My Big Fat German Apple Pancakes!

Today I attended a culinary presentation and demonstration at Kendall College. Today’s presentation was on the Big Apple Pancake: Chicago’s Ultimate Comfort Food, presented by Steven L. Katz.
Steven L. Katz is an author and food writer whose recipes and articles have appeared in Gourmet, Bon Appetit, The Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post and more. Steve Katz grew up on Chicagos North Shore eating at Walker Bros. The Original Pancake House on Green Bay Road and has visited the original Original Pancake House in Portland, Oregon — where he met founder Les Highet. Steve’s parents grew up on Chicago’s North Shore Side and they loved the apple pancake at Chicago’s Red Star Inn Restaurant.

Steven L. Katz, author of “Chicago’s Big Apple” (The Chicago Tribune, January 10, 2007) reveals the whole sugar cinnamon glazed story of the baked German apple pancake in Chicago.
The presentation featured a Classic Baked German Apple Pancake Demonstration, tasting, and “Q and A” with Kendall College’s Heidi Hedeker, Chef of Pastry and Baking. Additionally, secret Chicago recipes for the Classic Baked German Apple Pancake was shared.
In addition to Steven & Heidi’s informative presentation, Patricia Penzey Erd, of The Spice House, shared a bit of history on cinnamon and the various kinds there are.
Patricia is the sister of Bill Penzey, owner of Penzeys Spices. Both are extremely knowledgeable on spices, so do check out Patricia’s website for The Spice House for all their quality spices!
Not only was the cooking/baking science explained behind the particular ingredients that are used to make a Classic Baked German Apple Pancake, the history of how pancake houses have evolved and the specific ties to Chicago were explained. The rich culinary history and science behind such a simple, comforting food truly gives one a greater appreciation of food in general.

Here is Saigon Cinnamon (also known as Vietnamese Cinnamon). Saigon Cinnamon is used primarily for its aromatic bark.
Here is Korintje Cinnamon. This cinnamon is a favorite in the baking industry. It has a 3.5% oil content making it more flavorful and robust than ordinary cinnamon.
Here is Ceylon “True” Cinnamon. Complex and fragrant, with a citrus overtone and rich buff color, Ceylon cinnmamon is unfamiliar to most Americans. Although less strong than cassia, it is prized in both England and Mexico where it is preferred over cassia for all uses.
Patricia also shared with us her prized cinnamon stick, which was signed by the famous Julia Child herself!

To make a Classic Baked German Apple Pancake,
here are some key ingredients & information to take note of:

The correct pan for the classic Baked German Apple Pancake is an 8″ inch non stick skillet with sloped sides and a three cup capacity. It is the standard pan used by restaurants that prepare th Baked German Apple Pancake.

Granny Smith Apples – they provide the right amount of tartness and can hold up to the high heat when its baked.
The apples are sliced and are placed in acidulated water — that is in water with
lemon juice and then sauteed for 3-4 minutes in 1 tablespoon of butter. The acidulated water helps the apple slices to maintain its shape and texture before introducing it to the pancake batter.
The streusel or cinnamon sugar mixture is one that can heat and melt enough to form a caramel, without hardening. This adds the sticky sweet element needed in a good Baked German Apple Pancake recipe.
In addition to eggs, skim milk and a touch of heavy cream, the dry ingredients in creating the pancake batter involves the use of Vital Wheat Gluten. This adds additional protein to the scientific makeup, allowing the pancake to “bubble up” around the edges – a special characteristic of big apple pancakes.

Here is the recipe that Steven & Heidi prepared for us at the event:

This recipe is prepared by lightly sauteing apples in butter and then laying them in a dry bed of blended sugar and cinnamon. The batter is then poured over the aples and the pan is placed in the oven.

The baking requires 1 hour, and is done in 3 steps:
1) Allow the pancake batter to “set up” by baking it for 25 minutes at 250 degrees;
2) (optional step) Allow the pancake to bake for an additional 20 minutes at 200 degrees;
3) Finally, “fire up” the apple pancake for 15 minutes at 450 degrees to allow it to rise dramatically.

When finished, the pancake is inverted onto a serving plate with the caramelized apples on the top.

BATTER:
3 jumbo eggs
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 cup skim milk
3/4 cup bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoons Vital Gluten
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 nutmeg

– Using electric mixer with whisk attachment, whisk eggs until foamy, then pour milk & cream into mixer bowl and blend well.
– Mix dry ingredients together in separate bowl, then add gradually to egg mixture, a tablespoon at a time, on low to medium power. Continue mixing, scraping sides on bottom with rubber spatula. Then mix on low speed for five minutes.
-Let batter sit for at least 10-15 minutes.

APPLES:
2 large granny smith apples, peeled, cored & sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 tablespoon unsalted butter for sauteing apples

– Prepare the apples by melting 1 tablespoon butter in pan.
– Place 30 apple slices in pan and saute for 4 minutes covered at medium heat turning one or twice. The apples should be sweating, not browned or cooked through. Remove apples to a separate bowl.

CINNAMON SUGAR MIXTURE:
3 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons + 1 1/2 teaspoons superfine sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons Saigon Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon + extra pinch of cornstarch
2 tablespoons + 1 1/2 teaspoons melted unsalted butter

– Prepare cinnamon sugar mixture by combine sugars and cinnamon in a bowl. Sift the cornstarch into the mix and blend thoroughly with a fork removing lumps.
– Melt the butter in the pan & pour it into the cinnamon sugar using a fork to mix thoroughly. It will resemble a streusel-like topping.
– Spread cinnamon sugar mixture over the botton of the pan using the bottom of a fork.
– Layer apples (do not pile up in middle) over the cinnamon sugar mixture to cover bottom of pan.

INTRODUCING THE BATTER:
– Preheat oven to 300 degrees
– Measure exactly 1 3/4 cups of batter and pour batter over the apples that have been placed over the cinnamon sugar mixture in the pan.
* If you pan appears to fill up before using all the batter, fill the pan with batter up to at least a 1/4 inch below the rim. It will not overflow because the initial baking cycles are at low heat and the batter will set.
– Place pan in preheated oven and reduce heat to 250 degrees. Bake for 30 minutes.
– Remove pan from oven, cover with foil and place on stovetop to rest.
– Increase oven temperature to 500 degrees.
– When oven reaches 500 degrees, remove foil and place pan in oven; immediately reduce temperature to 450 degrees and bake for 12-15 minutes.
* Watch carefully during the last 5 minutes until the pancake has risn significantly and the top edges are deep brown. (This level of doneness helps the pancake stay up when inverted.)
– Have a serving platter or large dinner plate ready where you serve the pancake.
– Remove pan from oven, carefully invert pan onto serving plate by holding plate with one hand. Serve immediately.

The end product is a beautiful sweet caramelized treat that is fondly known as a Classic Baked German Apple Pancake!
There were many recipes for Classic Baked German Apple Pancakes shared at the presentation. I encourage you to find a favorite recipe for a classic baked german apple pancake…. which would be perfect for a Sunday morning!

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My Big Fat German Apple Pancakes!

Today I attended a culinary presentation and demonstration at Kendall College. Today’s presentation was on the Big Apple Pancake: Chicago’s Ultimate Comfort Food, presented by Steven L. Katz.
Steven L. Katz is an author and food writer whose recipes and articles have appeared in Gourmet, Bon Appetit, The Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post and more. Steve Katz grew up on Chicagos North Shore eating at Walker Bros. The Original Pancake House on Green Bay Road and has visited the original Original Pancake House in Portland, Oregon — where he met founder Les Highet. Steve’s parents grew up on Chicago’s North Shore Side and they loved the apple pancake at Chicago’s Red Star Inn Restaurant.

Steven L. Katz, author of “Chicago’s Big Apple” (The Chicago Tribune, January 10, 2007) reveals the whole sugar cinnamon glazed story of the baked German apple pancake in Chicago.
The presentation featured a Classic Baked German Apple Pancake Demonstration, tasting, and “Q and A” with Kendall College’s Heidi Hedeker, Chef of Pastry and Baking. Additionally, secret Chicago recipes for the Classic Baked German Apple Pancake was shared.
In addition to Steven & Heidi’s informative presentation, Patricia Penzey Erd, of The Spice House, shared a bit of history on cinnamon and the various kinds there are.
Patricia is the sister of Bill Penzey, owner of Penzeys Spices. Both are extremely knowledgeable on spices, so do check out Patricia’s website for The Spice House for all their quality spices!
Not only was the cooking/baking science explained behind the particular ingredients that are used to make a Classic Baked German Apple Pancake, the history of how pancake houses have evolved and the specific ties to Chicago were explained. The rich culinary history and science behind such a simple, comforting food truly gives one a greater appreciation of food in general.

Here is Saigon Cinnamon (also known as Vietnamese Cinnamon). Saigon Cinnamon is used primarily for its aromatic bark.
Here is Korintje Cinnamon. This cinnamon is a favorite in the baking industry. It has a 3.5% oil content making it more flavorful and robust than ordinary cinnamon.
Here is Ceylon “True” Cinnamon. Complex and fragrant, with a citrus overtone and rich buff color, Ceylon cinnmamon is unfamiliar to most Americans. Although less strong than cassia, it is prized in both England and Mexico where it is preferred over cassia for all uses.
Patricia also shared with us her prized cinnamon stick, which was signed by the famous Julia Child herself!

To make a Classic Baked German Apple Pancake,
here are some key ingredients & information to take note of:

The correct pan for the classic Baked German Apple Pancake is an 8″ inch non stick skillet with sloped sides and a three cup capacity. It is the standard pan used by restaurants that prepare th Baked German Apple Pancake.

Granny Smith Apples – they provide the right amount of tartness and can hold up to the high heat when its baked.
The apples are sliced and are placed in acidulated water — that is in water with
lemon juice and then sauteed for 3-4 minutes in 1 tablespoon of butter. The acidulated water helps the apple slices to maintain its shape and texture before introducing it to the pancake batter.
The streusel or cinnamon sugar mixture is one that can heat and melt enough to form a caramel, without hardening. This adds the sticky sweet element needed in a good Baked German Apple Pancake recipe.
In addition to eggs, skim milk and a touch of heavy cream, the dry ingredients in creating the pancake batter involves the use of Vital Wheat Gluten. This adds additional protein to the scientific makeup, allowing the pancake to “bubble up” around the edges – a special characteristic of big apple pancakes.

Here is the recipe that Steven & Heidi prepared for us at the event:

This recipe is prepared by lightly sauteing apples in butter and then laying them in a dry bed of blended sugar and cinnamon. The batter is then poured over the aples and the pan is placed in the oven.

The baking requires 1 hour, and is done in 3 steps:
1) Allow the pancake batter to “set up” by baking it for 25 minutes at 250 degrees;
2) (optional step) Allow the pancake to bake for an additional 20 minutes at 200 degrees;
3) Finally, “fire up” the apple pancake for 15 minutes at 450 degrees to allow it to rise dramatically.

When finished, the pancake is inverted onto a serving plate with the caramelized apples on the top.

BATTER:
3 jumbo eggs
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 cup skim milk
3/4 cup bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoons Vital Gluten
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 nutmeg

– Using electric mixer with whisk attachment, whisk eggs until foamy, then pour milk & cream into mixer bowl and blend well.
– Mix dry ingredients together in separate bowl, then add gradually to egg mixture, a tablespoon at a time, on low to medium power. Continue mixing, scraping sides on bottom with rubber spatula. Then mix on low speed for five minutes.
-Let batter sit for at least 10-15 minutes.

APPLES:
2 large granny smith apples, peeled, cored & sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 tablespoon unsalted butter for sauteing apples

– Prepare the apples by melting 1 tablespoon butter in pan.
– Place 30 apple slices in pan and saute for 4 minutes covered at medium heat turning one or twice. The apples should be sweating, not browned or cooked through. Remove apples to a separate bowl.

CINNAMON SUGAR MIXTURE:
3 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons + 1 1/2 teaspoons superfine sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons Saigon Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon + extra pinch of cornstarch
2 tablespoons + 1 1/2 teaspoons melted unsalted butter

– Prepare cinnamon sugar mixture by combine sugars and cinnamon in a bowl. Sift the cornstarch into the mix and blend thoroughly with a fork removing lumps.
– Melt the butter in the pan & pour it into the cinnamon sugar using a fork to mix thoroughly. It will resemble a streusel-like topping.
– Spread cinnamon sugar mixture over the botton of the pan using the bottom of a fork.
– Layer apples (do not pile up in middle) over the cinnamon sugar mixture to cover bottom of pan.

INTRODUCING THE BATTER:
– Preheat oven to 300 degrees
– Measure exactly 1 3/4 cups of batter and pour batter over the apples that have been placed over the cinnamon sugar mixture in the pan.
* If you pan appears to fill up before using all the batter, fill the pan with batter up to at least a 1/4 inch below the rim. It will not overflow because the initial baking cycles are at low heat and the batter will set.
– Place pan in preheated oven and reduce heat to 250 degrees. Bake for 30 minutes.
– Remove pan from oven, cover with foil and place on stovetop to rest.
– Increase oven temperature to 500 degrees.
– When oven reaches 500 degrees, remove foil and place pan in oven; immediately reduce temperature to 450 degrees and bake for 12-15 minutes.
* Watch carefully during the last 5 minutes until the pancake has risn significantly and the top edges are deep brown. (This level of doneness helps the pancake stay up when inverted.)
– Have a serving platter or large dinner plate ready where you serve the pancake.
– Remove pan from oven, carefully invert pan onto serving plate by holding plate with one hand. Serve immediately.

The end product is a beautiful sweet caramelized treat that is fondly known as a Classic Baked German Apple Pancake!
There were many recipes for Classic Baked German Apple Pancakes shared at the presentation. I encourage you to find a favorite recipe for a classic baked german apple pancake…. which would be perfect for a Sunday morning!

Pho Gettaboutit…

Tonight, dinner plans were a bit rushed as we had errands to do. Originally, plans were to take advantage of some good eats at a neighborhood Irish Pub. However we ended up in the neighborhood of Argyle St. and Broadway St. (sometimes called “North Chinatown” or “New Chinatown“, though the neighborhood is heavily Vietnamese).

We hit up our fave Vietnamese restaurant, Tank Noodle. This place serves the best Pho in Chicago… so naturally, we ordered the #40 ~ Pho: Beef Noodle Soup with sliced beef, well done brisket, well done flank steak, soft tendon, bible tripe and beef meatball.

Phở is served as a bowl of white rice noodles in clear beef broth, with thin cuts of beef (steak, fatty flank, lean flank, brisket). Variations featuring tendon, tripe, meatballs, chicken leg, chicken breast, or other chicken organs (heart, liver, etc.) are also available.

The broth is generally made by boiling beef (and sometimes also chicken) bones, oxtails, flank steak, and spices, and takes several hours to prepare. Spices include Saigon cinnamon, star anise, ginger, cloves, and sometimes also black cardamom.

The noodles, called bánh phở in Vietnamese, are traditionally cut from wide sheets of fresh rice noodles, although dried noodles (also called “rice sticks”) may also be used.

The dish is garnished with ingredients such as green onions, white onions, cilantro or coriander leaves, ngo gai (“saw leaf herb”), mint, basil lemon or lime, bean sprouts and chile or jalapeno peppers. The last four items are usually provided on a separate plate, which allows folks to adjust the soup’s flavor as they like. Some sauces such as hoisin sauce fish sauce, and the Thai hot sauce Sriracha, are popular additions as well.

Pho Gettaboutit…

Tonight, dinner plans were a bit rushed as we had errands to do. Originally, plans were to take advantage of some good eats at a neighborhood Irish Pub. However we ended up in the neighborhood of Argyle St. and Broadway St. (sometimes called “North Chinatown” or “New Chinatown“, though the neighborhood is heavily Vietnamese).

We hit up our fave Vietnamese restaurant, Tank Noodle. This place serves the best Pho in Chicago… so naturally, we ordered the #40 ~ Pho: Beef Noodle Soup with sliced beef, well done brisket, well done flank steak, soft tendon, bible tripe and beef meatball.

Phở is served as a bowl of white rice noodles in clear beef broth, with thin cuts of beef (steak, fatty flank, lean flank, brisket). Variations featuring tendon, tripe, meatballs, chicken leg, chicken breast, or other chicken organs (heart, liver, etc.) are also available.

The broth is generally made by boiling beef (and sometimes also chicken) bones, oxtails, flank steak, and spices, and takes several hours to prepare. Spices include Saigon cinnamon, star anise, ginger, cloves, and sometimes also black cardamom.

The noodles, called bánh phở in Vietnamese, are traditionally cut from wide sheets of fresh rice noodles, although dried noodles (also called “rice sticks”) may also be used.

The dish is garnished with ingredients such as green onions, white onions, cilantro or coriander leaves, ngo gai (“saw leaf herb”), mint, basil lemon or lime, bean sprouts and chile or jalapeno peppers. The last four items are usually provided on a separate plate, which allows folks to adjust the soup’s flavor as they like. Some sauces such as hoisin sauce fish sauce, and the Thai hot sauce Sriracha, are popular additions as well.

Simple Supper

It was another night of something simple using a hodge podge of leftover ingredients that were yearning to be consumed. With some goat cheese, basil, pesto, marinara, I whipped up a pasta dish paired with chicken.

Here is my recipe for Pesto Marinara Pasta & Chicken:

2 chicken breasts, pounded
garlic powder, salt & black pepper
flour
olive oil

– Heat oil in pan
– Pound chicken breasts flat, to 1/2 inch thick
– Season chicken with spices
– Dredge chicken with flour
– Pan fry until golden brown; set aside.

1/2 cup pesto
1 3/4 cup marinara sauce
1 cup fresh artichoke hearts, quartered & steamed
1 tablespoon minced garlic
olive oil
1-2 oz goat cheese crumbled
3 fresh basil leaved, chopped
2 oz angel hair pasta, cooked

– Combine pesto & marinara sauce
– In pan, heat oil and garlic.
– Add pesto/marinara sauce.
– Add steamed artichokes.
– Add cooked pasta.
– Toss and heat thoroughly.
– Plate pasta and top with goat cheese & basil.
– Slice cooked chicken and serve with pasta.

Simple Supper

It was another night of something simple using a hodge podge of leftover ingredients that were yearning to be consumed. With some goat cheese, basil, pesto, marinara, I whipped up a pasta dish paired with chicken.

Here is my recipe for Pesto Marinara Pasta & Chicken:

2 chicken breasts, pounded
garlic powder, salt & black pepper
flour
olive oil

– Heat oil in pan
– Pound chicken breasts flat, to 1/2 inch thick
– Season chicken with spices
– Dredge chicken with flour
– Pan fry until golden brown; set aside.

1/2 cup pesto
1 3/4 cup marinara sauce
1 cup fresh artichoke hearts, quartered & steamed
1 tablespoon minced garlic
olive oil
1-2 oz goat cheese crumbled
3 fresh basil leaved, chopped
2 oz angel hair pasta, cooked

– Combine pesto & marinara sauce
– In pan, heat oil and garlic.
– Add pesto/marinara sauce.
– Add steamed artichokes.
– Add cooked pasta.
– Toss and heat thoroughly.
– Plate pasta and top with goat cheese & basil.
– Slice cooked chicken and serve with pasta.

Lost in Translation – American Chinese Eats

Tonight we headed out to Chicago’s Chinatown Square and had dinner at one of our favorite places – Lee Wing Wah. It is an authentic Chinese restaurant, but tonight, we decided to try out some of the American Chinese food on their menu.
American Chinese food typically treats vegetables as garnish while authentic styles emphasize vegetables. This can be seen in the use of carrots and tomatoes. Authentic Chinese cuisine makes frequent use of Asian leafy vegetables like bok choy and gai lan (chinese broccoli) and puts a greater emphasis on fresh meat and live seafood. As a result, American Chinese food is usually less pungent than authentic cuisine.

Although we had dinner in the heart of Chicago’s Chinatown Square tonight, we took advantage of a full meal with various dishes. The best part? It was only $13 per person – a true deal, which is common in Chinatown eats. With the amount of food, I don’t have to worry about making dinner for tomorrow night either!

We started out with wonton soup. This was an Americanized version in that only wonton dumplings in broth are served, while authentic Chinese versions may come with noodles. The true Cantonese Wonton Soup is a full meal in itself consisting of thin egg noodles and typically 5 pork and prawn wontons in a pork or chicken soup broth or noodle broth.
Next up was an appetizer platter that included eggrolls, beef sticks and BBQ pork.
Again, an Americanized version of eggrolls was served. While authentic Chinese spring rolls or egg rolls have a thin crispy skin with mushrooms, bamboo, and other vegetables inside, the Americanized version uses a thick, fried skin stuffed with cabbage and sometimes bits of meat. In other areas, bean sprouts form the basis of most of the filling.
To serve as our starch, we had BBQ Pork Fried Rice. Fried rice dishes are popular offerings in American Chinese food due to the speed and ease of preparation and their appeal to Western tastes. Fried rice is generally prepared with rice cooled overnight, allowing restaurants to put unserved leftover rice to good use.
Meat that has been deep fried in bread or flour, such as the salt & pepper chicken we had as one of our entrees , is often heavily emphasized in American-style Chinese dishes. This is an American Chinese version of popcorn chicken!
The last entree we had was Mongolian Beef, another common American Chinese dish consisting of sliced beef, typically flank steak, and stir-fried with vegetables in a sweet and savory brown sauce, usually made with hoisin sauce. The beef is most commonly paired with scallions or mixed vegetables and is often spicy. Most often, the dish is served over crispy fried cellophane noodles or steamed rice. The name of this dish is somewhat misleading, because neither the ingredients used (besides the meat) nor the preparation methods applied have anything in common with traditional Mongolian cuisine. The term “Mongolian” is rather meant to imply a vaguely “exotic” type of food.
To end on a sweet note, we treated ourselves to Boba or Bubble Teas – mango and lychee with tapioca. The proper name for “Bubble Tea” is Boba tea. Boba Tea is a tea drink that originated in Taiwan in the 1980s. The term “Bubble” refers to the tapioca balls in the drink. These chewy tapioca balls, or “pearls,” are consumed along with the beverage through a wide straw.

I’m thrilled we went and had some Americanized Chinese food because it’s good (not exactly healthy) and so affordable. Most importantly, I don’t have to cook dinner tomorrow with all the leftovers!