Apple Pancake – Yes, THE apple pancake
Our high school swim team was given a once a season ‘by’ on our early-morning workouts and our the tradition was to head to Walker Bros. on Greenbay Road for breakfast. There were a few of the ‘guy swimmers’ who could put away an entire apple pancake, one I can think of would ask us for our leftovers, hard to fathom but true. If you’ve ever been to Walker Bros. the Original Pancake House in the Northern Chicago suburbs (or Portland, OR) and had the apple pancake that is paraded out of the kitchen every few minutes, then you’re in for a treat. I’m thrilled to pass this recipe along to you. I’d love the stats on this one and how they keep them rolling out of the kitchen so quickly. I’ve tried making and apple pancake several times with tasty but results that just didn’t match the taste and texture of the pancake I was trying to recreate. So, to the internet I went and found this recipe. I’m listing it just as I found it but recommend you read the full article published in The Chicago Tribune 2007 article “Chicago’s Big Apple” by Steve Katz who researched and came up with this recipe worth sharing. Using vital wheat gluten and bread flour as well as nutmeg and powdered sugar in the batter are key pieces to the texture and taste I was looking for. If you are not familiar with Walker Bros. here is a great link to Road Food and their review of it.
Some important notes from the Tribune article…In restaurants, the classic German apple pancake is prepared in an 8-inch non-stick skillet with sloped sides and a 3-cup capacity. Although trade secrets are involved, writer Steve Katz figured out that the baking requires two steps: Allow the pancake batter to “set up” by baking it 30 minutes at 250 degrees, then “fire up” the pancake 15 minutes at 450 degrees–and watch it rise dramatically. It will rise better if you use the wheat gluten, which is available in some supermarkets and health food markets. The photo of this perfect pancake is from Walker Bros. website.
The Classic baked German apple pancake
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes
Yield: 4 servings
- 4 eggs
- 1/2 cup non-fat milk
- 2 tablespoons whipping cream
- 3/4 cup bread flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons wheat gluten
- 1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
Apples and cinnamon sugar:
- 3 tablespoons plus 1 1/2 teaspoons unsalted butter
- 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, cut into
- 1/4-inch slices
- 3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons plus 1 1/2 teaspoons superfine sugar
- 2 3/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon cornstarch
1. Beat eggs until foamy with an electric mixer (with the whisk attachment, if you have one) on medium speed; add milk and cream, beating until well blended. Sift flour, gluten, confectioners’ sugar, salt and nutmeg together in a medium bowl. Gradually add flour mixture to egg mixture, beating on low speed, until well blended, about 2 minutes. Set aside 15 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, heat oven to 300 degrees. Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in an 8-inch non-stick oven-safe skillet over medium heat; add apple slices. Cook, turning occasionally, until apples begin to soften but not brown, about 4 minutes; transfer to a bowl.
3. Meanwhile, stir together the brown sugar, superfine sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Sift the cornstarch into the mix; blend thoroughly with a fork. Melt remaining 2 tablespoons plus 1 1/2 teaspoons of the butter in a small saucepan. Slowly pour butter into the cinnamon-sugar mixture, stirring with a fork until it resembles a streusel like topping; spread the mixture over the bottom of the skillet. Layer apples (without piling up in the middle) over the sugar mixture to cover the bottom of the skillet.
4. Pour the batter over the apples. Place skillet in oven; reduce heat to 250 degrees. Bake 30 minutes. Remove from oven; cover with foil to keep warm. Increase oven heat to 500 degrees. Lower heat to 450 degrees. Return pancake to oven; bake until pancake puffs and edges begin to brown, 12-15 minutes. Remove pan from oven, carefully invert pan onto a platter or plate.