Once again, we welcome the season of Advent, the time of expectation of and preparation for the celebration of the birth of Christ.
At home, the preparation actually began last Sunday, the Feast of Christ the King, when, late in the afternoon, we hung new lace curtains in the sun porch that faces the street as a frame for the lights and greenery that will come later in the month.
In the kitchen, I’ve been scrolling through old recipe books looking for the perfect “First Advent” pancake. Pancakes on the first night of Advent have been a tradition at our house for a number of years. Usually, I make my mother’s potato pancake recipe — one grated onion for every grated potato, a couple of raw eggs in the mix, some regular flour and a dollop of German pre-mix pancake flour as well for a zezty flavor until you have a nice, fryable batter.
Then I pan fry the pancakes in a light vegetable oil (usually canola) and serve them with warm apple sauce or cold sour cream while the first candle of Advent is glowing merrily in the Advent wreath on the large coffee table in the living room. Somehow, the pancakes and the glowing light become the perfect mix for the night.
This year, in honor of the wonderful German friend who passed this tradition on to me years ago, I looked for pancake recipes that would reflect her heritage and her personality by adding a spoonful of sugar to the mix. The result is an easy bake, puffy German apple pancake that will serve 8 people generously.
I still love Mom’s pancakes the best, but this is a wonderful alternative for the first Sunday in Advent and maybe even Christmas brunch to come.
Advent Apple Pancake
Ingredients: 6 eggs; 1 cup light cream; 2/3 cup flour; 1/2 tsp. salt; 3 medium apples (I used 1 Granny Smith, one large Macintosh and one Royal Gala), peeled, cored and sliced; 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice; 4 tablespoons butter; 1/4 cup dark brown sugar; 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and warm syrup of your choice.
Directions: in a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, flour and salt. Toss the apple clices with 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Melt the butter in a 13 x 9 baking dish or quiche dish in a preheated 425 degree oven. When the butter is melted, remove the dish from the oven and lay the apple slices evenly over the bottom. Pour the batter over the apples. In a separate bowl, mix together the brown sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over the batter. Bake for 20 minutes or until the pancake is puffed and brown. Remove from the oven and drizzle the remaining lemon juice sparingly over the pancake. Serve with warmed syrup and, if you dare, whipped cream.