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 a pour of batter. The pancake is finished in the oven at a high heat to bake it 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.
My German apple pancake is 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.
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 take care when sautéing the apples on the stove: some apples may have a tendency to get mushy.
To serve, the pancake needs to be inverted onto a plate so that 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 so that the pancake falls onto the plate in one motion.
Maybe we should start calling these flip-jacks.