Sun Oven Sunday – German Pancakes Fail!

I decided to make what we call “German Pancakes”–I’m not sure what they’re actually called–on a whim last night for dinner but wound up with an utter failure. The recipe is super simple, combine 6 eggs, 1 cup milk, 1 cup flour and mix until it looks a bit like batter:

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Then bake at about 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 15-20 minutes in a greased 13×9 pan. Since I used a smaller 11×7 pan that fits in the sun oven, I used 4 eggs, 2/3 cup milk, and 2/3 cup flour. And because I wasn’t too worried about getting the temperature up to 400 degrees (I’ve never had it that high) I went ahead and put the mixture in at about 225 degrees expecting that it would warm up eventually:

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Unfortunately, the sun wasn’t cooperating the first 20 minutes and hid behind some clouds. Again, I did nothing but adjusted the angle of the sun oven to follow the sun’s movement and actually forgot about it until nearly an hour later! I was worried that I had overcooked it because of that but, regrettably, it still wasn’t cooked. It’s supposed to have risen and be puffy and NOT flat like cornbread:

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In fact, it was still gooey in the middle. I tried a bite but spit it out. I even offered to let others try but nobody accepted. Heck, I’m not sure the dog would eat this!

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As much as I would like to always show you successes in my personal prepping sometimes the failures are just as important. In this case, I think I need to pay more attention to the sky (are there any clouds?) and maybe let the sun oven heat up more when the foods I cook really need a higher temperature in order to cook correctly.

Author: Damian Brindle

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6 thoughts on “Sun Oven Sunday – German Pancakes Fail!”

  1. Hi Milleniumfly, I think the “pancake-cake” you are making might be similar to a Westphalian dish called “Kasten-Pickert”. It’s an oven-baked “thick pancake loaf” (“Kasten” =baking pan) that has lots of eggs like your original recipe (though the sweet kind of flat German pancake also often has many eggs in it, to coat the apple slices better).

    Hmm, can’t think of anything else where you would pour pancake batter into a baking dish to bake…?

    A “Pickert” is usually baked using (wild) yeast though, to let it rise some (otherwise that recipe would yield a wet brick…), and may even be based on some extra mashed potatoes holding it together and some raisins if available (a combo of sweet-savory flavor is preferred in Westphalia where it comes from, but can also be a plain flour based dish w/o potatoes or raisins. Often, buckwheat flour is used too).

    The Kastenpickert batter is then baked in a baking pan, but THEN you slice it and fry the slices in hot butter and eat with thick dark sugar beet syrup or molasses (yes, even the version with potato). Sorta like Italian polenta, the next day.

    Traditionally in Westphalia, we even eat potato pancakes with syrup (“Ruebenkraut”). πŸ™‚

    I have a newer cookbook that thinks that many of these simple Westphalian “3 ingredient” sweet/savory dishes (where grain, veggie, greens are combined with fruit and nuts in old-fashioned savory dishes, then baked or simmered for a long time) date back to iron age and are based in foraging luck. This stuff is “stick to your ribs” comfort food for a cold rainy day after hard work! Of course, that cooking style doesn’t assimilate so well in Southern AZ πŸ˜‰

  2. Forgot to mention: The recipe you had was fine, but you never pour the batter all at once into the frying pan (it’s not an omelet…), but you rather just put a little each time with a ladle, then quickly spread it with a heatproof spatula until it covers the pan bottom entirely. Fry until browned on one side, then flip and repeat. (So it’s not a sit-down meal for the one in charge of the cooking, as they have to be eaten when fresh out of the pan…)
    Voila, you end it with proper, thin, crispy, big flat tortilla-sized rounds. Good luck next time….

  3. No wonder you didn’t like them- wrong technique πŸ˜‰
    They are supposed to be fried (NOT “baked”), in a heavy cast iron pan, in either some hot bacon fat, or butter (the sweet kind, e.g with apple slices in the batter) until crisp and browned, so I am afraid this is a no-go recipe for a solar oven….
    Real “German pancakes” are similar to French crepes, only heartier. They are very thin (never “fluffy”- no baking soda, ever!), whole-pan sized, crispy when straight out of the pan, and eaten as a main course, never ever for breakfast.

    In Northern Germany, the salty kind of German pancake (often fried with imbedded browned bacon strips, yum) is eaten with a green salad in a sweet-sour vinaigrette dressing, piled on top. Or you can fill them with a savory filling and roll them up (then they become “Polish pancakes”). The sweet kind with apple slices gets a sprinkling of cinnamon sugar and is eaten as a sweet lunch. You can also put some jam on top. The Austrians fry their pancakes until beginning to brown but not quite crisp, then they tear it up with a fork and sprinkle the pieces with vanilla sugar (“Kaiserschmarrn”, aka the Emperor’s delight). So you could still take the whole lot, brown it in butter, and eat it sprinkled with sugar… Only brown it!

    Maybe the confusion results from the fact that in the German language (Amish cookbook?), making pancakes is often is referred to as “baking pancakes” yet it is just an idiom that really means “to fry in a pan”. I was born and raised in Germany and grew up cooking traditional German dishes. πŸ™‚

    1. That sounds pretty tasty, Medea. I’m might have to give this recipe a try one day but what I was making in my sun oven is the same recipe I’ve made many dozens of times in a typical oven… so maybe they’re not supposed to be real German pancakes but some variation. Thanks for the thoughts, I do appreciate them!

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