german apple pancakes

American-style pancakes may be delicious, but they can also often be quite heavy, and you may find yourself (or at least I find myself) in need of a change. Even better, these German pancakes, unlike their American counterparts, are cooked primarily in the oven, and thus do not require you to stand over the stove flipping pancake after pancake. While these pancakes are baking away without requiring any attention from you, you can fry up some bacon and make the coffee to complete this leisurely weekend breakfast.

You start by sauteeing apples in butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon until they are soft, then pour in the pancake batter and transfer the pancake to a hot oven, where it puffs up and gets a little curly around the edges, as you can sort of see in the picture below. Some of those edges may look a bit burnt, but they are in fact caramelized and consequently the best part of the pancake, which is crispy on the edges, and custard-y in the middle. The original recipe recommends serving with caramel sauce or maple syrup, but I thought the pancake was perfect on its own. 

German Apple Pancakes

The original recipes directs you to cook the pancake in a 10-inch non-stick, oven safe skillet. I don’t own any such thing, and imagine that many people don’t have non-stick skillets that are also safe in a 500-degree oven. The recipe says that you can use a non-non-stick skillet…in other words, a skillet to which the pancake will stick, even if you use a cast-iron skillet that is supposed to have developed its own non-stick coating, as I did. It clearly isn’t yet non-stick enough, as my attempt to slide the pancake out ended with a messy heap of pancake bits and apples (which was still delicious!). If you don’t have any sort of skillet that can go into the oven, I’ve suggested a method that I think should work in the recipe below. Finally, the original recipe states that one pancake makes four servings, but I think that it serves two people more reasonably, unless you’re pairing it with a lot more food.

Makes 1 pancake, serves 2

Ingredients:

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon 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, peeled, cored, quartered, and cut into 1/2 inch-thick slices
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Directions:

Place an oven rack in upper-middle position and preheat oven to 500 F.

Whisk flour, granulated sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. In another medium bowl, add eggs, half-and-half, and vanilla, and whisk until combined. Pour liquid ingredients into dry ingredients and whisk just until all lumps are gone, about 20 seconds.

Melt butter in 10-inch ovensafe skillet over medium high heat (see note above for non-stick vs. regular skillets). Add apples, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Cook, stirring often, until apples are soft and golden brown, about 10 minutes. Turn off the heat, and stir in lemon juice.

Pour batter into skillet over apples. Put the skillet into the oven right away, and immediately turn the oven down to 425 F. Bake until pancake edges are browned, puffy, and rising above the edges of the skillet, about 18 minutes.

Remove skillet from oven and loosen pancake edges with a spatula. Invert pancake onto serving plate. Dust with powdered sugar, and serve.

Note:

If you don’t have a skillet you can put into the oven, start by cooking the apples in whatever skillet you have on the stove-top. After the apples have finished, transfer them to a cake pan (preferably non-stick). Heat the cake pan on the stove top until the apples start sizzling again, then turn off the heat, pour in the batter, and transfer to the oven. Follow the rest of the recipe from there.

Adapted from The Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook

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