Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Apple Skillet Pancake

These pancakes were the perfect antidote to breakfast boredom. After a week of mango smoothies every morning, I was more than ready for a change of menu. Not that I'm swearing off smoothies, oh no, just not every day. RL was all in favor of something different too, anything different, just nothing "weirdly different", please. We do have wildly different ideas of what's suitable for breakfast.

Caramelized apples sounded tempting, and that brought Tarte Tatin to mind, but only briefly. Pastry dough seemed like too much effort for a weekday breakfast. Almost-caramelized apple pancakes would be close enough, and how hard could that be? 

I skimmed through several recipes, gathered up the common ingredients, rejecting some suggested items and substituting others and charged ahead. Yogurt? mmmmm, not today. All milk? no, I wanted to incorporate some vanilla soy milk. Salt? no, I used salted butter instead. And so it went, an experiment that turned out better than I could have hoped. 

With too much batter or too small a skillet for one giant pancake, I decided to make two of medium size. One pancake baked in a cast iron skillet, the other in a Circulon nonstick skillet. Both cooked in the same amount of time, both released from the pan easily, but they looked quite different. The cast iron skillet pancake had a sunken center and the nonstick pan pancake puffed up. Hmmm, something to ponder.

Next time I might use fewer eggs, add some lemon zest and skip the nutmeg, etc. But for certain, we're going to enjoy Apple Skillet Pancakes again. They are now family favorites and would be a good choice for an easy-to-prepare breakfast to serve overnight guests. 

The top of the baked pancake  is attractive with apple slices peeking out...

...but flipped over onto a serving plate, those caramelized apples really shine!

I wonder, why did one pancake sink and one puff in the center?

 Apple Skillet Pancake

Serves 4 (or 2 big appetites)

For the batter:
4 eggs
¾ cup unbleached all-purpose flour, sifted
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
½ cup milk
½ cup vanilla soy milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons butter, melted
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg (or ginger)

For the apple base:                   
¼ cup unsalted butter
½ cup white sugar, divided in half
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg (or ginger)
2 large tart apples - peeled, cored and sliced

  1. In a large bowl use a whisk to blend the eggs until foamy. 
  2. In a smaller bowl add the baking powder and sugar to the flour and stir to mix. 
  3. Alternating the flour and the milk, gradually add each to the egg mixture about a fourth at a time, whisking vigorously after each addition. Add the vanilla, melted butter and ½ teaspoon nutmeg and whisk some more. (I’ve used a blender or a whisk and a bowl with equal success.) Now set the bowl aside and rest the batter for at least 30 minutes, or even overnight if you want a head start on breakfast prep the next day. (Bring batter back to room temp before use if you refrigerate it overnight.)
  4. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  5. Melt the butter in a heavy 10-inch ovenproof skillet, brushing butter up on the sides of the pan. (Or use 2 smaller skillets; I favor using 6-inch cast iron pans.)
  6. In a small bowl, combine ¼ cup sugar with the cinnamon and ground nutmeg. Sprinkle this mixture over the butter. Line the pan with apple slices. Sprinkle the remaining ¼ cup sugar over the apples. Place the skillet in the oven or on stovetop over medium-high heat until the mixture bubbles vigorously; then remove from the heat and gently pour the batter mixture over the apples.
  7. Immediately place the pan in the preheated 425 degrees F oven and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 375 degrees F and bake for 10 more minutes
  8. Remove from the oven and let sit a few minutes. Either (1) slide pancake onto serving platter or (2) invert onto a serving platter and cut into wedges. If your 6-inch pans are pretty and the appetites are large, you could serve the pancakes in the skillet, but those apples in caramel sauce really deserve to be showcased, face up on a plate. Sprinkle a dusting of powdered sugar over the top and serve with lemon wedges… this pancake doesn’t need any syrup.

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