Sometimes when I try something new, I scratch my head and wonder, “Where did that come from?” One never knows where inspiration lies. Such is the case with my recipe for Smoky-Maple Apple Dutch Baby. Far in the reaches of my subconsciousness came an idea about getting apple slices infused with a light smoky flavor. I am still pinching myself and asking, “Did I really make this?” Yes, I did. I can’t deny it.
During the month of October, I wanted to feature apples in a new recipe. Over a couple of weeks, I tested different flavors to find a combination highlighting apples in a new way. It occurred to me, sweet, caramelized and smoky accents are wonderful flavors with crispy apples. So, instead of using butter and brown sugar, I sautéed apple slices in rendered bacon fat and maple syrup to develop the smoky-sweet flavor I was looking for. To my delighted surprise, it worked.
I did whaat? I sautéed apples in bacon fat. Ever so clearly, I can hear in my mind two opposing reactions to my confession. One, “OH man, that is so good.” The other being, “Nooo. You did what? Bacon fat? Really?.” Admittedly, I am split on both sides of the fence. However, I am moving forward and not looking back. Unanimously, my quest for flavor overruled all other concerns. It is funny because I never cook like this. Don’t get me wrong I love bacon, but bacon fat is something I freeze then throw away, not cook with. Cooking with bacon fat was a no-no in my childhood home and a lesson I learned early in life. Regardless, using the rendered bacon fat, instead of butter, added the natural smoky accent I wanted. No apologies.
Call this a rebellion from my upbringing, but these apple slices cooked in bacon fat and maple syrup are addictive. The smoky-maple flavors are subtle, but work well against the light-custard foundation of the Dutch Baby Pancake. It is not too sweet or too rich, which sometimes occurs when using brown sugar and butter. A light sprinkle of freshly grated nutmeg adds a little warm spice. Fresh rosemary and lemon juice brighten all the flavors and bring them together. Since a light hand is used for seasoning the Apple Dutch Baby, all the flavor accents behave and work harmoniously together. The apple is the star, with the pancake and everything else the supporting actors.
More Breakfast Recipes:
This recipe is part of a collaborative apple recipe project with other food bloggers on social media. The tag, #aisforalltheapples, is going live on October 25, 2017, and you’ll find over 70 photos featuring the best apple recipes on Instagram and other social media platforms. Additionally, you can visit their websites using a direct link to each apple recipe. Please note, at the time of my publication, some of the links below will direct you to a 404 page. Please, don’t get alarmed. All the posts publishing on or by October 25th, but not at the same time. The 404 page will redirect you to the home page and you can search for the recipe. I will update my post as everything gets published. Thank you for your patience.
Hope you enjoy #aisforalltheapples, and my Smoky-Maple Apple Dutch Baby.
Smoky Maple Apple Dutch Baby Pancake
For the Smoky-Maple Apples
- 1 medium crispy apple like Honey Crisp or Yellow Delicious
- 2 TB (26 g) bacon fat*, or butter (31 g)
- 2 TB (38 g) real maple syrup
- Freshly grated nutmeg
For the Smoky-Maple Apple Dutch Baby
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 cup (125 ml) milk
- 1 tsp vanilla or 1 TB Apple Brandy (Calvados)
- 1 TB (13 g) granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup (74 g) all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
- 2 TB (31 g) butter
- Smoky-Maple Apple Slices
- 1 tsp or less minced fresh rosemary plus more for garnish
- Optional- 1 slice bacon cooked and crumbled
- Fresh squeezed lemon juice
- Powdered sugar for garnish
Pre-heat the oven to 425°F (218 °C)
Prepare the apples
Peel and core the apple and slice into rounds, 1/4 inch (6 mm) thick.
Heat a large 10-inch (25 cm) skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Once hot, add the bacon fat and maple syrup. Stir with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula to combine. Arrange the sliced apples in a single layer around the skillet. (You will need to cook the apple slices in a couple of batches.) Grate nutmeg over each slice of apple. Cook undisturbed for about 2 minutes. Turn the apple slices over, grate more nutmeg and cook until the apples are softened, but still firm and hold its shape, 1-2 minutes. Place the cooked apple slices on a plate and continue with the remaining apples. The glazed apple slices could stick together so do not stack them on the plate. You may need more than one plate to hold the smoky-maple apple slices.
Make the Smoky-Maple Apple Dutch Baby Pancake
Clean the skillet and place in the pre-heated oven.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, sugar, salt, and vanilla or Calvados. Add the flour and whisk until completely combined and there are no lumps.
Add the butter to the skillet in the oven.
When the butter is melted and stopped bubbling, remove the skillet from the oven then tilt the pan to make sure the melted butter is evenly coated across the bottom and sides of the skillet. The butter may brown a little but that adds more flavor. You don't want the butter to burn so watch it carefully.
Pour the batter into the center of the pan. Layer as many apple slices around the pancake batter as you like. It is ok to overlap the apple slices here. Sprinkle the minced rosemary over the apple slices. If you are adding crumbled bacon, sprinkle it over the apples now. Return the skillet to the oven.
Bake the Dutch Baby pancake for 20 minutes. Don't open the oven door until at least 15 minutes goes by. You can check the pancake through the lighted window in your oven. The Apple Dutch Baby won't rise and bubble until it gets sufficiently hot. The pancake is done when the sides have risen, and the surface is golden brown.
Remove the Apple Dutch Baby from the oven and lightly garnish with some minced rosemary if needed. Squeeze lemon juice (about 1/2 a lemon) all around the Dutch Baby.
Serve immediately for breakfast garnished with a light coating of powdered sugar and bacon on the side. Or, for dessert with ice cream and caramel sauce.
* If you are like me and don't save your rendered bacon fat, cook at least 4-6 slices of bacon in the skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Use the same skillet you plan to use for the Dutch Baby and sautéing the apples. It all depends on your bacon, but you should get plenty of rendered bacon fat to cook the apples with. Or cook enough bacon for your whole family or friends to enjoy with their Apple Dutch Baby and reserve 2 tablespoons of rendered bacon fat for the apples.
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© 2017 – 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.
Breakfast, how I love thee, let me count the ways. I love thee for the replenishment after an evening’s fast. I love thee for the breakfast coffee which awakens me from my evening slumber. I love thee for the simple unpretentious food like cereal, eggs, toast and fruit which ease me into a new day. I love thee for the endless sweet and savory discoveries that enlighten me.
Alas, more breakfast love has come my way in the form of a new breakfast discovery. It is not sexy or fancy, but belongs in the simple and unpretentious category – baked oatmeal. I happen to like oatmeal, and all hot cereal, so I am open-minded to this idea of baking it. However, if you are not a fan of oatmeal this might be the recipe that will win you over. It is one of the easiest and adaptable breakfast recipes around.
For the last 50 something years, I have been dutifully stirring a pot of oatmeal to just the right consistency, without ever questioning if there was a better way. That was foolish of me, because there is. What a novel idea. It is so simple, I am kicking myself for not thinking of this earlier. Apparently, it is an old secret because the Amish have been baking oatmeal for generations.
Baked oatmeal is rolled oats layered between fruit and sweetened with maple syrup and milk. It is like a cross between a bread pudding and a fruit crumble without the crunch. It is not custardy or rich like bread pudding, but there is a similar texture. The rolled oats absorb the maple syrup and milk, plus the juices of all the fruit and spices while it is baking. This process transforms oatmeal from an indistinguishable porridge to a healthy baked breakfast treat. It is so good, you will believe you are eating dessert for breakfast, minus the guilt.
While I was baking breakfast rolled oats, the house filled with the sweet scent of maple syrup, apple pie and oatmeal cookies. It was quite intoxicating. I had almost forgotten how magical these aromas can be. Despite the fact I had just eaten lunch, the smell of baked oatmeal made me so hungry, I became impatient for the oatmeal to finish. This seductive smell is very persuasive and could convert any oatmeal skeptic to grab a spoon and dig in. Certainly, I wish I knew about this 28 years ago when I tried, and miserably failed, to get my kids to eat hot cereal. I can imagine their chiming, “Is it done yet? Can I have some?”
Easy Adaptations for Baked Oatmeal
As I mentioned earlier, baked oatmeal is one of the most adaptable recipes around. If you are on a non-dairy diet, substitute milk with unsweetened coconut milk or almond milk. If you are on a vegan diet, substitute with non dairy milk and a flaxseed egg substitute. Full disclosure, I have tested that yet, but I don’t see why it would not work. If you make this a vegan breakfast, please let me know how it goes.
Additionally, use your favorite fruit or whatever is in season. I made this fruit filling because I needed to use up some leftover dried fruit from my pantry. The dried figs, apricots and cranberries went perfectly with apples and minced ginger. Follow the basic recipe, then substitute the fruit with any seasonal fruit you have available, even frozen fruit. They all work. If raisins are the only fruit you want to use, then you will need a fresh fruit like apples, or bananas sliced lengthwise and cover the bottom of the pan. Mix the raisins with the rolled oats and proceed as directed. The fruit on the bottom of your baking dish will help prevent the oats from sticking to the pan.
Heidi Swanson of 101 Cookbooks, is my primary source and where I first discovered this simple but remarkable breakfast. For this recipe, I followed a basic formula I found consistent in most baked oatmeal recipes. Typically, they all had about 2 cups of rolled oats, 2 cups of liquid, 1 egg, melted butter, a sweetener, and various amounts of fruit and spices.
March is a tweener month for fresh produce, and why this recipe includes apples and dried fruit. I love to combine fresh and dried fruits. The concentrated flavors of the dried fruit add a lot of fruit flavor. Plus, I had a lot of odd amounts of dried fruit that I needed to use up, and this recipe is perfect for that. My baked oatmeal has a decent amount of fruit in it, but if you want a ratio of more oatmeal than fruit, it is easy to scale the fruit down. Just make sure there is a good fruit layer on the bottom of your pan.
Baked oatmeal is also easy to make ahead and reheat it for a later time. I like to make it on a Sunday morning, then reheat individual portions in the microwave throughout the week. This makes the work week easier to manage when I don’t have to think about what’s for breakfast. You can also prepare it ahead, refrigerate, then reheat the whole dish, covered in aluminum foil, in the oven.
To be honest, I was surprised at how good baked oatmeal is. However, there is one downsize, and that is I used three bowls to make it. Baked oatmeal may require more cleanup, but it is more enjoyable to eat than the standard stove top recipe. This is one new discovery worth making. Oh baked oatmeal, how I love thee.
Baked Oatmeal with Apples and Apricots
- 2 apples which can be different varieties but should be ones that do not get too mushy when baked
- 6 dried apricots
- 6 dried figs
- ¼ - ½ cup dried cranberries
- 1 heaping Tbs of minced ginger
- ½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg 1/4 tsp if using store bought ground nutmeg
- Juice of half a lemon
- 2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
- Shy ½ cup chopped walnuts optional
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp Kosher salt
- ½ tsp ground ginger optional
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 Tbs melted butter
- 2 cups milk or unsweetened nondairy milk - like coconut or almond milk
- 1/3 cup real maple syrup
- 1 egg
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 375˚F / 190˚C / Gas Mark 5 and place the rack on the top third of the oven. Generously butter an 8’ x 8” (20cm square) baking pan.
Core and slice the apples then chop into decent bite size pieces. There is no need to peel the apples. Mince the dried apricots into pieces between ¼ inch to ½ inch big. Chop the dried figs into bite size pieces.
Add the prepared fruit into a mixing bowl, then add lemon juice, freshly ground nutmeg, and minced ginger. Mix well to get all the fruit evenly distributed. Set aside.
In another bowl mix together the rolled oats, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ground ginger, and most of the chopped walnuts. (Reserve some walnuts to sprinkle on the top). Mix the ingredients together to get evenly combined. Set aside.
In a third bowl, whisk together the milk, maple syrup, pure vanilla extract, and room temperature melted butter until thoroughly mixed together. Set aside.
Putting it all together.
Add a good layer of the prepared fruit to generously cover the bottom of the buttered baking dish. Add the oatmeal and spread it to cover the layer of fruit. Pour the milk mixture all over the oatmeal, and tilt the pan to encourage the milk to flow into all corners and throughout the oatmeal. Bang the pan against the counter to make sure the milk has flowed completely through the rolled oats and fruit. Add the remaining fruit and chopped nuts to cover the top of the oatmeal.
Bake for 35 – 45 minutes until it is golden brown on top and looks set in the middle.
Remove the baked oatmeal from the oven and let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes.
Spoon portions of the baked oatmeal in a bowl and serve warm plain, or with additional milk or yogurt. I think it is sweet enough as is, but add more maple syrup if you want it sweeter.
Store in the refrigerator covered for several days. Re-heat in the microwave in a glass container covered with a paper towel.
© 2017 – 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.
There is no denying it, the heat is turned on and the leaves are turning and dropping. Summer is over. Fall has established itself and cast a deciduous mosaic of red, orange, yellow, brown, and green leaves gleaming across the hillsides. Along with the change of season, the tempo has picked up. The quiet and relaxed pace of summer is replaced with back to business with intense purpose. No more half days on Fridays.
Despite the hurried tempo, cooler temperatures, and reminder that winter is not too far away, I love fall. It is a great time to play outside, hiking, gardening, sightseeing and foraging the last of the season’s bounty. Even though the growing season is ending, there continues to be an ample selection of vegetables and fruits to buy at the market before everything dies down for the winter. Fall belongs to apples, winter squash, pears, persimmons, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, and so much more.
Recently, I visited a local apple orchard, Stuart’s Fruit Farm. It was heartwarming to see many couples, families, or just friends walking around the orchard picking apples, enjoying a crisp and sunny fall day. Children’s laughter and the excited child pitch, “I got one!” echoed across the orchard. Glee, family love, activity, and the sweet aroma of fermenting apples with trampled grass enveloped me as I walked about. I saw in the faces of the playing children the reflection of my own children as preschoolers, running and climbing around the same trees. When you are surrounded by your history, it is easy to see how simultaneously time stands still and moves forward.
I am grateful that Stuarts Fruit Farm is still here. A lot of apple orchards sold off their land to developers in the late 1980’s and 1990’s. The land is very valuable and farming work is difficult to make profitable. Stuart’s Fruit Farm recently received grants and secured a conservation easement from The Westchester Land Trust. These combined efforts will protect the farm land from development and allow the Stuart Family to own the land and continue to farm there. Stuarts has been an operating family farm since 1828, and is the “oldest working family farm in Westchester County,” (LoHud July 11, 2016).
I went to Stuarts with two purposes, take photographs of the apple orchard and buy apples. I feel so fortunate to be able to drive 6 minutes and step out on farm land. It is so close to home, I could ride my bike, or walk to the farm if I was so inspired. I love being able to go out in my neighborhood buy fruit and vegetables grown on the very same land. It is amazing to me that I live in a suburban NYC metropolitan area and have an apple orchard in my neighborhood. The additional bonus is it is not the only family farm in the Somers/Yorktown area.
I returned home with a memory card full of images, a bag full of apples, and a desire to make apple pie. Being that it was late in the afternoon, I did not have enough time to prepare a pie crust, so I decided on one of my best and easiest dessert recipes I have, Swedish Apple Pie. It is the perfect recipe for any last-minute impulse bake or invitation to dine. Swedish Apple Pie is more like a cake in texture, but because apples are the main ingredient, it satisfies like a pie.
I first discovered this dessert staying at the home of a college friend. Fortunately, her mom gave me the recipe and I have made Swedish Apple Pie for over 30 years. All you have to do is peel and slice apples, mix together flour, sugar, egg, and butter, then pour the batter over the apples and bake. It is that easy. For people who say they cannot bake, this dessert is for you. You mix it by hand without any special equipment, just a pie pan. Even if you don’t own a pie pan, just buy the aluminum pans available at the grocery store. The pie will taste just as delicious. You can make this recipe with confidence knowing it is a delicious and easy dessert that all will love.
Swedish Apple Pie is a family favorite dessert that I can practically make in my sleep. My family loves this pie so much, one of my sons asked to have it as his “Birthday Cake.” Making Swedish Apple Pie will not interrupt your play time during this gorgeous fall season. You can spend the day outside and have time leftover to bake Swedish Apple Pie. Fill your home with the aromas of baking apples and cinnamon and a reminder of a beautiful fall day well spent.
Best Apples to use for baking pie: Serious Eats recommends Braeburn and Golden Delicious apples for making pie.
I have also had good results with Granny Smith and Cortland. You want to use a crisp and drier apple, one that will not turn into applesauce when baked.
Swedish Apple Pie
- 5-6 apples Granny Smith, or other crisp and not too sweet apple *see notes
- 1-2 Tb granulated sugar
- 1-2 tea ground cinnamon
- 1 cup 4 oz/ 117 g all-purpose flour
- 1 cup 7 5/8 oz/ 218 g granulated sugar
- 1 stick (1/2 cup/ 4 oz/ 113 g) butter
- 1 egg
- Zest of one lemon or juice of half a lemon (optional)
- Heaping 1/4 tea of freshly grated nutmeg. If you own ground nutmeg just use a level 1/4 tea (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Use a 9-inch pie pan (Pyrex or metal pans are preferred)
Melt the butter set aside to cool.
Peel, core and slice each apple and put into pie pan. Slice the apples no bigger than 1/2 inch across the bottom of each slice. The size of your pan and the size of your apples will depend on how many apples you will need. If you have a regular 9-inch pie pan start with 5 apples. You want the apples to fill the inside of the pie pan and have a slightly rounded top. Add more apples if it looks flat and you see bare spots. Optional - squeeze the juice of 1/2 a lemon. Toss to mix.
In a small bowl mix the 1-2 Tb of sugar with the cinnamon. The amount of sugar depends on the type of apple you are using. If you are using Granny Smith Apples you should use the full amount of sugar because they are not that sweet. All other apples are sweeter and might require using less sugar.
Sprinkle the sugar cinnamon mixture over the top of the apples in a nice even layer.
In medium size bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, ground nutmeg, and lemon zest until just combined. Add the cooled melted butter and egg, then stir until the batter is thoroughly mixed. Make sure you scrape down the sides and across the bottom of the bowl to mix in all the flour.
Spoon the batter over the apples starting at the center and working your way around the pan. The batter will be thick but still fluid, and will slightly ease over the apples and into holes. Try to evenly spread the batter in an even layer all around the apples, then spread it into any holes. The batter should read as one smooth top.
Put the pie pan on a sheet pan and place in the oven. Bake, checking to see if it is done beginning at the 45-minute mark. The cooking time will vary depending on the number of apples you have. For me, it has consistently baked at least an hour and often a little longer. The pie is done when the crust is golden brown all across the top, and none of the crust looks uncooked. You will get some crispy crust along the edges and a cake-like middle, not mushy, or too moist.
When it is done baking, take the pie out of the oven and let it completely cool to room temperature before serving.
Serve with vanilla ice cream or creme anglais. Caramel sauce is a delicious addition with the ice cream.
When testing this recipe I used Cortland Apples. Over the years I have used many different types of apples, but the best ones are apples that are well suited to baking. Some good examples are, Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, and Cortland apples. You want very crisp apples that are not too sweet. You can even use more than one type of apple. McIntosh apples and Red Delicious apples do not work well because they are a softer apple and your pie will become apple sauce.
© 2016 – 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.