On a Sunday afternoon, some friends and I drove out to the country, where on either side of the highway, green acres stretch as far as you can see.
There was a lot of talk about farms, about milking cows, about which of us would be first to admit the whole country-living thing sounds appealing.
Personally, I think I’d like very much to eat from my own land, to work with the earth, to wear blue jeans and t-shirts every day. At least I think this now, having never done it.
And after miles of corn fields, sprawling estates, and one high school, we came to our destination: Kuipers Family Farm, which convinced me that I really would like it, this whole rural thing, even more.
There’s just something about an apple orchard. The kind of something that makes you feel young again, like you’re a kid, like there’s nothing in all the world as important as filling your bag with fresh fruit and biting into the juicy flesh of a golden honeycrisp.
This time of year, most of the trees have been picked at prime, leaving large wooden crates filled with apples at the end of rows of bare trees, so we picked from those instead of the branches.
And there was a little boy, maybe seven or eight years old, searching the bins, intent on finding the best fruit. He was loud enough to get the attention of a group of us, pointing at one big, red apple a few inches lower than his arm.
“Could someone hand me that apple right there?” he asked, to no one in particular, but confident he would get it.
Later, I heard him shout, “It’s a really big one!” as he grabbed an apple larger than his fist. I asked him what his secret was, and this is what he told me, after pausing and with complete authority: look for the ones without the bruisings.
We took a hayride into the orchard and a short walk out, on the way in with empty bags and steaming cider, on the way out with clusters of juicy apples, each of us biting into one as we walked.
They were delicious, with crisp skin revealing tender, slightly bitter flesh.
When I got home, I sliced two large honeycrisp apples into thin, thin slices, preparing them for a recipe I’d been eager to try: a puffed apple pancake, taken from the Bon Appetit September 2002 issue.
I felt like I was the star of a cooking show, whipping the ingredients together quickly. The recipe is so simple! With basic ingredients! Easy instructions! I honestly impressed myself, I’ll just admit it.
While the pancake cooked, I even made an omelet which, since I’m feeling transparent, I’ll just say wasn’t quite as impressive, and we’ll leave it at that.
No, but really, if you are enjoying apple season like I am, if you like impressive breakfasty recipes that could not be simpler, if you have been looking for something a little different to try: this puffed apple pancake is the thing.
It will disappear as quickly as you can make it. And while you are at it…take peak at all of Foodal’s best pancake recipes.
Adapted from Bon Appetit, September 2002
Cooking by the Numbers…
Step 1 – Prep
Speaking of apples, I like to use honeycrisps because I love the sweet-tart taste and they bake well. But any apple variety will work.
Lay out all of your ingredients in one spot and establish your mise en place.
Step 2 – Soften the Apples
Melt the butter in the glass pie dish either in the oven or in a microwave and layer in your apple slices. You can make these layers pretty like I’ve done below or just throw them in the dish for a more rustic look.
Place the apple slices in the oven for about 10 minutes until slightly soft. I typically use a convection style toaster oven for small jobs like this. In this case I’m using one of my favorite models, the Breville Smart Oven Pro.
Step 3 – Make the Egg Batter
Add the eggs, white sugar, vanilla, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg to a large mixing bowl and mix well using a balloon whisk. Slowly add the flour and whisk this into the mixture.
Remove the apple slices from the oven and pour the batter over them.
Sprinkle the brown sugar over the top. I used a sifter with “finger power” to get an even topping.
Step 4 – Bake and Serve
Pop the pie pan with the egg batter applied back into the oven and bake for approximately 2o minutes.
Remove when the brown sugar becomes caramelized but before it burns.
If you want a slightly sweeter taste, you can sift confectioner’s sugar over the top.
Allow to cool for 10 minutes after baking and serve. Some vanilla ice cream or heavy cream over the top would be a match made in heaven.
What about you? Do you have any favorite apple recipes? Let us know in the comments below. And don’t forget to check out all of our delicious dessert recipes!
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Photos by Mike Quinn unless otherwise noted, © Foodal / Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published October 21st, 2008 by Shanna Mallon. Revised and updated November 23rd, 2017, with additional writing by Mike Quinn.
About Shanna Mallon
Shanna holds an MA in writing from DePaul University. Her mantra? Restoring order and celebrating beauty through creative content, photography, and food. Shanna's work has been featured in Bon Appetit, The Kitchn, MSN.com, Everyday Health, Better Homes & Gardens, Houzz.com, Food News Journal, Food52, Zeit Magazine, Chew the World, Mom.me, Babble, Delish.com, Parade, Foodista, Entrepreneur and Ragan PR.