This is the third time I’ve tried to photograph this so I could blog about it. The first time was over a year ago when I didn’t know how to use my hand-me-down point-and-shoot camera. The photos are either yellow or they’re unevenly lit, and there’s a bunch of distracting stuff in the background. The next set has good lighting, but it just looks like powdered sugar dusted over…something. Who knew that a German apple pancake would be so hard to photograph?
I used to order this in restaurants, back before I knew how easy it was to make at home. There’s nothing more to it than sautéing apples with sugar and cinnamon, pouring batter into the pan, and baking everything. The only challenge is inverting the whole thing onto a platter, but I just aim for “rustic” so I don’t have to worry about it looking perfect.
I’ve combined my favorite parts of two recipes to get one that was perfect for me. My mom gave me a recipe a few years ago, that, as is typical for recipes I get from my mom, is missing an important ingredient from the ingredient list – apples. Regardless, it is the apple portion that I like best from her recipe. There’s enough butter so that they’re not sticky, but not so much that they’re greasy.
For the batter, my mom’s recipe calls for the eggs to be separated and the whites to be beaten to stiff peaks, then folded into the remaining ingredients. I don’t really like the resulting spongy texture. Instead, I mix all of the ingredients in the blender. The resulting pancake is dense and even-textured, with enough flavor to support the apples without overpowering them.
When my mom makes her recipe, she arranges the cooked apple slices in a pretty pattern in the skillet before topping them with the batter. When she inverts the cooked pancake, the pattern is retained. I tried it once, but I couldn’t see the arrangement of apple slices, especially after a dusting of powdered sugar, I guess because of the different batter I use, so I don’t bother arranging them now.
So maybe this isn’t the most impressive-looking breakfast ever. But believe me that the taste makes up for the looks entirely. It’s sweet but not overbearing, and the batter supports the apple filling perfectly. Plus, there’s an apple per person, so I like to convince myself that it’s sort of healthy.
One year ago: Macaroni and Cheese – Yum. Love this stuff.
German Apple Pancake
I don’t worry too much about what kind of apple I use for this. McIntosh is probably a bad choice, since they’re so soft, but anything else seems like it would be okay. I usually use Empire.
I was a little uncertain about putting a nonstick skillet in the oven at first. But, I took the plunge and haven’t had any problems. You could try wrapping the handle (that’s the part that is least likely to be heat safe) in foil, or, if you’re very concerned, transfer the apple mixture to a greased pie pan before adding the batter and baking everything.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 apples, peeled, cored and sliced (see note)
2 large eggs
¾ cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon salt, plus a pinch
½ cup (2½ ounces) flour
1. Heat oven to 400C.
2. Melt butter in a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add brown sugar, cinnamon and a pinch of salt; stir. Once the dry ingredients are incorporated in the butter, add the apples and spread them into a single later. Cook without stirring until the apples begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the apples are completely soft and maybe even a little caramelized.
3. Meanwhile, place all remaining ingredients except flour in blender and process until mixed, about 15 seconds, wiping down sides if necessary. Add flour and continue processing until it’s incorporated and the mixture is smooth.
4. Pour the batter evenly over the apples. Place the skillet in the oven and bake until pancake is firm and puffed, about 10 minutes. Invert onto plate, dust with powdered sugar, and serve.