I keep forgetting the fact that I’m actually a mom each time Mothers’ Day rolls around. And when I finish plotting surprises for my own mom and remember that I’ll be on the receiving end of something or other come Sunday morning, my idea of a happy day centers around a leisurely breakfast – preferably not made by me. This crunchy, billowy pancake is perfect. It takes just a few minutes to whisk together – a great project for kids, as you can’t overwhisk the batter, which you pour into a pie plate or cast iron skillet and slide into a hot oven. 20 minutes later out comes a dramatic popover-like pancake that’s perfect for a special Mothers’ Day breakfast, or for any Sunday morning, really. (Note to self: Fathers’ Day is coming soon too.)
Sturdier fruits such as apples and pears can be sautéed first and baked right into the pancake or set aside to be served on top; fragile fruits like berries are better served in the hollow of the finished pancake, which rises even more dramatically when the batter is baked on its own. This also makes a pretty fab dessert.
Naturally, it’s best topped with whipped cream, served to you, in bed.
Puffed Apple Pancake
2 apples or ripe, firm pears (or substitute fresh berries or sliced bananas)
1 Tbsp canola oil
1-2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp sugar, maple syrup or honey
3 large eggs
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup milk
Maple syrup or vanilla yogurt for serving (optional)
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Core and slice the apples or pears.
In a large skillet (ideally an ovenproof one, such as cast iron), heat the oil and butter over medium-high heat. When the butter starts to foam, sauté the apples or pears for a minute or two. Sprinkle with the sugar and cinnamon and cook until they start to turn golden. Remove from the heat and set aside.
In a medium bowl whisk together the eggs, flour and milk – don’t worry about getting all the lumps out.
Now you can proceed one of two ways:
1) Pour the batter over the apples in the skillet and put it in the oven. (If you don’t have an ovenproof skillet, transfer the sautéed apples to a greased pie plate and pour the batter over them.) The apples will bake straight into the pancake, but it won’t rise quite as high with the fruit inside; or
2) Transfer the apples to a bowl and set them aside to serve on top, then pour the batter into the hot pan.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the pancake is puffed and golden. Cut it into wedges and serve warm topped with the sautéed apples or pears, a drizzle of maple syrup or dollop of vanilla yogurt.
Variation – Puffed Berry Pancake: Omit the apples altogether. Melt the oil and butter in the skillet and swirl to coat it well, and pop it in the oven for a few minutes to heat up. Remove from the oven, pour the batter into the hot skillet and bake as directed. Fill the puffed pancake with fresh berries (or other sliced fruit) and serve with syrup for breakfast or as dessert with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.