Still blissful and dreamy after our day spent apple picking in the country, it was only right to start the next day with a breakfast celebrating the literal fruits of our labor. And I was not about to do something all diet-y and stir a chopped Fuji into some cottage cheese with cinnamon (although that breakfast will be coming in handy in about a week when all the glorious apple desserts I've been making start to catch up with me). It was a lazy Sunday, after all, and before the morning gave way to an NFL marathon, I thought it would be nice to enjoy a special apple-inspired breakfast with the husband. But what to make?
The problem with a lot of fruit-centered breakfast dishes is that they are cloyingly sweet and punch you in the gut about 20 minutes after eating--thick and starchy pancakes or heavy french toast with syrupy compotes as a crutch and mounds of whipped cream or even ice cream (!) as a topping. Now, we all know I'm not afraid of dessert, but first thing in the morning? Meh. I wanted something lighter, that really championed the fruit.
Enter the German Apple Pancake, otherwise known as a Dutch Baby. It's a big baked pancake that needs little babysitting and leaves few dirty dishes, key for sleepyheads on a Sunday. It all starts by sauteing some fresh apples with a little butter and sprinkling on a bit of brown sugar to get some caramelization going. Meanwhile, a quick, light egg batter is blended and poured around the golden fruit. Then it's into a hot oven for a short bake where it transforms into a beautiful, puffed round that when inverted is reminiscent of a gleaming tarte tatin.
A pretty dusting of confectioners' sugar and a good cup of coffee is all this pancake really needs. But then again, who would argue with the addition of warm maple syrup and crispy strips of applewood smoked bacon? Communists.
German Apple Pancake
Adapted from Baking Illustrated
2 large eggs
3/4 cup half and half (you can use 1/2 milk, 1/2 half and half, if you prefer)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3 medium Granny Smith apples (peeled, cored and cut into 1/4 inch thick slices, about 1 1/4 pounds total)
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Preheat oven to 500 degrees and set an oven rack to the middle position.
Combine the eggs, half and half, vanilla, salt and granulated sugar in a blender and process until well-combined, about 15 seconds. Add the flour and process until well-mixed and free of lumps, about 30 seconds. Set the batter aside.
Add the butter to a 10-inch nonstick skillet with a heatproof handle over medium-high heat until the butter foams. Add the apple slices and sprinkle the brown sugar and cinnamon over them. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the apples turn golden brown, about 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, and quickly pour the batter around the edge of the skillet over the apples. Put the skillet into the oven and immediately turn the temperature down to 425 degrees. Cook until brown and puffed, about 16 to 17 minutes.
Loosen the edges of the pancake with a spatula and invert the pancake onto a serving platter (apples-side up). Dust with confectioners' sugar and serve immediately with warmed maple syrup.