Cast Iron

Oma's Apfelpfannkuchen (Apple Pancakes)

October 23, 2020
7 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom. Food Stylist: Samantha Seneviratne, Prop Stylist: Brooke Deonarine
Author Notes

With her ramrod-straight back and short, stocky physique, our Oma's physical bearing rivaled that of a military officer, but behind her formidable stature was a kind woman who loved her "American grandchildren" beyond measure. She’d admonish us but then quickly after, proffer a plum or a piece of chocolate.

As children, visiting Oma in Germany, food was central to our holiday's most memorable moments. We used to stop at kiosks in town and along the Rhine to eat pommes frites with little plastic forks and a side of mayonnaise. My brother Stephen and I delighted in Spaghettieis, vanilla ice cream made to look like pasta noodles with raspberry sauce and white chocolate shavings on top. We ate cold cuts and bread for breakfast and big, warm lunches of pork chops, peas, carrots, and mashed potatoes.

Nothing compared, however, to my grandmother’s cooking, especially her apfelpfannkuchen, or apple pancakes. The sweet and doughy concoctions were the size of dinner plates, layered with sliced apples and sprinkled with sugar. Composed of only a few basic ingredients—flour, eggs, milk, apples, sugar—the recipe was far from complicated. Everything she made was prepared on a small counter and cooked over a tiny electric stove.

For years now, my mother and I have made this recipe over and over—but it never quite tastes the same. It's always delicious, but missing that certain something. "It must be the apples," we say, but secretly we know—it's Oma we are missing. —Kristina Henry

Test Kitchen Notes

Featured in: My Oma’s Apple Pancakes—& Why They Never Taste the Same Without Her. —The Editors

  • Prep time 10 minutes
  • Cook time 10 minutes
  • Serves 2
  • 2 large eggs, separated
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup sparkling water (San Pellegrino or any carbonated water)
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 apple, peeled and thinly sliced (any tart apple will do, especially Granny Smith)
In This Recipe
  1. In a mixing bowl mix together the egg yolks, sugar, flour, baking powder, milk, mineral water and salt. (The batter consistency should be runny like a thick soup.)
  2. Whip the egg whites into soft peaks, using a handheld mixer. Fold into the batter mixture. The mixture can be adjusted for feel and taste (denser batter could use more flour etc.).
  3. Heat two tablespoons of oil in a small or medium cast iron pan. When hot, pour pancake batter in like you would to make a thick pancake and cook on medium heat.
  4. Add the sliced apples on top like you would on a tart.
  5. Run the spatula down around the edges and lift it gently to check firmness/doneness before flipping over.
  6. Turn over (you can flip onto the pan lid and slide back into the pan).
  7. Repeat for the second pancake.
  8. When done, let sit and serve with powdered sugar on top.

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