We want our children to know their ancestors and where they came from. To do this we are trying to incorporate more family traditions into our family celebrations of all kinds. We have researched our ancestry for years and are now looking for fun activities to do to help us remember who they were and where they came from.
Part of my wife's family come from Germany, so on Christmas morning we make German Oven Pancakes. They are popular through the entire holiday season and are fun to make.
They like to grow when cooking and the kids love to watch them grow, heck it's fun for all of us to see the weird shapes that grow up out of the batter as they cook.
Step 1: Ingredients & Implements
For these pancakes you will need:
- 2 - 9" round pie/cake pans, or oven safe skillet, or cast iron skillets, or one large oven safe or cast iron skillet.
- mixing bowl
- measuring cups (wet & dry)
- measuring spoons
- 3 eggs
- .5 cup milk
- .5 all-purpose flour
- 2 tbsp butter or margarine
- pinch of salt
If you use egg substitute or wheat or gluten-free flour you won't get the same rise when they cook due to the lack of proteins and gluten that makes them rise. However, if you have a new convection oven they can really rise big. You will have to test your particular kitchen setup to see how they turn out.
This recipe can feed 2 - 4 people. If you have some other sides (like the greatest side ever BACON!) to go with these or really add on the toppings at the end then this can feed 4. If the pancake is the main event and you don't stack on the toppings then this will feed 2 people.
The total batter is about the same as a 3 egg omelet, with a half cup of flour instead of cheese and veges. If you can easily put away a 3 egg omelet then one of these while be no problem. I have a couple nephews who could down two of these with toppings and sides.
Step 2: Get the Oven & Pans Ready
First, lower the rack to the lowest height setting, remove the other rack. You may be able to use the second lowest rack height if you are using 2 pans, but test it first with only one at the lowest to see how tall your pancakes rise. You can really get some impressive rise out of a single pan so you need to use the lowest rack height, until you know how it will work in your kitchen.
*It is important to do this first because a hot rack is harder to remove. Well it's not that it's hard to remove, it is hard to find a place to put it once it's hot.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (U.S.).
Place 1 tablespoon of the butter or margarine in each pan. If you use a single large skillet then place both tablespoons in the one skillet. Place the pan in the oven to melt the butter and preheat the pan.
Step 3: Mix the Ingredients & Check the Pan(s)
Mix the .5 cup of milk, .5 cup flour, and the 3 eggs in a bowl. Whisk it all together. More whisking gets more bubbles in the batter and makes the pancake lighter and fluffier. They still fluff up during cooking but you can really get it fluffy this way.
Get your oven mitt or glove. (I have the awesome invention of the ove-glove thanks to dad and his love of new home gadgets. If he likes it he gets one for all his kids.)
By now the butter should be melted, remove the pans and make sure the butter covers the bottom and part way up the sides. Hold the pan by the edge and tip it back and forth to cover the bottom and part of the sides. As you practice you can get a nifty rolling motion down that gets the bottom covered and the sides covered without spilling in one motion.
Step 4: Pour the Batter & in the Oven
Pour half the batter in the center of each pan, if you are using the two 9" pans, or all of it in the large pan. Let the batter spread on it's own which will push the melted butter to the edges. When I was first doing this I just poured back and forth or in a spiral which pushed the butter into little pockets or lines. They really rose in strange patterns this way, they do a bit anyway, but with the butter at the edges you have a better chance of getting it to raise around the edge in a cool bowl shape which is what you are hoping for.
I'm also an "about that much" cook. If it looks about right as far as measuring goes I'm good. Most recipes are more of a suggestion than a hard rule. So my tablespoon of butter may be anywhere from .9 to 1.5 tablespoon, a cup may be a little more or less. Which may also account for the differences in outcomes. Makes it hard to tell my wife or kids how much of any ingredient I use any one dish.
Place them in the heated oven and set your timer for 10-13 minutes. I set mine for 10 minutes then check on them to see how close they are then add a few more minutes as needed.
*I did a single large skillet once without lowering the oven rack, since I was used to the height these would rise with two pans. The pancake began to rise perfectly around the edges. It was a thing of beauty. It continued to rise, and rise, and rise until it hit the top element and started to burn. Of course everything looked great and worked perfectly this time, until the fire started.
Step 5: Get'em Out & Add Toppings
Take them out when they are starting to turn golden on the high parts. If you are lucky enough to get the cool bowl shape you are awesome. Mine tend to be more hit and miss if I get anything like a bowl shape. I feel lucky if I get a series of bumps around the edges, rather than random bumps all over.
I have seen many different toppings used for these. Simple syrup is good, but you can really have fun with your toppings as well.
- Fresh berries & whip cream. (my fav - blue/black berries)
- Bananas & pineapple sprinkled with brown sugar, & a dollop of sour cream.
- Greek yogurt & berry syrup. (wife's fav)
- Dusted with powdered sugar - do immediately when it comes out of the oven
- Pie fillings (apple, cherry, peach, berry)
- Puddling and fruit.
- Basically anything you use on pancakes, waffles, or crêpes will work. Get creative.
Step 6: Enjoy!
Enjoy these fun to make and watch German Oven Pancakes. My kids oven to make them, watch them, and especially eat them. It is a fun activity and fits with our family traditions. We have this recipe in our Christmas advent book as something we want to remember and pass on to our kids and their kids.
You don't have to be German or a descendant to enjoy these delicious and fun pancakes. Make some up, let the kids watch them "grow", and enjoy how good they taste.
Doing these activities with my family have been really fun and has added to our understanding of our ancestors. I encourage you to find out and include great traditions in your life that can help you connect with your past. The looking can be as much fun as the discovery.
I hope you had a Merry Christmas and have a Happy New Year.