In honor of Shrove Tuesday, known in some parts of this world as, yes, Pancake Day, I present you with this fine recipe for a baked apple pancake. Sometimes referred to as a ‘Dutch Pancake’, the trick to this pleasantly puffed show-stopper is the dual treatment of the stovetop and oven. For this I like to use a very special pan from the Netherton Foundry, an English company I got to know a couple years ago, whose owners Neil and Sue actually first told me about the tradition of Pancake Day in the UK.
The vision of a big baked pancake is actually the reason I bought the 10” spun iron pan by Netherton in the first place. Although frittata is also nice. I dreamed of lightly caramelizing apples in butter and sugar on the stovetop, only to pour the batter over top and flip the whole pan lightly into the oven without care or fuss. And with spun iron material, as opposed to massive cast iron, this ‘flipping’ I speak of really is no hyperbole. Spun iron is a far lighter-weight material than cast; it won’t take four hands to haul it out of a hot oven. I can only recommend it. Made in England and from local materials only, you don’t have to worry about chemical coatings and the like. And the gorgeous wooden handle of local oak and brass fittings can simply be unscrewed (or left unscrewed) if you are doing a lot of stovetop to oven maneuverings.
Pancake Day stems, like just about everything of European religious origin, from Paganism. This year its date falls rather early, but originally it would have marked the start of Spring, fighting a victorious battle against the dark forces of Winter. Thus, a pancake would be baked to represent the sun and the warmth it begins to emit around this time of year. As I sit here drinking an Earl Grey tea (pure coincidence: something I almost NEVER do) I can’t help but feeling delightfully British on this sunny Pancake Tuesday.
Recipe: Baked Apple Pancake
½ cup flour
½ cup milk
½ tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of ground nutmeg
Pinch of salt
1 apple, thinly sliced
1 tsp cinnammon
4 tablespoons butter, divided
2 tsp sugar, divided
sprinkling of powdered sugar
- Preheat the oven to 220 degrees. In a mixing bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Add the flour, milk, vanilla, salt and nutmeg and lightly beat until blended but still slightly lumpy.
- Melt 1 tbsp of the butter in a 10-inch oven-proof skillet (preferably spun iron) over medium heat. Add the sliced apples and cook down a bit, adding the sugar and cinnamon after a couple of minutes. When the apples are slightly caramelized and very soft, turn up the heat to med-high, add the rest of the butter and let foam.
- When the butter is very hot but not brown, pour in the batter. Bake in the oven until the pancake is billowing on the edges and golden brown, about 15 minutes.
- Working quickly, remove the pan from the oven and, using a fine-meshed sieve, sprinkle with the powdered sugar.
Serves 2 to 4