This apple puff pancake tastes like a frosty autumn weekend and is a comforting breakfast staple from Germany! Here is my modern adaptation of the traditional German apple pancake, or apfelpfannkuchen.
It’s family-friendly, so adults can enjoy it with brewed coffee while the little ones can enjoy it with a warm cup of tea or milk.
In the early 1900s, it was popularized in America by a diner in Seattle, Washington. Eventually, the apfelpfannkuchen came to be known as Dutch babies in America. Not much is known about why they’re called Dutch baby pancakes, but one thing’s for sure: you have to try this at least once in your lifetime!
German apple pancakes are painless to make and can be served in large portions, making it a go-to recipe for big groups. The pancake batter consists of flour, eggs, milk, sugar and apples. Pretty simple, huh?
Despite being called a pancake, it isn’t actually cooked in a flat pan like our Canadian pancakes, drizzled with maple syrup. It is made in a cast iron skillet, over the stove and would puff up to have an eggy, custardy texture in the inside (similar to a souffle!).
My recipe adaptation uses the oven to cook the pancake, so you will need a big glass dish for this one. Not only is it less messy but baking it in an enclosed chamber like the oven really helps to keep the fragrance of the batter and sweet gala apples. There is also a smaller chance of burning over the stove top and making a mess.
This German apple puff pancake requires very basic ingredients which are easy to find:
- Whole milk – Choose whole milk over 2% or fat-free, as it makes the batter more fluffy and has a richer flavor.
- Large eggs – A must have in any pancake recipe is eggs.
- Sugar – To sweeten the batter just a bit!
- Vanilla extract – Infuses an irresistible aroma to pancake batter, or any batter for the matter!
- Salt – A little bit of salt to compliment the sweet.
- Cinnamon – A trusty companion to any apple dessert, cinnamon brings out flavors of fall. This will be used in the pancake batter and in the apple mixture.
- Baking powder – Gives that oomph factor to the pancake making it puff up.
- All purpose flour – Can swap with almond flour for gluten-free flour depending upon your diet.
- Unsalted butter – To soften and butter the apples in the skillet.
- Gala Apples – Of all the apples I’ve tried, gala red apples in-season have just the right amount of crunch and give out the best taste for this recipe. Although sour, green granny smiths are also very popular!
- Golden brown sugar – To coat and caramelize the apples.
- Powdered sugar – Sprinkled over the top of apple puff pancakes.
So, how do you make this oven-baked apple puff pancake?
Begin by preheating the oven to 425F.
Prepare the apples. Peel the skin off and remove the core. Using an apple corer to push into the middle of the apple would be the fastest and easiest way. Alternatively, you can cut the apple into quarters and use a paring knife to carve out the core. Slice the apples thinly.
Melt some butter in a skillet. Lay the apple slices in the skillet and pour in brown sugar and cinnamon powder (lovely mix of cinnamon sugar which can also be dusted over at the end of the recipe!). Mix for 10 minutes until the apples have caramelized and softened.
Then, make the batter. Whisk large eggs in a small bowl until smooth. In a large bowl, pour in the whisked eggs and whisk in milk, sugar, vanilla, salt, and cinnamon until well blended.
Fold in the flour and baking powder, whisking until the batter is smooth. Do this for at least a minute or two, ensuring no clumps of flour remain. Let sit.
Melt the remaining butter in a glass baking dish, baking for about 5 minutes. Watch carefully at this step, making sure the butter doesn’t burn. Remove the dish from the oven and promptly place the apple slices atop melted butter in the baking dish.
Then quickly whisk the batter again for 15 seconds, creating bubbles, and pour batter evenly over the apples. When pouring the batter evenly over the apples, do not mix it together or spread it around after pouring into the glass dish.
Bake the pancake until it has risen and browns, which should take about 20 minutes. Sprinkle it with powdered sugar and serve warm.
Expert Tips and Tricks
My secret for making the best German apple pancakes? It’s all in the technique. Here are some pro tips you might want to try:
- Adjust the baking time with a glass dish – A material like glass will absorb heat quicker than other materials, which is why I stop the timer at 20 minutes. We don’t want to overcook the pancake batter (no dry pancakes here!). If you don’t have a glass dish, use a metal baking pan and increase the time by 10 minutes. Ceramic is my least favorite – it takes the longest time to bake and that means we have to wait longer before digging in!
- Use an electric mixer to get airy pancakes – A fluffy, pillowy texture like those famous Japanese souffles can be achieved in your pancake by incorporating more air into the batter. An electric mixer does this more efficiently than whisking the batter by hand (which is a workout on its own!) and if you’re willing to spare the time cleaning up the mixer, turn up the speed by all means!
Apple puff pancakes are made for sharing. If there are leftovers, they can always be kept as a creamy late-night snack or for breakfast the next day.
To store, place pancakes in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 2 days. When ready to serve, microwave or bake the pancakes until warm. Do not freeze pancakes as they will turn mushy during the process of thawing.
If you liked this pancake recipe, why not try my sweet breakfast recipes? They make the perfect weekend treat!
Apple Puff Pancake Recipe
- 1 ¼ cup whole milk
- 4 large eggs, whisked
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon (in pancake batter)
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- 12 tablespoons (1 ½ sticks) un-salted butter
- 3 Gala Apples, peeled, cored, thinly sliced
- ¾ cup golden brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons cinnamon (in apple mixture)
- powdered sugar
- maple syrup (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Peel, core and thinly slice your apples.
- Melt 6 Tbsp (¾ stick) of butter in a skillet. Add apple slices and mix in ¾ cup of brown sugar and 2 tablespoons of cinnamon. Mix on medium low simmer until apples have softened 5- 10 minutes.
- Whisk eggs in a small bowl until smooth. Then add whisked eggs to a large bowl and whisk in milk, sugar, vanilla, salt, and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon until well blended.
- Add flour and baking powder whisking until the batter is smooth. Whisk for at least one minute or two ensuring no clumps of flour remain. Let sit.
- Place remaining (¾ stick) of butter cut into thin squares in 13×9-inch glass baking dish. Place the dish in the oven until butter melts and starts bubbling, about 5 minutes. Do not burn butter watch carefully at this step. Remove the dish from the oven.
- Promptly place the apple slices mixture atop melted butter in the baking dish.
- Then quickly whisk the batter again for 15 seconds creating bubbles and pour batter evenly over the apples. When pouring the batter evenly over the apples do not mix it together or spread it around after pouring into the glass dish.
- Bake pancake until puffed and brown, about 20 minutes. Sprinkle it with powdered sugar and serve warm.