It’s a late Sunday morning and the smell of coffee is already lingering in the kitchen, an old mocha purring on the stove. There’s no time nor will for such decent coffee on a weekday morning, but weekends are a different story. The fridge is almost empty, the thought of having the same oatmeal with chopped nuts and dates I mechanically pull together most days is simply tiresome, and there’s no more bread, nor anything to eat the theoretical bread with. I look at the counter and there it is, a slightly wrinkled, forgotten apple.
My mom and grandma both made apple pancakes for me and my brother when we were little. Racuchy, Polish pancakes, are fried in oil and crispy on the outside, fluffy and rich. I don’t know the exact recipe, probably because every house has their own. The ones my mom made were prepared with little effort, big chunks of the fruit in every bite, crispy edges from frying in oil, thick to the extent of being semi-liquid in the middle for feeding purposes, as two pancakes were all I would eat. And then the ones my grandma used to prepare for us when we unexpectedly showed up for lunch: the apple shredded and hardly detectable.
The recipe I’m posting is a result of an attempt to recreate that quick meal, but it doesn’t quite render what I was going for, perhaps because I decided not to use any oil in the cooking process. The pancakes are, however, soft and melt-y on the tongue, with the warmth of cinnamon and the freshnes of cardamom shining through by the end of each bite. I would go here for the softer apples over the crunchy juicy kind; my apple was rather bland in flavor (it waited two weeks on the counter before I finally used it) but it still lent a subtle crunch. And then finally the sweet note of toasted hazelnuts, because if Sunday mornings are not for making the extra step in the kitchen, then I don’t know what is.
Polish Apple Pancakes
(makes 10-12 pancakes, depending on the size)
1 heaped tbsp ground flaxseed + 4 tbsp hot water
1 handful hazelnuts (or add an extra 2 tbsp flour)
¾ cup soymilk
1 tbsp oil
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 cup flour (I used ¼ whole-grain rye, ¾ farina di grano duro)
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp cardamom
1 medium apple
Mix flax with hot water in a medium bowl, set aside to thicken.
Toast the hazelnuts on a pan until fragrant, grind to coarse powder in a blender.
Peel and cube the apple, keeping the pieces quite small.
Start heating up a non-stick pan over low heat.
Add all the dry ingredients, with hazelnut flour, onto the flax, whisk with a fork a couple of times just to combine all the powders and spices with the flours. Add the soymilk, oil, mix everything, don’t worry if there is a lump or two.
Carefully fold in the apples.
At this point, the pan should be hot enough to cook the pancakes. A pan too cold causes the batter to stick, a pan too hot burns in on the outside while leaving it raw on the inside. A good way to test the temperature of the pan is to try with a drop of the batter. If it seems to dry on the edges immediately, you can start cooking.
Lay a tablespoon of batter into four circles on the pan, cook until bubbly on the upper side, about 3 minutes. Flip, cook for another 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate, optionally with a cover of foil to keep them hot.
Enjoy with a drizzle of maple syrup or a veil of powdered sugar, and a cup of Earl Gray.
Have a nice Sunday!