Big Little Recipes

A Pancake for When I'm Too Lazy to Make Pancakes

The batter comes together in one bowl with just a few ingredients.

October 12, 2021

A Big Little Recipe has the smallest-possible ingredient list and big everything else: flavor, creativity, wow factor. That means five ingredients or fewer—not including water, salt, black pepper, and certain fats (like oil and butter), since we're guessing you have those covered. This month, we’re sharing sneak peeks from the Big Little Recipes cookbook, all revving up to its release on November 9 (blasts airhorn, throws confetti in the air).

The hardest part about buttermilk pancakes is standing at the stove. Dolloping, waiting, flipping, waiting, again, again, again. The good news is: If you skip a few ingredients, you can also skip this step.

Today, you won’t need sugar, buttermilk, baking powder, or baking soda. In fact, you won’t need all-purpose flour either. We’re making a totally whole-grain pancake—yep, just one—to feed two people. And it’s just as suited for a sleepy brunch as it is a speedy dinner.

You might recognize this recipe as a Dutch baby. It also goes by Bismarck, German pancake, and, my favorite, puff pancake. Inspired by German pfannkuchen, the Dutch baby as we know it “is commonly ascribed to Manca’s Cafe, a Seattle restaurant that existed in the early 20th century,” according to Eater. Similar to a popover or Yorkshire pudding, this pancake bakes instead of pan-fries, going into the oven as a suspiciously thin batter, and coming out as—whoa.

Photo by James Ransom

Like a soufflé, the dramatic poof is all thanks to eggs. These make up the bulk of our puff pancake, giving it structure and lift and flavor. And bonus: Because we’re already using eggs in the batter, why not fry up a couple more and throw them on as a hearty topping?

Many Dutch baby recipes turn to milk as the liquid. But substituting crème fraîche brings a few big perks. Tangy and buttery, this ingredient adds depth and richness to the batter—and, when thinned with a splash of water, acts much like milk. Another bonus: More crème fraîche becomes the world’s most glorious pancake topping. (If you can’t find, sour cream is a great understudy.)

Because the eggs and dairy are already doing so much hard work, flour isn’t as important as it is in other baking recipes. This is a good thing. Because while doing a one-to-one swap of all-purpose to whole-grain in, say, a pound cake wouldn’t go well (don’t do it), in a puff pancake, which needs such a small quantity of flour, anything goes. That means we can use all rye flour and not have to dilute its nutty, malty flavor.

To go with the sunny eggs and creamy swirls on top, I like to sauté some ruffly kale until it relaxes, becoming silky and supple. But no one puts puff pancake in a corner. With a crispy, brown-buttery crust and fluffy, tender middle, it gets along with everyone. Swap out kale for another sautéed vegetable, like spinach, scallions, or mushrooms. Or go rogue with bacon or prosciutto, or smoked salmon or trout.

What’s most important is that you do something fun while the pancake bakes in the oven for 20-something minutes. Tell me, what strikes your fancy? Shall we turn on some tunes and dance?

Snag a copy of the Big Little Recipes cookbook in our Shop, or a slew of other places, like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million,, Hudson Booksellers, IndieBound, Powell's, or Target.

This post contains products independently chosen (and loved) by our editors and writers. As an Amazon Associate and Skimlinks affiliate, Food52 earns an affiliate commission on qualifying purchases of the products we link to.

Preorder now

Put down those long grocery lists. Inspired by the award-winning column, our upcoming Big Little Recipes cookbook is minimalism at its best: few ingredients, tons of flavor.

Preorder now

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • David
  • rebeccab
  • Arthur J Goldman
    Arthur J Goldman
  • Matt
  • Emma Laperruque
    Emma Laperruque
Emma is the food editor at Food52. Before this, she worked a lot of odd jobs, all at the same time. Think: stir-frying noodles on the fly, baking dozens of pastries at 3 a.m., and writing about the history of pie in North Carolina. Now she lives in New Jersey with her husband and their cat, Butter. Stay tuned every Tuesday for Emma's award-winning column, Big Little Recipes (also the cookbook in November 2021!). And see what she's up to on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.


David October 17, 2021
Nothing new here, I have been making versions of this for years, I use blueberries and lemon rind in the spring and summer and an apples with apple pie spice in the fall. I use better milk instead of creme fraiche. Also I have tried a dinner version with salami and cherry tomatoes, still working out the kinks.
rebeccab October 16, 2021
It's under the delicious looking eggs.
Arthur J. October 15, 2021
I hope your new cookbook does well! I’ve preordered mine and am trying not to be impatient. Emma, thanks for sharing your beautiful vision of food!
Author Comment
Emma L. October 18, 2021
Thank you so much, Arthur—hope you enjoy cooking and baking from it!
Matt October 12, 2021
Maybe I'm missing something. Where's the pancake?
Stacey October 15, 2021
The pancake recipe is above the “fixings” recipe. It says “Puff Pancake”.