This recipe is a treasure. Not just because it hits all the hot buttons of great home cooking: delicious, easy, and nourishing, but largely because of its source.
It’s from Cecil, a family friend of Mr. Mom’s Kitchen who was his father’s longtime BFF (can you refer to a man north of 70 as a BFF?). Ever since my father-in-law died 15 plus years ago, Cecil has treated Mr. Mom’s Kitchen, and the rest of us, with the kind of interest and tenderness usually reserved for immediate family.
Cecil tells a killer story, has more tricks up his sleeve for entertaining the kids than a magician, and the sort of twinkly blue eyes you might expect to see on Santa Claus. When we stayed with him and his lovely bride, Martha, a few summers ago in the Colorado mountain retreat they call home, he whipped up a batch of these puffy pancakes to rave reviews.
On that particular day, Cecil added sliced peaches, in season at the time, and cooked the pancakes in individual six-ounce ramekins. What resulted were tasty, tender puffy pancakes with a high dose of drama as they rose to impressive heights, defying the altitude of our locale.
I asked Cecil for the recipe and just recently made it for a weekend breakfast. I don’t have the proper ramekins, but found the wide-mouthed eight-ounce Mason jars I use for making jam work beautifully. They’re inexpensive, are available in supermarkets and hardware stores, and are handy for any number of cooking applications. Apparently they’re also quite trendy considering there’s a new and very charming cookbook devoted to making Desserts in Jars.
If you have neither ramekins nor jars, you likely do have a cake pan, which is all you need for one giant puffy pancake, just as tasty as the mini ones. I’ve done it this way a couple of times when I am a little short on time.
What I like about the recipe is it calls for four eggs and a full cup of milk, which adds a fair bit of protein relative to typical pancakes. The kids aren’t going to show up hungry 10 minutes after breakfast. I use whole wheat pastry flour in place of all-purpose, which adds nourishment as well.
Make this for your kids in a cake pan for a school day breakfast and they’ll think you’re supermom.
Make it for company in charming little jars and your friends may feel as well cared for by you as we did by Cecil.
Cecil’s Puffy Apple Cinnamon Pancakes
This recipe makes five individual puffy pancakes, but the batter will cook up beautifully in an eight-inch cake pan. The instructions are the same either way. Feel free to use other fruits here, depending on the season. If you are making this in a hurry, you can skip the apples and simply sprinkle the cinnamon/sugar over the top before baking.
Canola oil or non-stick cooking spray
2 Tablespoons butter
1 large crisp apple
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1 cup low fat milk
Special equipment: Five 8-ounce, wide-mouthed mason jars or five 6-ounce ramekins.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Coat the sides of the jars with oil or cooking spray. Put a piece of butter in the bottom of each jar, dividing the 2 tablespoons evenly amongst the jars. Set jars in a baking pan and put in the oven to melt the butter. Once the butter is melted remove the baking pan with the jars.
While the butter is melting, peel the apple, remove the core, and cut into a 1/3-inch dice. In a small bowl, mix the apple together with the sugar and cinnamon. Set aside.
Crack the eggs into a medium bowl, ideally one with a lip for pouring. Whisk the eggs well until they are light yellow and a little foamy. Add the flour and milk and beat again until silky smooth with no visible lumps.
Pour the batter into the jars. Spoon the diced apple on top of the batter, dividing evenly amongst the jars.
Put the pan with the jars into the oven and bake until the pancakes puff up generously and are golden brown across the top, about 20 minutes.
Remove from oven and serve, being cautious because the jars and pancakes will be hot.
Delicious with maple syrup and your favorite jam on the side.