Brown butter and apple pancakes

These were literally inspired by the Dutch pear pancakes from Prune in New York City. Unlike the Dutch Baby pancakes, which is made from baking a loose batter at a high heat to create a giant fluffy pancake, these are more cake-like, and cooked with large visible slices of fruit in the batter. In the case of Prune, they usually use pieces of pear, and finish the pancakes with a dusting of powdered sugar. For those who are unfamiliar with the restaurant, Prune is known for serving unpretentious, classic food, usually inspired by European cuisines. The chef, Gabrielle Hamilton, has been a huge inspiration for me personally, just from her cooking style alone – her food is autobiographical to her French-American military family upbringing, former marriage to an Italian man, and just classic, unpretentious food. Whenever I talk about cooking dishes that tell my story, it really echoes the message that I learned from watching her season of “Mind of a Chef”, and seeing her do exactly that every day at her restaurant.

For these pancakes, I wanted to make them extra fluffy, so I went with homemade buttermilk – by mixing vinegar or lemon juice with either cream or milk, the acid creates cultures in the dairy product, which can be used in batters for a lighter end product. So it’s a no-brainer that I wanted a light fluffiness for my own pancakes, and made sure to use homemade buttermilk to achieve this. When it came to the fruit, I opted for apples instead of pears, just because I had apples on hand, and that works similarly anyways(you can honestly swap the apples with pears, peaches, apricots, and still end up with a similar end product though!). To finish, I went with some grated Okinawan black sugar in place of powdered sugar, as it has deep, rich molasses notes that just add a level of complexity, and kuromitsu, which is a dark sugar syrup that is popular in Japanese wagashi, in place of the usual maple. This recipe is honestly a fast one – while I was making it for the first time, it only took me 20 minutes from start to finish, and it’s a tasty way to enjoy either breakfast or brunch!

Makes 2 large pancakes:
1 green apple, peeled, cored, and sliced
2 tbsp unsalted butter
a pinch of cinnamon
1/2 cup milk
1 tbsp cider vinegar or lemon juice
1/2 cup flour
1/4 tspn baking soda
1/2 tspn baking powder
A pinch of salt
1 egg
1/2 tspn vanilla extract
2 tbsp canola oil
Okinawan black sugar(you can use piloncillo or jaggery as well!)

Start by heating up a nonstick pan with apple wedges, butter, and cinnamon on low heat. In a bowl, mix together the milk and vinegar first before you begin to measure out the other ingredients, and allow that to sit for at least 5 minutes. Mixing the milk and vinegar then letting it sit will create buttermilk, which in turn, makes for fluffier pancakes! Mix the buttermilk with the flour, baking soda and powder, salt, egg, vanilla, and canola oil to form your batter. Divide the batter into two batches. Once your apples have been nicely seared on both sides, remove half of the apples and half of the butter. Pour one of the two batches of the batter over the apples, in the nonstick pan, and sear on medium heat, with a lid over the pan, for 2 to 3 minutes. The pancake will be ready to flip where the top side has visible holes and the batter is no longer liquid-y. Flip the pancake and sear on the other side for another 2 minutes. Repeat these steps with the remaining apples, butter, and batter. Grate Okinawan black sugar on top of the pancakes, and serve with kuromitsu to finish!

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