Why It Works
- Preheating the oven to a high temperature allows the pancake batter to puff.
- Precooking the apples adds caramelized flavor.
- Letting the pancake cool slightly in the pan before inverting onto a serving plate allows it to set.
What Is a German Pancake?
Though called a pancake, this German version bears little resemblance to the fluffy flapjacks that we're used to on this side of the Atlantic. German pancakes, also sometimes referred to as Dutch Babies, are made of a non-leavened crepe-like batter. Fruit (usually apples, but any fruit would work) is first cooked in a skillet and then covered with batter. The pancake is finished in the oven at a high temperature to bake quickly. What you end up with is a smooth and custardy clafoutis-like pancake filled with soft caramelized fruit. A German apple pancake is hard to beat as an easy à la minute dessert, but my favorite is to serve it at brunch, drizzled with maple syrup and with a crisp slab of smoky bacon on the side.
Variations on the Classic
My German apple pancake is a little different. Where most batters use all milk, I incorporate yogurt into mine for a richer flavor. Sour cream can be substituted, and of course if you only have milk on hand, that's fine too. This pancake is very forgiving. I also use a fair amount of apples—about 1 3/4 pounds—to make sure that there's a forkful of fruit in every bite.
Choosing the Apples
As for the apples, go for tart, firm fleshed ones such as Granny Smiths. They'll hold their shape perfectly and their flavor is sweet-tart enough to balance the vanilla-scented pancake. If you use other varieties, just be careful when sautéing the apples on the stove: Some apples may have a tendency to get mushy.
How to Serve the Finished Dish
To serve, the pancake needs to be inverted onto a plate so that moist, caramelized apples are on top, sort of like a tarte tatin. To do that successfully, let the pancake rest in the pan for about five minutes to allow it to set slightly (if left to cool too long in the pan, the apples may stick to the bottom). Then invert a serving plate on top of the pan and flip the pan and plate over in one quick motion.
Maybe we should start calling these flip-jacks.
3/4 cup (about 3 1/3 ounces) all-purpose flour
5 tablespoons (75g) granulated sugar, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (175ml) milk
1/4 cup (55g) yogurt
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
4 tablespoons (60g) unsalted butter
1 pound 12 ounces (4 to 5 medium) tart cooking apples, such as Granny Smith, peeled, cored, and sliced into 1/4-inch wedges
Powdered sugar for dusting
Adjust rack to upper-middle position and preheat oven to 500°F (260°C). In a medium bowl, whisk flour, 1 tablespoon sugar, and salt to combine. Whisk in milk, yogurt, eggs, and vanilla until just combined. Set batter aside.
Stir remaining 4 tablespoons sugar with cinnamon in a small bowl. Heat butter in a 10-inch nonstick oven-safe skillet over medium heat until melted. Increase heat to medium-high and add apples and cinnamon-sugar to pan. Cook, stirring frequently, until apples have softened and are beginning to caramelize, about 8 minutes.
Remove from heat, pour batter over apples and immediately place pan in oven. Reduce heat to 425°F (220°F) and bake until pancake is puffed, just set in center, and golden around the edges, about 15 minutes.
Cool pan on wire rack for 5 minutes. Place a large serving plate over the skillet and carefully invert pancake onto plate. Dust with powdered sugar and serve.
10-inch nonstick oven-safe skillet
Once the pan is removed from the oven, it's normal for the pancake to deflate.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Servings: 8 to 10|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 7g||9%|
|Saturated Fat 4g||18%|
|Total Carbohydrate 28g||10%|
|Dietary Fiber 3g||9%|
|Total Sugars 17g|
|Vitamin C 0mg||0%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|