If I were forced, because it was my job or something terrible like that, to come up with some sort of World Cup of Pancakes ranking system, it would go something like this: rumpled bed sheet-like pancakes > flat, round disc pancakes. Pancakes with fresh fruit, baked and leaky within > pancakes without fresh fruit inside. Pancakes recipes that instruct only “mix everything” > pancake recipes that make you separate wet, dry and other ingredients. Pancakes that I can decide to make on a whim and have on my plate in just over 20 minutes > pancakes that will find me still ladling, flipping, turning over a hot frying pan with 2/3 of the seemingly interminable bowl of batter still to go 20 minutes later.
Not that I’ve given this matter any serious thought or anything. Surely there are more pressing things that should warrant my attention [such as this apartment that won’t clean itself, or debating whether we should move to a new one (that perhaps will?), or how to unload the 25 cookbooks I just thinned from my bookshelves, something I don’t think would feel more satisfying if I had thinned them from my actual person, etc.] But it’s summer and my brain and ambition have already gone soft. The markets are awash in cherries, and if I could get away with it, I’d spend the next few weeks eating them for every meal of the day.
Until then, this will do quite nicely. We make the David Eyres/German/Dutch Baby-style baked pancake regularly throughout the year, but my results when adding fresh fruit have been mixed — they taste good but the weight of the fruit seems to inhibit the wrinkle, crinkle and ruffle formation without which this would just be a boring old thick crepe. But the cherries worked surprisingly well here; once pitted and lightly sautéed, they’re light enough to not act as dead weights, and when baked until they leak dribbles of juice across the almond-scented pancake and are then scattered with very well-toasted* almonds, powdered sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice, I guarantee your day will be made. If, perhaps, your day still resists being made, then you should add a small scoop of vanilla bean ice cream on top.
One year ago: Pickled Vegetable Sandwich Slaw
Two years ago: Triple Berry Buttermilk Bundt
Three years ago: Blueberry Yogurt Multigrain Pancakes
Four years ago: Bread and Butter Pickles and Blue Cheese and Red Potato Tart
Five years ago: Neapolitan Cake
Six years ago: Sweet Cherry Pie and Project Wedding Cake: An Introduction
Seven years ago: Dilled Potato and Pickled Cucumber Potato Salad (still a favorite!)
Cherry Almond Dutch Baby
Adapted from Sunset Magazine
Let’s talk about almonds for a minute: I think those waxy, often stale, and flavorless cream-colored discs sold as sliced almonds are absolutely terrible tasting — from the package. But I buy them anyway because they are so magically transformed by toasting, becoming crisp, sweet and intensely fragrant, that I want to put them on everything when I’m not eating them straight. Please, do not go easy on your almonds; spread them on a tray, bake them for 8 to 10 minutes at 350, tossing them around once or twice for even color, and not taking them out until they’re deeply golden brown. Make more than you’ll need so you’ll have them for everything else (like broccoli slaw!).
* This contains my favorite vanilla bean ice cream recipe. This buttermilk ice cream and this fennel ice cream would be equally wonderful here or wherever else there is baked fruit if your tastes veer from the purely traditional.
Serves 2 generously or 4 petitely
3 large egg
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon almond extract (more or less to taste)
Pinch of salt
4 tablespoons butter
2 cups pitted sweet cherries
1/2 cup sliced almonds, well-toasted
Heat oven to 425°F. Whisk egg, sugar, flour, milk, extract and salt together until the batter is blended but lumpy; you can also do this in a blender. In a 12-inch ovenproof frying pan, melt butter. Add cherries and cook until warmed, about 2 minutes. Pour in batter and transfer to heated oven. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden brown and rumpled-looking. (I err on the side of more cooking time with these pancakes, because I find the longer, within a range, they cook, the more rumpled and golden they get.)
Remove pancake from oven and quickly scatter with toasted almonds, dust with powdered sugar and squeeze lemon juice over. Serve in wedges, piping hot.