German Apple Pancake

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German Apple Pancake

German apple pancake… the first of three apple recipes I plan to share with you all between now and Thanksgiving. Hands down, this is my favorite recipe to enjoy for breakfast on a crisp autumn or winter morning (another good one is baked strawberry oatmeal). Cooked entirely in a cast iron skillet, this pancake recipe holds special meaning to me, a Christmas Day breakfast that my grandmother and I shared the last several years of her life. 

Apfelpfannkuchen, otherwise known as a German Apple Pancake, is a traditional German dish that’s loaded with caramelized apples, and a custard-like filling. While it’s not a strictly Christmas tradition (nor is German Potato Salad, which also appeared throughout the holidays growing up), this fluffy pancake is something my German family regularly enjoyed throughout the yuletide season that I’ve only recently been making throughout the rest of the year.

Holiday favorite: one pan German Apple Pancake is more custard than pancake, but oh, so delicious. |

After a couple of days of insanely hot weather when I forced my husband to live on a couple of the handful of no-cook recipes I love so much (helllo heirloom tomato salad with feta), I noticed that the ugly apple tree in my parents backyard had suddenly been overloaded with delicious tart apples and I instantly knew that I needed to make this apple pancake recipe, which is started off on the stovetop and finished in the oven.

Also known as a Dutch Baby, this pancake serves anywhere from four to six people, depending upon the size of your slices. My family has always been partial to quartering the pancake, and serving it with a generous dusting of powdered sugar. My husband prefers it with maple syrup and fresh seasonal berries like strawberries or raspberries, which just proves how easy this baked pancake recipe is to adapt to your family’s liking.

Holiday favorite: one pan German Apple Pancake is more custard than pancake, but oh, so delicious.

When I started prepping this recipe, my husband got really excited because he thought I was making his favorite apple bourbon tart at seven in the morning. That might seem odd to you, but it’s been known to happen. Most of my go-to breakfast recipes are quick and easy, not to say that this German Apple Pancake isn’t quick and easy, because it is. The most time consuming element to this baked pancake is peeling and slicing the apples, the rest of work is done by a blender or food processor, and the stove and oven. Similar to the tart, I do add a splash of whiskey to the apples, but use rye instead of bourbon in this case… you absolutely do not have to use any type of alcohol whatsoever in this baked pancake, it’s just a little personal touch I’ve added to the recipe over the years.

Holiday favorite: one pan German Apple Pancake is more custard than pancake, but oh, so delicious.

In years past when I’ve made this for Christmas morning breakfast, I’ve planned ahead and prepared for the eggnog hangover and do all the prep work on the apples and custard filling the night before: letting the apples macerate in the rye whiskey, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg really intensify those comforting flavors often found in an apple pie. The filling is as simple as tossing the eggs, vanilla bean paste, sugar, flour, and baking powder into the blender for a few seconds.

Including prep work, this German apple pancake can be on the table, ready to be sliced, served and devoured in under thirty minutes. How many impressive breakfast recipes do you know of that come together that quickly and easily?

Holiday favorite: one pan German Apple Pancake is more custard than pancake, but oh, so delicious.

Unlike regular pancakes, which can sometimes be heavy and overly filling, this baked version is light and airy since the eggs are whipped up in the blender. Comparing this pancake to regular, average Joe pancakes isn’t really fair to the latter because other than sharing the use of the word “pancake,” there’s very little else that the two have in common.

While I haven’t personally served this at a brunch, I think this baked version would be a fantastic addition to any buffet spread filled with breakfast pastries and five different kinds of bacon… which is a delicious accompaniment to this yummy pancake. 

Since I’m always about variations to recipes, you can absolutely make this pancake with peaches or apricots, or even plums. For a more savory version, which I think is actually called a Swedish pancake, dice up whatever breakfast meat you have hidden away, omit the cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla.

If you’ve recently hit up the farmer’s market and bought way too many apples, check out my baked brie with an apple compote and the very autumn apple thyme tarts, both of which are really good and easy hors d’oeuvres.

Holiday favorite: one pan German Apple Pancake is more custard than pancake, but oh, so delicious.
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German Apple Pancake
This German Apple Pancake is cooked entirely in a cast iron skillet.
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • 1 tablespoon rye whiskey
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup golden brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 large tart apples, peeled, cored and cut into slices
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
In a medium bowl, combine the apples, cinnamon, nutmeg and brown sugar. Set aside.In a blender, add the eggs, granulated sugar, flour, baking powder, whiskey, vanilla and sea salt. Blend until combined and smooth.Preheat oven to 350ºHeat a 10" cast iron skillet over medium heat. Once the skillet has come to temperature, add the butter and melt. Add the apples and sauté until they just begin to caramelize. Remove from heat and pour the egg mixture over the apples. Bake in the oven until the top of the pancake is lightly golden brown and firm to the touch.Serve with powdered sugar, syrup or whipped cream.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 4 - 6 servings