake like David Eyre’s could add an exotic flourish to an otherwise predictable spread. International cuisine, such as hummus or miso soup, had not yet appeared in the average household so a food like David Eyre’s Pancake could cause a stir. Since its premier in the paper in ’66, the New York Times ran articles on the recipe in 1985 and then via Amanda Hesser’s Food: Recipe Redux in 2007 w/ a sensational information graphic to go along with it! In addition, Amanda Hesser included the recipe in The Essential New York Times Cookbook, published in late 2010. Reportedly David Eyre himself said that after the recipe appeared in ’66 he was deluged with attention from strangers wanting to thank him for it. The 2007 article indicates that Mr. Claiborn mis-reported the amount of butter in the recipe. Below you will find the proportions I recommend, including even less butter than I think was supposed to be included.
RECIPE: David Eyre’s Pancake ala NYTimes w/ minor adaptations by Alexis
½ cup milk
½ cup flour
Pinch of ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons butter
confectioners sugar (optional)
Juice of half a lemon (optional)
Preheat the oven to 425. Heat the butter up in a cast iron skillet. Mix together the flour, milk and nutmeg, but don’t worry about making the batter totally smooth. This differs from a popover recipe, where you are told to add the flour slowly to make sure you have no lumps. Apparently it’s ok if the David Eyre’s Pancake has some lumps.
Pour the batter in to the skillet over the melted butter and put the skillet in to the oven. Bake for about 15 minutes until you achieve a golden brown color. My pancake started puffing up after just a few minutes and I almost took it out early, but I waited for the full 15 and the color grew more brown.
Here’s the most important part of preparing a David Eyre’s Pancake: make sure your audience is ready and waiting as soon as the pancake is ready to come out of the oven so they can witness the dramatic puffing. Place the pancake on the table and everyone can watch as it slowly deflates. Cut slices like a cake with a knife. I liked the pancake plain, but the original recipe recommends dusting it with confectioners sugar and adding a squeeze of lemon.
Besides being dramatic and simple, the David Eyre’s Pancake (aka popover, Dutch Baby or Yorkshire pudding) is also incredibly versatile. Inspired by a New York Times adaptation of the David Eyre Pancake that includes chicken, I experimented a little… I‘m pretty excited about this:
RECIPE: Curried Chicken Popovers
1 cup milk
1 tbsp melted butter
1 cup white flour
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 cup cooked chicken, chopped in to small pieces
1/2 cup raisins
1 tsp curry powder
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Prepare the popover batter (basically a David Eyre’s Pancake, just with half the butter added directly to the wet ingredients) as directed and add the nutmeg to the batter. Toss the chicken with the spices and raisins in a separate bowl. After the batter has been evenly distributed to the greased popover tins (muffin tins would probably be ok), drop equal amounts of the chicken-raisin mixture in to each tin, allowing it to sink a bit in to the batter. Cook for 15 minutes, then decrease the oven temp to 350 degrees and cook for 10 minutes. I was delighted with the result of this experiment and can’t wait to make it for guests. I think the options for added ingredients are limitless, so please let me know if you come up with any other good ideas!