Dutch Babies—those beautifully floofy, yeast-free, single-skillet dishes—actually enable you to sit down with your family or partner for breakfast, as opposed to high-maintenance pancakes. The endlessly customizable Dutch baby is a strong argument for saving time and serving something delicious, not to mention... they're mighty Instagram-able.
Photo: Getty Images/Kirk McKoy
| Credit: Getty Images/Kirk McKoy

Pancakes are some seriously Betty Draper territory.

Sure, it’s easy to whisk together the batter. But otherwise, pancakes are the high-maintenance, narcissistic louts of the breakfast world. They demand that you stand by the stove, spatula at hand, watching them hawkishly waiting for bubbles to pop so that you can lunge at them, flip them, and deliver them to your hungriest-looking family member. One cannot easily multi-task while making pancakes. If you burn one and try to hide it in someone’s stack, that person will know, and likely weep.

Don’t think that you get to sit down with a plate of pancakes, either. You get the last batch, or the minis you sneak while standing by the stove. Even my food writer hero, Ruth Reichl, suggests that you “rush the pancakes to the table as each one is finished,” lest you deliver a subpar specimen to a loved one. Pancakes: They’re divas.

You know what’s not a diva? A Dutch baby. Does it look impressive on Instagram? Yes. Is it easier than pie to execute? Heck, yes. Is it delicious? Good lord: It’s the love child of pancakes and a popover, all floofiness and tenderness—and yes, it is divine. You can pull one together in five minutes, using an immersion blender to blitz together eggs, flour, milk, and spices, throw the mixture into a hot-from-the-oven pan, and pop it into the oven.

And then—get this!—you walk away. Feed the baby. High-five your partner. Go work on your karaoke rendition of Van Halen’s “Dance the Night Away.” (Who knew it was in your range?)

More sensibly, I suppose one could fry eggs or a couple sausages, particularly if your partner becomes a hangry werewolf when her first meal doesn’t include protein. After about 15 minutes, start watching the oven. Pop on the light, and you can entertain small children (at a safe distance) for a good five to ten minutes once the rise starts. The Dutch baby will start huffing and puffing and look like it’s dancing as it rises. Expect the finished product to look somewhere between a close-up photo of the moon and a soufflé you’d order at a fancy French restaurant. Then shoo the kids away, Instagram the heck out of it before it starts to fall (which it will, fast), and slice it. I’d suggest making two if there are more than two of you, because although it looks gorgeous and you look like a hero, it will always fall, and you’ll likely feel like you need more food. (If you have two skillets and your oven is large enough, making two is no biggie at all!)

Some recipes call for a dusting of sugar, a handful of berries, or jam, and there’s no wrong move here, but I like this Epicurious recipe (minus the lemon sugar), served with good maple syrup, butter, and the satisfaction of having my life look straight-up perfect on social media.

When was the last time a pancake gave you all that?

Alex Van Buren is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @alexvanburen.