This is the time of year that I try to convince myself that winter is only a stones throw away. People, it's HOT out here! Today, in the shade, it was 115 F. Just a tad warm, wouldn't ya say..? When I first moved here 32 years ago, I remember stepping off the plane and having the heat hit me like an oven door dropping open. Back then it truly was a "dry heat". Over time though, it seems like more and more humidity has crept in, and it's not as dry as it used to be.
This weekend, I was trying to think of something for breakfast that would make me feel like Fall was here. How can you think of Fall and not have crisp apples come to mind..?
My favorite variety are Gala apples. They have the perfect amount of sweetness, are nice and crisp, and hold up perfectly when baked, especially in a baked German apple pancake. Now I know many of you might think that turning on the oven here in the summertime is crazy. But my choice was to set my thermostat at 78 F and bake breakfast, or to stand in 115 F and grill it... not a difficult decision. With the addition of fresh grated nutmeg, and a bit of cinnamon to my apples, my delusion that Fall had arrived was complete.
Actually, I have been thinking about an apple pancake ever since we were on vacation in San Diego a few weeks ago, and had dined at Richard Walkers Pancake House. I had seen a waiter walking by with one ordered by another guest, and wished I had ordered it myself. I wasn't able to find their recipe, but remembered I had seen this recipe prepared by Emeril Lagasse on Good Morning America, so I gave it a try. I always love an excuse to use my cast iron pans.
What I really liked about it was that it had just the right amount of sweetness. Just a bit of brown sugar to carmelize and compliment the apples, and enough eggs to give a nice, custard- like texture. I liked it best dusted with a teeny bit of confectioners sugar.
Brrrrrrrrr baby, I'm feelin' a chill coming on....
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup whole milk
1 cup all purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 apples (large), peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
powdered sugar, for serving
maple syrup, for serving
Preheat the oven to 450°F.
In a heavy, ovenproof (preferably nonstick)12-inch skillet (I used a cast iron pan), melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over high heat. Add the apples, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt and cook, stirring frequently, until the apples are soft and lightly golden around the edges, about 6 minutes. Add the sugar and cook, stirring, until the apples are caramelized and very soft, 2 to 3 minutes longer. Add the remaining tablespoon of butter and stir to melt.
Working very quickly, pour the batter evenly over the top of the apples. Using oven mitts or potholders, transfer the skillet to the oven and bake until the pancake is golden brown and puffed, about 15 minutes. Don't be alarmed when you see the edges of the pancake puff up and extend above the top of the inner edge of the pan – this is supposed to happen!
Using oven mitts or potholders, remove the skillet from the oven and serve the pancake, sprinkled with powdered sugar and drizzled with maple syrup, if desired.
Yield: One super-large pancake.