Amanda & Merrill

UPDATE David Eyre's Pancake: 1966

by:
January  2, 2011

David Eyre's Pancake

- Amanda

A few days after publishing this post, I received a note from Conard Eyre, David Eyre's daughter. She has given me permission to share it with you:

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Aloha Amanda,

My name is Conard Eyre, I am the daughter of David Eyre!! A friend sent me your blog with Daddy's pancake, and I am feeling very wistful, reading all the touching, meaningful and precious remarks. As you can imagine, the pancake had a very special place at our family table, and made my Daddy's creation a household name. I have amazing stories, of how he traded the recipe with Craig, for a week in NYC in Craig's Greenwich Village Apt., how, when early engaged and visiting my husband's stuffy NY friends for Easter weekend in Rumson NJ, the pancake recipe appeared full color and all. I was a long way from home, but that day, I was a Hawaiian princess!!

On a very personal note, in 2008, Daddy, at the ripe age of 96, (with all his marbles, but a desire to move on to the heavenly kitchen in the sky,) simply decided to stop eating. We supported him all the way, and prepared his "last supper", naturally, it was the pancake. It got a thumbs-up, and was perfection..

His joy spending time in the kitchen was addictive, and my inherited love of cooking became my profession. I have had my own catering company since 1974. Craig's recipe has taken on a life of it's own in my family, and I would love to connect with you.

Aloha, Conard Eyre

And here is my previous post:

Each week, over the next few weeks, I'll feature recipes from different eras that appear in The Essential New York Times Cookbook.

Craig Claiborne described making the acquaintance of this oven-baked pancake, "in the handsome, Japanese-style home of the David Eyres in Honolulu," as if he had met Grace Kelly. “With Diamond Head in the distance, a brilliant, palm-ringed sea below and this delicately flavored pancake before us, we seemed to have achieved paradise.”

Life was good if you were a food writer in the 1960s. Mistakes (Claiborne doubled the butter in his recipe) passed without a public shaming in the paper's corrections column or the blogosphere. A few weeks later, he simply mentioned airily, "The food editor was in such reverie on this return from Hawaii he did not notice the gremlins in his measuring spoons.”

Forty years later, readers are still making the pancake with no less bliss. It appears on a dozen blogs, embellished with family stories and photos and new-and-improved versions of the recipe. (Eyre, by the way, said he got his from the “St. Francis Hotel Cookbook” published in 1919, but his calls for more flour and egg. Both belong to a family of oven-baked pancakes sometimes called either German pancakes or Dutch babies.)

What keeps cooks faithful to one recipe is often some confluence of ease and surprise. Eyre’s pancake possesses both. A batter of flour, milk, eggs, and nutmeg is blended together, then poured into a hot skillet filled with butter and baked. Anyone confused? I didn’t think so.

The surprise comes at the end, when you open the oven door to find a poufy, toasted, utterly delectable-looking pancake. It soon collapses as you shower it with confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice, slice it up and devour it. It’s sweet and tart, not quite a pancake and not quite a crepe. But lovable all the same.

Readers:

“So many of us eat essentially the same foods, over and over, each day for breakfast. It was for me, a young man in my first apartment, a revelation when Craig Claiborne introduced a Breakfast Pancake on April 10, 1966. I still have the page out of the magazine I tore out and saved. I have prepared his recipe at least 500 times since, first in a cast iron skillet and in recent years in a paella pan. Being impatient, 20 minutes was too long to wait for it to bake, so I have inched up the temperature over the years and enjoy a pancake that creeps up over the edge of the pan and browns along the edges in less than 10 minutes of baking. His original recipe calls for sprinkling lemon juice and powdered sugar on the baked pancake but up here in the north woods, maple syrup is the finishing touch. Sometimes I sauté thin apple slices sprinkled with a bit of sugar before pouring the batter in the pan for a variation on the original recipe.” - Roland Krause, Harbor Springs, MI, letter.

“Surely a golden thread through my life… My memory is of jumping up and making it then and there. Once I passed through Honolulu and phoned David Eyre, the address blazed from the directory: no. 1 Diamond Head Drive. When I thanked him for all the lovely Sunday mornings he remarked that I wasn’t the first to call, either. Later, I moved to Indonesia where Sundays were so different from L.A.; without even noticing I forgot both pancake and recipe. Years later, a friend sent me a copy of a cooking magazine with recipes from readers. A woman from the Midwest sent an “oven pancake” which she said had a man’s name but she never learned it. There it was and I felt that golden thread connecting my two lives, then (L.A.) and now (Jakarta).” - Loura White, letter.

Cooking Notes:

Don’t overmix the batter, or the pancake will be tough – a few lumps are fine.

This is the moment to call your well-seasoned iron skillet into service.

1966: David Eyre’s Pancake

Serves 2 to 4

  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 4 tablespoons (one half stick) of unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
  • Juice of half a lemon

1. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Combine the flour, milk, eggs, and nutmeg in a bowl. Beat lightly. Leave the batter a little lumpy.

2. Melt the butter in a 12-inch skillet with a heatproof handle. When it is very hot, pour in the batter. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the pancake is golden brown.

3. Sprinkle with the sugar and return briefly to the oven. Sprinkle with lemon juice, and serve with jelly, jam, or marmalade.

Footnote: April 10, 1966: “Pancake Nonpareil” by Craig Claiborne. Recipe adapted from David Eyre.

 

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82 Comments

Jack F. January 3, 2016
This is actually the classic Finnish Kropsua or Pannukakku and Finns have been making it for a thousand years and more. Don't use the recipes that call for equal milk and flour, increase the milk.
 
Kerstin March 14, 2014
Does it really rise up the sides of the pan like this? I made it last night and it was delicious and bubbly, but it stayed at the bottom of the pan and was quite thick. Do you swirl the batter around before baking it?<br />All in all very easy and quick, super enjoyable and versatile recipe, thank you!
 
Amanda H. March 14, 2014
It does! I'm mystified because I've never had a problem with it not rising up the sides of the pan. Was your oven fully heated before putting in the pan? That's the only reason I can think of that it wouldn't rise up the sides.
 
Joanne L. February 10, 2012
Last week my daughter called me for the recipe for what we lovingly called "The Big Fat Pancake" in our house. I remember the day when my mother and I found the recipe in the New York Times. We tried it right away and were hooked. Through some errors, I learned that if you want to double the recipe, bake it in 2 pans (I use cast iron skillets.) We love it with lemon and confectioner's sugar--nothing else. And, each one doesn't serve more than 2 people. I guess we're big eaters.
 
Pauline G. December 29, 2011
Amanda, I just saw the comment you left on my "Big Pancake" Blogher post (not sure when you left it) so I zipped right on over here. i love getting more backstory on the mastermind behind the Big Pancake. I will have to share it with my kids, who clamor for this delicacy every weekend. Thank you for introducing me -- and loads of others -- to this fabulous concoction. I love your site, btw, and will be visiting for recipe ideas! Best, Pauline
 
Amanda H. December 29, 2011
Hi Pauline, thanks for stopping by -- hope to see you here more often!
 
Annerw December 10, 2011
I made this often for our family. My husband and I were not married until 1967 so I don't think we saw the original post but my recollection is that sometime in the 70's (perhaps when cc was retiring)?) it was reprised as a most requested recipe. We called it puff pancake in our family to distinguish it from "flat pancakes". <br />Thanks for the memories.
 
Amanda H. December 10, 2011
Glad you rediscovered it here!
 
vera A. May 21, 2011
I have had this recipe in one of my hand written cook books and never tried it for some reason..Now I have a reason. Thank you for posting a classic.
 
Amanda H. May 30, 2011
You're welcome -- hope you'll give it a try. It's a great recipe!
 
Emiko April 25, 2011
I love this - the story, the letter, the history and the recipe itself. It's right up my alley and I can't wait to try it out!
 
YumMom January 9, 2011
My mom made these when we were growing up in the 70s. She called them Bismarcks. So delicious. Just made the Eyre recipe this morning, and even though I used half the butter called for in the pan, it was delicious!
 
mcs3000 January 4, 2011
Conard Eyre's note is beautiful to read. It's so nice she let you share it with us.
 
Rhonda35 January 3, 2011
@reatta - If you look under the first picture for the slideshow, there is an orange "share" symbol and next to that is a printer icon. If you click on that, it gives you a print-ready version of the recipe without all the photos.
 
betteirene January 3, 2011
This is one recipe that I haven't tweaked. I'm too afraid that if I change it, it will be for the worse. How cool is the Internet! What would Craig Claiborne/Pierre Franey have done with it?
 
WinnieAb January 3, 2011
Aw, what a sweet letter. And as I've mentioned before, this recipe has become my family's fav weekend bfast...so easy and tasty. We all love it.
 
raetta January 3, 2011
loved your recipe for pancakes and will make them this week, however i did not like getting 5 pages of pics with recipe, to much ink to waste. did i do something wrong in printing it. thanks rae thomson
 
Amanda H. January 3, 2011
Didn't realize it would print the entire slideshow -- sorry about that. I've forwarded this to our tech team to look into. Thanks for letting me know!
 
Rhonda35 January 3, 2011
See my reply regarding your printer issue above.
 
Soozll January 3, 2011
Happy New Year! How cool to get a note from David Eyer's daughter! I hope you scrapebook all the notes from recipe originators to keep with your copy of the Cookbook for posterity sake. What an historic addendum it would make. I only made a similar recipe in the past year and fell in love with it. I love it as a dessert; quick to make, not too sweet and with a lot of possibilities for garnishing it. I must give this version a try. Thanks for the update to the original posting of this recipe.
 
Kitchen B. January 3, 2011
How fantastic - and what a small world this is. Thanks for sharing the update with us. I still have to make it :-). Have a great 2011 everyone
 
lastnightsdinner January 2, 2011
This is so, so wonderful. Thank you for sharing this with us, Amanda - you must have just been bursting when you received this note!
 
Greenstuff January 2, 2011
Good heavens! This was a family classic for us as well, but I hadn't had it in years until last week. I didn't trust my popover pans not to stick, so I thought I'd go back to this old favorite. We sometimes had it with the powdered sugar, sometimes with the apples that others seem to like. But usually, we ate it with lingonberries, and that's what we did last week. I'm off to search and see if I can find an original clipping.
 
Amanda H. January 2, 2011
Hello all, and happy New Year! Please check out the updated blog post, with a letter from David Eyre's daughter, Conard!
 
drbabs January 2, 2011
Dear Amanda, HOW sweet! Thank you so much for sharing this!
 
mrslarkin January 2, 2011
That was very special! Thanks for sharing it with us, Amanda.
 
alexa_van_de_walle November 3, 2010
Amanda, <br />Inspired by your new book, my mother handed over three recipe scrapbooks to me earlier this week for me to "borrow". I've poured over them, called her several times, done a lot of google research and reminisced intensely about meals she cooked in the early 60s and 70s and how important those ingredients, flavors, smells and recipes are to who I am. The books are falling apart but the "food memories" of my childhood are like yesterday. Last night, she asked "do you remember the David Eyre pancakes". Huh, I asked? Reading over the ingredients list (and finding the Claiborne recipe from 1966 of the delicious pancake covered in sugar and lemon in her scrapbook) brought me back to when I was a child -- loved that oven baked pancake and anything lemony. Thank you so much for your new book and more importantly for opening up a wealth of recipes Mom (and her Mom) handed down to me (mostly NY Times recipes I'll add, mostly Claiborne, Beard). From, a fellow food writer (www.lightheartedlocavore.com), and fan of yours, Lexi Van de Walle....
 
Amanda H. November 28, 2010
Lexi, thank you so much for your note! It's amazing how many people loved that pancake. Hope you'll find some new favorites in the book. (And if you do, let me know!). - A
 
midnitechef November 1, 2010
This looks like a great campfire treat!
 
Amanda H. November 28, 2010
Indeed.