Recently, my good friend and longtime assistant, Emily Bell, texted me about some cider pancakes she had made with her teenage grandson. “They were so easy and delicious,” she recounted, noting that the young sous-chef loved them. It didn’t take me long to ask for the recipe!
My friend used a basic pancake batter, replacing a small amount of the milk with cider and adding cinnamon for a spicy accent. She also sautéed diced apples to use as a garnish for the gridle cakes. For my version I added cider syrup (prepared by reducing cider with a little sugar until just slightly thickened) which reenforced the cider theme and was lighter than traditional maple syrup as an accompaniment.
These pancakes would be perfect to anchor a weekend fall breakfast or brunch. You can make the cider syrup, which needs a good 30 minutes of unattended cooking to reduce, two days in advance. The dry ingredients for the pancakes can be measured and readied for assembly a day ahead. And, the apples can be sautéed a few hours before needed. At serving time, you’ll need only to combine the dry and wet ingredients for the batter and then cook the pancakes. A single recipe serves four, but don’t expect any leftovers!
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Cider Pancakes with Sautéed Apples and Cider Syrup
3 cups apple cider
1/4 cup sugar
1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
2 Golden Delicious apples
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup apple cider
2 large eggs
4 tablespoons unsalted butter melted plus 1 to 2 tablespoons extra for the pan or griddle
1.For the cider syrup, combine cider and sugar in a medium, heavy saucepan set over high heat. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until sugar has dissolved. Add cinnamon stick halves and cook, without stirring, until the liquid has reduced to 3/4 cup, about 30 minutes. Syrup will be slightly thickened but not have the density of a traditional maple syrup. (Cider syrup can be prepared 2 days ahead. Cool and refrigerate. Reheat over medium heat on stove top or in a microwave in microwave proof container.)
2. While cider is reducing, stem but do not peel the apples. Quarter them lengthwise and cut out and discard cores from each quarter. Cut each quarter into 3/4- inch cubes or pieces. In a medium-large heavy skillet set over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter until hot. Add apple cubes and toss in butter. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons sugar and cook, stirring until apples are softened and just barely browned around the edges, about 3 to 4 minutes. Do not overcook or apples will become too soft. (Apples can be prepared 2 hours ahead; leave at cool room temperature in skillet and reheat over medium heat, stirring.)
3.For the pancakes, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl. Whisk well to blend. (Dry ingredients can be assembled a day ahead; cover and keep at room temperature.) In another bowl, whisk together the milk, cider, eggs, and 4 tablespoons melted butter. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ones, and whisk until mixture is smooth and there are no lumps.
4. Heat a griddle or a large, heavy frying pan set over medium heat until hot, then brush with just enough butter to coat the surface. Working in batches, pour the batter, using a 1/4 cup measure, onto the hot griddle or into the skillet. Cook until bubbles appear on the top, and bottoms of the pancakes are golden brown, about 2 minutes. Turn, using a metal spatula, and cook until golden brown on other side, about 2 minutes. Watch carefully so they do not burn. Remove to a warm platter and cover loosely with foil. (Do not stack pancakes or they will steam and become flabby.) Repeat, adding more butter to the griddle until all the batter has been used. Reduce heat if griddle seems to be getting too hot and butter is browning when you brush it on the pan.
5. To serve, arrange 4 overlapping pancakes on each of 4 plates, and spoon some warm apples in the center. Drizzle with warm cider syrup and pass extra syrup in a small pitcher. Dust each serving with confectioners’ sugar. Serves 4.
Copyright Betty Rosbottom 2021