Today marked the end of my short-lived backyard apple season as the last apple plopped to the soggy grass. My two, now bare, apple trees remind me of autumn family trips as a child to an orchard in Oka, Quebec. I remember climbing up the trunk of each apple tree, like a simian, and entangling myself in the upper branches elatedly. I loved the pull and twist of the fruit, with arms outstretched. I loved the quick polish of fruit on my grubby shirt sleeve, back before washing one’s fruit came in style, and the ultimate, mouth-watering crunch that followed. My brother and I would leave the orchard with belly aches from having gorged ourselves greedily on fruit, and would sneak past the gates with bulging pockets bursting at the seams, like those pirates in movies who stuff gold doubloons in every orifice as the ship is sinking.
I’ve been trying to find a use for the late-fallen apples from my two apple trees that didn’t fall early enough to make it into the now-fermenting batch of cider. This year’s harvest has been used in a couple of pies, a recent fruit crumble and enough homemade apple sauce to supply my local Costco.
I also stumbled upon a variation of traditional stove-top apple flapjacks which I had to try. Apparently German in its roots, this “oven pancake” gives the pancake a puffy, shell-like appearance that is both filling and slightly reminiscent of a distant Canadian cousin, the Beaver Tail – my favourite Quebec export after Maple Syrup, Poutine and Blanche de Chambly beer. Enjoy!
Prep: 10 mins Bake: 30 mins
Makes: 1 large pancake; enough for 2 people if you cut it down the middle
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp + 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp + 2 tbsp brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tart baking apple, thinly sliced (leave a few slices as garnish)
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1-2 tbsp powdered sugar, for sprinkling (optional)
1. Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Melt the butter in a pie plate and make sure the bottom and sides are greased up. Sprinkle with half the cinnamon and half the brown sugar.
2. Place the sliced apples along the bottom of the pie dish.
3. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs, then mix in the milk, flour, salt, and the other half of the brown sugar and cinnamon.
4. Pour the batter into the pie plate.
5. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until puffy. Don’t worry, the puffiness is normal and settles down once out of the oven. Also, don’t be shocked by the dark golden colour around the edges – it’s not burning. Remove from the oven and immediately use a knife to loosen the edges and flip over onto a plate. Serve warm, with sliced apples as garnish. Squeeze the lemon juice on top and then sprinkle with powdered sugar.