Last week I posted a photo of this oven pancake on my Instagram feed and I’ve had quite a few messages asking for the recipe. I would say that this is perfect winter comfort food. It is sweet (but not too sweet and you could reduce the sugar content if you prefer), soft and eggy – with contrasting crisp apples. I like mine to be well cooked, to get the singed edges on the tart fruit.
This is called Apfelfannkuchen.
50g unsalted butter, melted
2tsp sunflower oil
2 large or 3 medium Granny Smiths apples, peeled, cored and thickly sliced (I used Bramleys because that’s what I had to hand)
Ground cinnamon, to taste
75g plain flour
50g soft brown sugar
15g caster sugar
140ml semi skimmed milk
Quarter teaspoon vanilla essence
Preheat the oven to 220C, gas 7. Line the base of a round cake tin (not loose based). Add half the melted butter and the oil, and coat the inside of the tin. Mix the apples with the cinnamon and the rest of the butter. Layer in the base of the tin. Cook in the oven for 12-15 minutes. In a bowl, sift the flour and a pinch of salt. Make a well in the centre. Break in the eggs, and add the milk and the vanilla essence. Whisk together to make a thick, smooth batter.
Remove the tin with the apples from the oven and pour the batter into the tin immediately. Return to the oven and bake for 15-18 minutes until the pancake is puffed up and golden brown. Turn out of the tin straight away. Cut into wedges and serve warm or cold.
As I wrote on the ‘gram, this German recipe reminds me of working in a hotel in Switzerland in the summer of ’83 when I was 20. The food in the region (Thunersee) was hearty, full of cream, batters, butter, meats and cheeses. I particularly remember the spätzle, a kind of egg pasta which was served alongside meat in rich sauces. Desserts were fruit tarts and flans with fresh cream mixed with kirsch. It all sounds like a massive heart attack on a plate! But this was mountain country and after a hike over the Alps, I am sure it was well received.
Each morning, it was my job to go to the village bakery and collect the croissants and loaves in a huge basket. When I came back to open the bar, a grumpy old man was always there ready and waiting to order his quarter carafe of red wine for breakfast! It was a beautiful location, overlooking Lake Thun, but I actually have no idea why I chose to go to a hotel in a tiny village, half way up a mountain in the German speaking part of Switzerland. I did not speak German, I couldn’t drive, and there was no public transport. I wasn’t even very enthusiastic about mountains. I lodged with a wealthy south American couple who lived in a luxury chalet a few doors away from the hotel. It was lovely, especially compared to my extremely threadbare student house in Sheffield at the time, but also quite lonely. A bit of a gilded cage. But, as is often the way with experiences like this, it pushed me out of my comfort zone. I ended up hitch hiking and taking trains around the country on my days off, visiting Zurich, Bern, Basel and Interlaken and taking in as much of the scenery as I could.
The chef (who I thought was ancient at the time, but in reality he was probably only about 35) took me under his wing, and when we were quiet in the hotel, he taught me to make a few classic dishes.
I now have a lifelong affection for apple pancakes 🙂
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