Calvin spent last Friday night with my parents, which he gets to do about once a month. Everybody wins – Calvin and my parents get good grandparent/grandchild time and Rich and I get good couple time. And it means we get to eat things that Calvin doesn’t like. Not sure why he doesn’t like Dutch Apple Pancake, since he likes everything in it, but you can’t always tie logic to food dislikes.
A Dutch, or German, pancake, in case you have never had one, is a big, soufflé- or popover-like pancake that is baked in the oven. This variation starts with apples sautéed in butter and brown sugar, which makes a luscious caramel-y syrup around the apples. You then pour the batter on top and bake it until it browns and puffs. We made it a lot when we first got married. We have experimented with bananas and blueberries, but apples really are the best. We managed to burn ourselves out on it, so we are just starting to make it again.
The recipe comes from “Farm Home Journal’s Homemade Breads,” which I got on the bargain table at a bookstore right after we got married. I don’t care for the format of this recipe, because it is one of those that takes a basic recipe and then adds variations in another recipe. So the variation tells you what to add to the basic recipe, but you have to refer back to the first recipe on another page. I think it makes it really easy to get mixed up on the ingredients and forget something. And it means a lot of flipping back and forth from page to page. We made some changes, as always, so I totally rewrote the recipe to include those and to eliminate the flipping back and forth.
If you don’t have an oven-safe skillet, you can sauté the apples and then transfer them to a preheated casserole dish before adding the batter. The hot dish or skillet starts the cooking with a blast of direct heat and speeds things up, as well as aiding in the puffing of the batter.
Dutch Apple Pancake adapted by The Cook’s Life from Farm Home Journal’s Homemade Breads serves 2-4
2 tablespoons butter
2-3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tart apples, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch pieces
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
Preheat oven to 450 degrees, and arrange the racks so you can bake the pancake on the lower rack, with room above it for it to puff. If you don’t have an oven-safe skillet, lightly grease a casserole dish with oil or solid shortening and preheat it with the oven. Don’t use cooking spray to grease the dish, as it can leave a sticky residue on your dish at high temperatures.
Heat a 10-inch oven-safe skillet over medium heat and add the butter. When butter is melted, add the brown sugar and stir to combine. Add the apples and spread them out in an even layer. Cook them, stirring only occasionally, until they are soft.
While the apples are cooking, combine all the batter ingredients and beat with a wire whisk for 2 minutes, or until well combined and slightly foamy.
When apples are soft, add cinnamon and stir to combine. Spread apples out in an even layer and turn off the heat. Pour the batter over the apples and place the pan in the oven.
If your skillet isn’t oven-safe, remove the hot casserole from the oven, arrange apples in an even layer in the bottom and pour in the batter. Bake the pancake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes. Without opening the oven, reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake pancake for 5-10 minutes more, or until the top is browned and the pancake has puffed.
Remove pancake from the oven and show everyone how beautiful and puffy it is. Serve directly from the skillet or casserole dish. Pancake will fall as it cools.