Sheryl Canter

Recipe for Cast Iron: German Pancake with Apples

As part of my recent purge of nonstick cookware, I acquired my very first cast iron skillet – a vintage large-logo Griswold. I removed all the old crud with oven cleaner and then reseasoned it. Rust was minimal, so I was able to scrub it off with steel wool. (For more on cleaning and seasoning cast iron, see my previous post.)

Griswold #7 cast iron skillet, large logo

Griswold #7 cast iron skillet, large logo

Griswold #7 cast iron skillet, large logo

Griswold #7 cast iron skillet, large logo

I’ve been interested in recipes that use the skillet’s unique properties: nonstick, stove to oven, even heating, and good heat retention. So I decided to make a German Pancake – also known as a Dutch Baby – stuffed with apples. I looked at several recipes and then came up with my own spin on it. I’d never had a German Pancake before so I didn’t know what to expect. I was amazed when I took my first bite. It was exquisitely delicious. Here’s the recipe.

German pancake with apples in cast iron skillet

German pancake with apples in cast iron skillet

German Pancakes with Apples

  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ cup unbleached white flour (preferably with germ)
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 apples (I used Fuji)
  • 3 tbsp raw sugar

Set the oven to 450°F. While it’s heating up, prepare the apples and batter.

Peel the apples, slice them into ¼” pieces about 1-2″ square. Try to make the pieces relatively uniform in size so they cook evenly. Set aside.

Beat the eggs. Add the milk, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt and beat in. Measure the flour, but don’t mix in yet.

Melt the butter in the skillet on medium-high heat. When the butter starts to foam, add in the apples and sprinkle the sugar evenly over them. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Just before the apples are done, mix the flour into the egg mixture. Beat until just smooth (no lumps). Don’t overmix. Then pull the apples about an inch in from the edge of the skillet and pour in the batter, starting at the edge and then filling in the middle. Put the skillet in the oven, and immediately reduce the temperature to 425°F. Bake for 20 minutes, until brown and puffed. Invert on a platter to serve.

German pancake with apples on plates

German pancake with apples on plates

If you don’t wash the skillet immediately, the sugar will harden like rock candy. But no worries. Just boil some water in it, and the sugar will come right out.

I couldn’t believe how good this was. I don’t know what I expected, but this exceeded it! If you try the recipe, let me know how it turns out for you.

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22 Comments

  1. Amy:

    Yum, I will try this soon. I love my cast-iron skillets…just have the old standard Lodge brand. Will have to look into Griswold…do you think there’s much of a difference? I rarely season mine, just rub some olive oil into them with a paper towel after cleaning.

  2. Sheryl Canter:

    Lodge pans are probably fine, but I really love the old Griswold pans. The iron used in pans made before 1940 is much higher quality than what’s used today, and the quality of the casting is much higher, too. The interior of a Griswold skillet is glassy smooth, unlike a Lodge skillet, which is bumpy. Chefs say that glassy surface, when properly seasoned, is uniquely perfect for browning foods. Maybe true, maybe not – I don’t know firsthand because I don’t own any Lodge cast iron. Either way, Griswold pans are beautiful – impressive works of craftmanship.

    Also, new cast iron pans are “pre-seasoned” with weird coatings. From What’s Cooking America:

    All new cast iron frying pans and cast iron skillets have a protective coating on them, which must be removed. American companies use a special food-safe wax; imports are covered with a water-soluble shellac. In either case, scrub the item with a scouring pad, using soap and the hottest tap water you can stand.

    Well, they say you “must” remove the coating, but most people don’t. It’s certainly easier to use as-is, and probably it functions perfectly well, as you yourself can attest. But there is something about the high quality iron, high quality casting, and natural oil-and-heat seasoning of Griswold cast iron that is very appealing to me.

    All of which to say is, I don’t really know! I just love the old Griswold pans. :)

  3. Claudia:

    Thanks for sharing — I’ve now made this recipe several times and it’s been a success each time! I substituted pears for apples, and that worked out really well. I made mine in a modern Lodge 10″ skillet, but your old Griswold looks lovely :-)

  4. Priya:

    Sheryl,

    Thanks so much – this was delicious! The whole family enjoyed it. Only slight variation I made was using brown sugar instead of white.

  5. Nicole:

    Decided to make this for breakfast since we are stuck inside during the blizzard. We didn’t have any apples and obviously couldn’t go out to get some, instead I tossed 2 sliced bananas in melted butter and a little cinnamon sprinkled on top instead. It was delicious! A little different taste, but still amazing!

  6. bob perchard:

    Sheryl;

    Where I get confused is determining the size of the skillets. I hear all kinds of numbers, (#7,#10), but that doesn’t tell me the diameter of the skillet.I can’t tell by the photos published either. Is there a way to match the numbers on the skillets with the diameter?

  7. Sarah McKenna:

    Bob, I had the same question. I found the answer on another web site (http://www.helium.com/items/1445154-tips-for-collecting-griswold-cast-iron-cookware):

    A few of the sizing numbers on skillets are as follows: A Number 2 skillet had a 4 3/4 inch diameter cooking base. A Number 3 skillet had a 5 1/4 inch diameter cooking base. A Number 4 skillet had a 5 3/4 inch diameter cooking base. A Number 5 skillet had a 6 3/4 inch diameter cooking base. A Number 6 skillet had a 7 1/2 inch diameter cooking base. A Number 7 skillet had a 8 1/4 inch diameter cooking base. A Number 8 skillet had a 8 7/8 inch diameter cooking base. A Number 9 skillet had a 9 1/2 inch diameter cooking base. A Number 10 skillet had a 10 inch diameter cooking base. A Number 11 skillet had a 10 7/8 inch diameter cooking base. A Number 12 skillet had a 11 3/4 inch diameter cooking base. A Number 13 skillet had a 12 3/4 inch diameter cooking base and a A Number 20 skillet had an amazing 18 inch diameter cooking base.

  8. David Hill:

    Hi Sheryl –

    What is the origin of the statements that cast iron was lower quality after 1940? I’m very curious about that. I have seen several different blogs state this, but I have not found the explanation. And assuming that this statement about the quality is correct, wouldn’t the later Wagner and Griswold production, after 1940, still be way better than Lodge today?

  9. Sheryl Canter:

    The molds were finer – more detailed, thinner – and the casts were finished better. Antique cast iron skillets have glass-like finishes on the inside whereas newer skillets are rough. You can see the difference just by comparing antique skillets and new skillets side-by-side. There is a huge difference in workmanship.

  10. David Hill:

    Ya, I can definitely see the difference between a Wagner of unknown age and a Lodge that I bought in 1996. What got me into this was that I was at my grandmother’s house a couple of weeks ago, and when I looked at her skillet. As always, I wondered “how the heck did she do that,” so I finally had the bright idea to look for a maker’s mark. What I found was what I later learned people on eBay describe as being the range of 1935-1959, so who know if hers is pre or post 1940, but the work is a quantum level beyond my 1996 Lodge. I felt like I’d been wasting my time on the Lodge, as the season has never really evened out… I guess my point is, if I was looking at the 1935 version and 1950 version of this same Wagner, would it be that different? I guess my adventures in skillet ownership will have to bear that out. In any case, thanks for the awesome blog posts. Yours is the best info I have found anywhere so far.

  11. David Hill:

    P.S. — I was hoping that someone would have a colorful story explaining how all the skillet makers had to retool for tank armor during the war, or something like that, and that the product was different after reverting to cookware… I would suppose something to do with the war is the obvious reason.

  12. Ben:

    David, the reason the quality of craftsmanship declined is indeed related to World War II.

    Polytetrafluoroethylene, usually referred to by the DuPont brandname of Teflon, was accidentally discovered in 1938, and was used by the Manhattan Project to coat valves and seals of the pipes which were used to hold uranium hexafluoride.

    This same material was used to make Teflon pans, first in France, and later on in the US. From then on, the cookware industry has largely focused on making a “better than Teflon” pan, pans that never need to be seasoned. Additionally, these companies make aluminum pans, which is a cheaper metal, and results in higher profit margins.

  13. Ben:

    As far as the recipe goes, I’ve made Dutch babies (without the apples) in a pie pan. I can definitely see the benefits of using cast-iron skillet from the above pictures.

    Serve them with lemon wedges (sprinkle the juice on top) and powdered sugar (dust them liberally after sprinkling with lemon juice). Absolutely amazing!

  14. Adrianne:

    Wow! Love the idea of making in the cast iron skillet! I have always used a stoneware pan which cooks beautifully. I also use my blender for mixing the batter. Super fast!

  15. Sheryl Canter:

    You can halve the recipe and make it in an 8″ skillet (No. 5 Griswold) for a single serving. I just did that.

    I tweaked the recipe a little in the original post. I found it was better not to beat the eggs until foamy, as I originally said. That’s the only thing I changed.

  16. Kim:

    When I was growing up, My mom and dad were divorced. Whenever I had trouble at home my dad would take me to bickfords for an Apple Pancake. Sounds funny that those are my favorite memories. I have a collection of cast iron now and can’t wait to make this recipe for my dad. The pics remind me of exactly what I remember growing up.

  17. Victoria 123:

    Mmm. I will have to try making Baby Dutch Apple Pancakes again. I can’t remember if it was a year or 2 years ago that this was my favorite dinner to cook once a week for the family. Kim wrote about Bickfords’ apple pancakes, those were good and my dh’s favorite which inspired me to try to make them as our local Bickfords closed several years ago. The waitresses could predict my dh’s order with 99% accuracy. In the recipe that I made, I let them begin to cook and then added my own version of a strudel like topping which I made by slicing up some think pieces of butter and mixing it with a bit of brown sugar, cinnamon, oats & chopped walnuts that I place ono top the pancake to make that crispy Bickfords-like topping. I also made tried making it with sliced pears and would used either pecans or almonds in my strudel like topping. My choice of nut depended on what I had in the larder.

    I landed here on your blog when looking for a new haircut. I printed your picture to show my hairdresser since your hair appears to be very much like mine. Then read what you wrote and discovered it was a DIY haircut (I am so impressed) and now I am seriously thinking of trying your method to cut my hair myself. I will have to purchase a decent pair of scissors to do the job, but I may just do this. I scheduled a mental health vacation day for this week so I will probably do it then. Not sure if I will make the Dutch Baby Pancake that day, but soon. Thanks for sharing your interests in a blog. *:) Victoria

  18. RDub:

    I did this in a 10.5″ lodge with 3 apples instead of two. It turned out perfect. I squeezed one slice of lemon over the fruit (it wasn’t that much), & then generously sprinkled the circumference of the pancake with powdered sugar. AMAZING.

  19. Mike Pry:

    Oh my my my!!! Was this ever good. Thanks so much for the recipe. I just did this but I tweaked it to be more heart healthy and it was still awesome. Here’s what I did……

    Flour substitute – Sweet Sorghum Flour (organic)
    Sugar – Coconut Blossom Sugar (organic)
    Butter – Cold Pressed Virgin Coconut Oil (organic)

    I used free range organic eggs as well and even with these substitutions it was indescribably delicious. Thanks so much not only for the killer recipe but for the flaxseed research as well!!!!

  20. Sheryl Canter:

    I’m glad you liked it! I couldn’t believe how good it turned out, either – that’s why I posted the recipe.

    Foods like these – even with your recipe tweaks – are in the past for me because, for serious health reasons, I no longer eat Neolithic foods (grain, dairy, nightshade plants, or anything processed or artificial). Since I love good food, I’ve been inventing new recipes to replace what I no longer eat. I have a growing collection of really good and easy to make paleo foods, and I’m thinking about posting these. I’ve also had to work out new habits and strategies so (1) I always have good-tasting Paleo food options, and (2) I don’t spend half my day on the work of feeding myself (grocery shopping, food prep, cleanup). These tips would make good posts, too.

    I use this blog to post things on many unrelated topics, which isn’t so good for search engines, and makes it impossible for me to promote the blog in any way. I’ve written a lot of posts with solutions to computer problems that get a lot of traffic and comments, and would be better in their own blog. Then there are the cast iron and cooking posts, which also would be better in their own dedicated blog. I’d just need to be careful to do this without breaking the links in from the outside.

  21. kaitlyn:

    “But no worries. Just boil some water in it, and the sugar will come right out.”

    So, it IS okay to boil water in cast iron?

  22. Sheryl Canter:

    Sure, you can boil water in a cast iron skillet briefly, but you wouldn’t let water sit in it for a long time. You wouldn’t make bone broth in a cast iron pan, or leave a cast iron pan in the sink to soak overnight.

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