Dear Mr. Gold,

When I was growing up in the Midwest, I was very fond of what they used to call German pancakes or Dutch babies, puffy pancakes, as big as Mylar balloons, that were usually served with powdered sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice. It’s probably counterintuitive to yearn for Michigan food in the midst of California’s plenty, but I do miss those pancakes.

—Jill, Sherman Oaks


Dear Jill,

Dutch babies always make me think of my old friend Marion Cunningham, who has such a good recipe for them in The Breakfast Book, probably the most-abused cookbook in my kitchen. She didn’t originate the recipe, of course — the oven-baked pancakes, close to popovers, have been a staple for decades — but Marion is a breakfast genius, stripping away the accretions and encrustations recipes tend to pick up over the years, and reducing them to their delicious basics. It’s almost a miracle, the way that the thin, meager batter puddled on the bottom of a cast-iron pan inflates into an early-morning Astrodome. The chemistry of egg proteins is rich and complex.

Anyway, you could either pick up a copy of The Breakfast Book or try a slightly more detailed recipe, “Dutch Baby With Lemon Sugar,” from the current Gourmet.

And there’s always Dinah’s, the pancake house on that stretch of South Sepulveda right where it begins to climb toward the airport. The Dutch babies there, extravagantly buttered and powder sugared, are the size of satellite dishes.

Dinah’s: 6521 S. Sepulveda Blvd., L.A. (323) 645-0456

LA Weekly