When you are a professional baker, most people shy away from baking for you, because they think that there’s no way they can impress you. The truth is I love to be presented with a homemade dessert or pastry. That’s why I got into this business in the first place: I love spreading (and receiving) the joy that sweets bring to people. Denise Drower Swidey, a dear friend, former coworker, and amazing cook, is always baking and sharing, and I’m the lucky recipient of many a scrumptious treat. She had Christopher and me over for brunch one Sunday and served us a decadent apple pancake. I pleaded for the recipe, and she generously agreed. It’s essentially a Dutch baby, which is a pouffy baked pancake that rises dramatically in the oven and then gently deflates as you take it out and serve it to your guests. The sugar and butter caramelize around the edge of the pancake, making a delicious counterpart to the soft, custardy middle.
- Yield: 4 Servings
- 1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled, halved, cored, and thinly sliced
- 4 tbsp (50 g) granulated sugar
- ¼ cup (55 g) packed brown sugar
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ cup (120 ml) whole milk
- 2 large eggs
- ½ cup (70 g) all-purpose flour
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- ¼ lemon, wedge-cut
- 2 tbsp confectioners’ sugar
- Preheat the oven to 425°F/220°C, and place a rack in the center of the oven.
- In a medium bowl, toss the apple slices with 2 tbsp of the granulated sugar, all of the brown sugar, and the cinnamon. Set aside.
- Pour the milk and eggs into the blender or food processor and pulse a few times to combine. Add the flour, the remaining 2 tbsp granulated sugar, and the salt and blend for 6 to 8 seconds to combine if using a blender, or pulse 8 to 10 times until well blended and frothy if using a processor.
- Heat the cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add the butter. When the butter has melted, add the apple-sugar mixture and cook, stirring often, for about 2 minutes, or until the sugar melts and bubbles. The apples will finish cooking in the oven, so don’t worry about cooking them through. Cook them just until the sugar starts to bubble. Remove the skillet from the heat, arrange the apples so that they cover the bottom of the pan evenly, and pour the batter evenly over the apples. The batter will fill the skillet and go under and over the apples.
- Place the skillet on the baking sheet to avoid spills on your oven floor and bake for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the pancake is puffed and golden brown. Remove from the oven, squeeze the lemon wedge over the pancake, then, using the sieve, dust the top with the confectioners’ sugar. Serve immediately. The pancake will stick to the pan if you don’t remove it while it is still hot, so be sure to get it out within 15 minutes of pulling the pan from the oven (or be prepared to scrape the pan).