I’ve mentioned before my love for all the agriculture in Virginia. During the fall, that means loads of apples. I’ve been scooping up different varieties at the farmers market the past few weeks, and we’re planning to go apple picking soon. It’s easy to get obsessed with pumpkin this time of year (says the person who was looking for pumpkin at the end of August), but apples definitely deserve a place in the fall spotlight.
This pancake is the epitome of a perfect fall breakfast. Warm apples, cooked in cinnamon and brown sugar, are enveloped in a batter that’s light and crisp at the edges and custardy in the center. The first time we made this, I was afraid the apples would turn mushy, but slicing them 1/2-inch thick prevents that from happening. You can use any variety of apples in this, but I especially like how tart apples balance out the sweetness of the pancake. It’s delicious on its own or sprinkled with a dusting of powdered sugar.
German Apple Pancake
*If you want to use a cast iron pan like we did, preheat the oven to 425º in the first step and only cook the apples for 6 minutes in the second step. Since cast iron retains heat so well, you don’t need the higher oven temperature or longer cooking time.
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon table salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup half-and-half
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/4 pounds Granny Smith or Braeburn apples (3 to 4 large apples), peeled, quartered, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
1/4 cup light or dark brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting
Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and preheat to 500º. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, granulated sugar and salt. In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, half and half and vanilla. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ones and whisk until no lumps remain, about 20 seconds. Set aside.
Heat butter until sizzling in a 10-inch ovenproof skillet set over medium-high heat. Add apples, brown sugar and cinnamon. Cook, stirring frequently, until the apples are golden brown, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice.
Working quickly, carefully pour batter around the edge of the pan, then over the center. Place skillet in oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 425º. Bake until the edges of the pancake are golden brown and puffy and have risen above the edge of the skillet, about 18 minutes.
Remove from oven and loosen edges with a rubber spatula. Invert onto a large plate or serving platter and dust with confectioners’ sugar. Cut into 4 wedges and serve immediately.
Source: Cook’s Illustrated, January/February 2003