Monday, March 8, 2010

'Stolen' Apple Pancakes

Which is what the handwritten recipe in my mom's recipe notebook says.

I associate a childhood trip to chicago with this recipe. There was a pancake restaurant. I think I was in first grade, and I did not appreciate it. I have never been a good traveler, nor a person who enjoys meeting strangers. Going to Chicago was something I wanted to do not because I actually enjoyed the experience, but because like all children, I didn't want to miss out on anything that might be fun. How was I to know at that age that I was destined to be a curmudgeon? I was six.

The pancake restaurant was noisy, crowded, I was at a table with many strangers, and I don't remember what I ordered. Waffles, maybe. With strawberries, because we never had such exotic things at home, but I don't think they lived up to the expectations I had of them. Somebody else ordered the apple pancakes. I don't know if that was when dad first had them or what, but evidently they made a great impression on him, because this recipe showed up in mom's cookbook. 'Stolen' I assume because dad had to approximate the originals on his own.

On the other hand, while thinking about this recipe brings up memories of some very uncomfortable family excursions, the pancakes themselves, and the making of them, impart a feeling of great wellbeing. Even, I hate to admit it, of nostalgia! This was a special occasion breakfast to begin with, and later on, Dad would just decide that he wanted apple pancakes from time to time. Sometimes the tai chi group would come over, Dad would make a bunch of these things, and the house would smell like hot cooking oil and sugar all day.

The pictures are not that great, but I plead ravenous impatience to eat breakfast.

1 large apple, 2 would have been better
1 or 2 T cooking oil, canola or like that, not olive.
a teensy pinch of salt

a generous handful of brown sugar
punkin pie spice or cinnamon, if you like

I have no idea what the pancake recipe was on that card. I know that it used only white flour. It had a bunch of eggs in it. I was feeling lazy, and just used pancake mix: TJ's multigrain. It makes a fluffier, lighter dough than the ones Dad made, but I like things to be less heavy than he did. Also, do not attempt to make this in a flimsy pan or one with a non-stick coating.

1 1/2 c pancake mix
1 egg
1 cup water
a dab of oil

Pre-heat the oven to 475.

Peel and slice the apple into 1/4 inch pieces or so. Get the oil pretty hot in a well seasoned all metal skillet and throw in the apples and a sprinkle of salt. The salt is very important, it makes the apples sweat, and keeps them from being one dimensionally sweet. When the apples are a teensy bit brown, turn them once and sprinkle the brown sugar and spice over them. The sugar will begin to caramelize very rapidly.

Mix up the batter ingredients up really fast, and don't worry about a few lumps. You will actually only need to use about 2/3 of the batter. Pour the batter over the apples and cover for a few seconds. When the caramel begins to ooze up around the edges and through any little holes, remove the cover and put the skillet in the oven to finish cooking.

When the pancake is just barely done and is starting to brown at the edges, take it out, cover it and let it sit for about 3 minutes. This lets the pancake finish cooking, and allows the apples to steam loose from the pan a bit. Turn the pancake out onto a plate and poke any apple bits back into it that have got stuck in the pan. Eat with scrambled eggs and cheddar cheese.

Definitely, this is for eating with company. It will taste just as delicious by yourself, but it would be a terrible pity to have nobody to enjoy it with.

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