Written by Alan Zox Friday, 28 December 2012 00:00
When it comes to culinary delights, some are more worthwhile to remember than others. Amanda Hesser, author of The Essential New York Times Cookbook, reminds us of the oven-baked David Eyres Pancake which, at more than 50 years old, is no less delicately appetizing than ever. Craig Claiborne first wrote about the Pancake in his New York Times food column upon returning from a trip to Hawaii in 1966. Imagine the islands in those days: the coral reefs were still alive and Waikiki was considered the jewel of the Pacific.
Claiborne tells us: “[The Pancake] was discovered some weeks ago at an informal Sunday brunch in the handsome, Japanese-style home of David Eyres in Honolulu. 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.”
Not unlike a sweet yet tart Yorkshire pudding, or a popover, the pancake is sublimely simple yet surprisingly elegant. It includes merely a batter of flour, milk, eggs and nutmeg all mixed together, then poured into a hot pan filled with butter for baking. After 15 minutes—voila. You open the oven door to find a puffed-up looking pancake, which soon collapses as confectioner’s sugar and lemon juice are sprinkled atop. The sweet tart flavor is warm and delicious–nostalgia in the making. Slice and share with everyone nearby.
I am reminded of the pancake every holiday season because it is such an ideally festive dish, perfect for a friends ‘n’ family brunch on New Year’s Day, or as a tasty treat to savor after opening gifts on Christmas morning. I like it with smoked bacon on the side, freshly squeezed OJ, and coffee. It’s become a tradition worth its richly deserved place in our memory banks. History never tasted so good.
This recipe appeared in a New York Times article by Craig Claiborne in 1966.
½ cup of flour
½ cup milk
Pinch of ground nutmeg
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
Juice of half a lemon
Fig or blackberry jam, pear butter of any kind of marmalade, for serving. (Optional)
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. In a mixing bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Add the flour, milk and nutmeg and lightly beat until blended but still slightly lumpy. Melt the butter in a 12-inch skillet with a heatproof handle over medium-high heat. When very hot but not brown, pour in the batter. Bake in the oven until the pancake expands on the edges and is golden brown, about 15 minutes.
Working quickly, remove the pan from the oven and, using a fine-meshed sieve, sprinkle with the sugar. Return to the oven for 1 to 2 minutes more. Sprinkle with lemon juice and serve with jam, pear butter or marmalade.