I have a not-so-secret secret. I don’t love brunch. It seems like everyone in the world except for me would eat brunch or breakfast foods for every meal if given the chance. I mean, breakfast food is fine, but I’d choose a sandwich and a salad over a stack of pancakes any day.
It’s not that I don’t eat breakfast either; I do, every day. I typically have some sort of fruit and a bowl of cereal (right now Great Grains Crunchy Pecan) or eggs if I’m feeling adventurous. But my friends know to not ask me to brunch; I’ll go occasionally, but it’s really not my thing. I can make all of that stuff for pennies! Even free range eggs cost less than a quarter each at the grocery store; you can buy a waffle iron for $30 and supply endless brunches until the end of time for the cost of three restaurant brunches!
Regardless of my person brunch beliefs, though, my co-workers, who primarily live in Raleigh, will every so often tell me that they’re doing something on a weekend morning in Durham and ask for brunch suggestions. Oddly enough, I always have some. I know the places to go, I just don’t go to them. The one place that I have been to brunch–twice in the past year!– is called Dame’s Chicken and Waffles, and it’s always the first place that I recommend. It’s different, it’s kinda funny (unless I’m the only person who thinks that a waffle topped with fried chicken is mismatched) and it’s freaking delicious. I thought I’d hate it, and I was truly surprised and happy when my plate came out and I liked it. They have unique waffles paired with fried chicken and interestingly flavored butter, and it’s quite tasty. If you’re ever in Durham, you must check it out. The New York Times even recommends it.
Chicken and waffles is not something that I will ever make in my house, and true brunch food is something that I only think about once in a blue moon. I recently found a recipe that sparked my interest, though, so I tried it out one morning. And then I tried it out again for good measure, but I made it during the afternoon. I’m not sold that I would actually make this for breakfast or brunch again (based on my preference for cereal in the morning), but I’m positive that a brunch and breakfast lover would, and I will even venture to make it again for an afternoon snack or dessert. With soft and sweet apples sinking into the faintly cinnamon dough, this pancake will help you to welcome fall with open arms. And I’m sure all your breakfast food lovers will thank me, too.
Big cinnamon apple pancake
only slightly adapted from Gourmet, November 2004
Notes: Feel free to omit the cinnamon. I think that it adds a nice warmth to the pancake, though.
Watch the pancake as it bakes. If after 10 minutes the edges are puffed and beginning to brown but the center still seems a bit liquidy, reduce to heat to 400F and cook for an additional 8 or so minutes. The pancake is finished when the whole thing has puffed and is golden.
½ stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1 large or 1 ½ medium sweet apples, such as Gala, peeled, cored and cut into ¼ inch slices
½ cup milk
½ cup all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon vanilla
¼ teaspoon salt
confectioners sugar for dusting, if desired
1. Put oven rack in the middle position and preheat the oven at 450F. Be sure to start preheating at the beginning; this recipe comes together quickly.
2. Melt butter in an oven-proof, nonstick skillet (eg cast iron) over medium heat. Transfer 2 tablespoon of butter to a blender.
3. Add apple slices to the skillet. Cook until softened, about 5 minutes, flipping over once to soften both sides.
While the apples are cooking, combine milk, flour, eggs, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla and salt in the blender. Blend until smooth, about 30 seconds.
4. Once apples are softened, turn off the stove and pour the batter evenly over the apples. Immediately transfer the skillet to the oven. Bake for about 13 minutes, until the pancake is puffed and golden.
5. Dust confectioners sugar over the pancake, if desired, and serve.