Makes 2 large apple-filled pancakes with caramelized surfaces; serves 6 to 8
1 c whole or reduced-fat milk (plus 2 Tbsp if using 3/4 c whole wheat flour), heated to lukewarm
1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1 1/2 c flour: 3/4 c each whole wheat and all-purpose, or 1/2 c whole wheat and 1 c all-purpose
1/4 c sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 medium to large tart apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
About 2 Tbsp cinnamon sugar (1/2 tsp cinnamon to 2 Tbsp sugar)
Place the milk in a medium bowl and stir in the yeast, then stir in the flour and 2 tablespoons sugar. Stir for 1 minute, then set aside for 30 minutes to 2 hours, whichever is most convenient.
When ready to proceed, add the egg, salt, and melted butter and mix thoroughly. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand for 6 to 8 hours, or overnight. (If keeping the batter for longer than 8 hours, or if the temperature is very warm, refrigerate the batter until 2 hours before using.) The batter should be bubbly when ready.
Before cooking the pancakes, decide which method you wish to use to caramelize the pancakes: If using a broiler, turn on the broiler and use an ovenproof 8- to 9-inch skillet. Otherwise, put out two heavy 8- to 9-inch skillets.
Heat a heavy 8- to 9-inch skillet over medium heat, and melt 1 Tbsp of the butter. Add half the apples and saute until soft but not brown. Spread the slices well over the bottom of the pan, sprinkle on 1 Tbsp sugar, and lower the heat to medium-low. Pour on a scant 1 1/2 cups batter and spread it to the edges of the skillet. Cook until the top is spongy and dull, no longer liquid and shiny, about 5 minutes (be patient).
Meanwhile, if using two skillets, butter the other one lightly and place over medium-high heat.
Sprinkle the top of the pancake generously with cinnamon sugar (about 1 tablespoon). Place the skillet under the broiler and broil until the cinnamon sugar melts, about 1 minute; or flip the pancake into the other skillet and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer the pancake to a platter apple side up.
Repeat with the second pancake. Serve hot.
For breakfast or brunch, serve plain or with maple syrup. Or, if serving for dessert, offer heavy cream or vanilla or nut-flavored ice cream as an accompaniment. Allow a third to a half of a skillet cake per person for breakfast, and a quarter per person for dessert.
If you've ever read the book Como Agua Para Chocolate (Like Water For Chocolate) by Laura Esquivel, you'll get the setup of this blog. If not, then let me explain. Esquivel begins each chapter of her book with a recipe, followed by a narrative. Most of it is believable. Some of it is, well, a stretch.
I'll give you a new recipe every so often, along with some narrative. You might get some stretchiness every once in a while, and some true things too. My philosophy is that some things just need to be shared, like the time that my father-in-law said, "I might take my legs along, just in case I need them."
The recipe for Russian Apple Cakes is from said father-in-law. More about him, and other people who make life interesting, to come ...