saffron and cinnamon german apple pancake

saffron and cinnamon german apple pancake

My father-in-law makes a fabulous German apple pancake, and in the fourteen years I’ve known my husband, I’ve enjoyed it more times than I can even remember, but it never loses its novelty. If you’ve never had one before, it’s basically a big, puffy, caramelized pancake for sharing. It’s a lot like a Dutch baby, but the apples keep it from popping over, so it has a more custardy texture. And while it’s often flavored with cinnamon, lately I’ve been adding a little saffron too. This might come as a surprise if you’re most used to seeing saffron in paella and the like, but it makes total sense if you’re familiar with many Middle Eastern, North African, and South Asian desserts.

Saffron works wonderfully with apples and cinnamon, but it’s important to make sure the flavors are subtle and balanced. A little adds a lovely aroma, but too much can taste medicinal and metallic. After a bit of tinkering with my recipe, I settled on thirty-five threads as the magic number, but it might vary a little depending on the quality and age of your saffron, so feel free to adjust it to your liking. Just make sure you don’t add more cinnamon, which would overpower the saffron’s delicate flavor.

saffron and cinnamon german apple pancake
saffron and cinnamon german apple pancake
saffron and cinnamon german apple pancake
saffron and cinnamon german apple pancake

saffron and cinnamon german apple pancake

yield: 4 to 6 servings
active time: 20 minutes
total time: 30 minutes
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  • 35 threads saffron

  • 14g (1 tablespoon) water

  • 100g (about 3/4 cup + 1 tablespoon) all purpose flour

  • 14g (1 tablespoon) sugar

  • 3g (1/2 teaspoon) salt

  • 240g (1 cup) milk

  • 3 large eggs (170g)

  • 57g (4 tablespoons) butter

  • 0.5g (1/4 teaspoon) cinnamon

  • 50g (1/4 cup) light brown sugar

  • 3 granny smith apples (530g), peeled and cut into 3/4- to 1-inch pieces

  1. Steep 35 threads of saffron in 1 tablespoon of water for at least 10 minutes. Set aside until later.

  2. Preheat the oven to 475°F (245° C) convection.

  3. Whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt. Separately, whisk together the milk and eggs. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry, and whisk just until it comes together (don’t worry about a few small lumps). Set aside.

  4. Set a 10-inch cast iron skillet over medium heat, and place the butter in the skillet.

  5. Once the butter melts completely, swirl to coat and add the apples to the skillet, along with the saffron and its soaking water. Stir occasionally for about 5 to 7 minutes, just until the apples slightly soften. Once softened, immediately add the cinnamon and light brown sugar, and stir to distribute evenly. Smooth the apples into 1 even layer. Pour the batter right on top of the apples (in the hot skillet, still over medium heat) and don’t stir.

  6. Immediately move the skillet to the oven, and bake for about 10 minutes. Once it’s puffed around the edges, caramelized in spots, and cooked through, bring it out of the oven, and let it cool for 5 minutes before serving.

saffron and cinnamon german apple pancake

persian date frittata

Persian date frittata

I first heard about Persian date frittatas from my Iranian-Assyrian friend Valia. You know how you can usually tell what something would taste like from a description? This was not one of those times. I couldn’t quite wrap my head around the combination of flavors and textures, until I finally tried making it one day, and the clouds parted as soon as I took my first bite.

I’ve cooked this dish a lot over the last couple years, and now I have my preferred way of making it, with a handful of chives, a little pinch of cinnamon, and a few crumbles of feta for good measure. The way I assemble it is perhaps just a skosh fussy (although it’s still relatively simple—way easier than buttermilk pancakes, for example), but you could totally go a different route and scramble everything together like an omelette. Yasmin Khan has such a recipe, which looks incredible.

I just love the way it looks with the concentric circles of dates popping out against the bright yellow eggs. I like to sear the dates in the pan on just one side, so that their exposed tops have a chance to caramelize a little under the broiler while the eggs finish baking. It makes for a gorgeous centerpiece at any brunch table, and it’s easy to pull off with minimal effort.

Persian date frittata
Persian date frittata
Persian date frittata
Persian date frittata

Also, this week and next, I’m excited to be sharing some of my favorite Persian and Persian-inspired recipes. While my family is from Iraq and Syria, many other Assyrians are from Iran, so I try to include Persian recipes on Cardamom and Tea as often as I can. But while there’s a lot of common ground and mutual influence among all our cuisines (and so much multi-cultural complexity within!), Persian food is really quite distinct from Iraqi food (which is also very different from Levantine food, and so on).

So when I include Persian food on the blog, it’s always with a little bit more inhibition, because my only connection to it is through my Iranian friends, extended family, and readers, and not really through first-hand experience. While I’ve probably eaten and cooked a lot more Persian food than the average non-Persian, I’m certainly not an expert, and I hope I’m doing this dish justice. In any case, I guarantee that it’s one of the most lovely breakfasts around. Thanks again to Valia for introducing me to it.

Persian date frittata
Persian date frittata
Persian date frittata
Persian date frittata

persian date frittata

serves 4
total time: 10 minutes
download a
PDF to print
try my
kuku sabzi-inspired frittata for another Persian frittata.

  • 1 tablespoon butter (Or, better—clarified butter. You can also substitute 1/2 tablespoon olive oil)

  • 14 small or 6 large dates, split lengthwise and pitted

  • 5 large eggs, beaten

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste)

  • 3 tablespoons crumbled feta

  • 1 tablespoon chopped chives

  • a pinch of cinnamon

  • suggestion: serve alongside some peppery greens, like watercress or arugula

  1. Pre-heat your broiler.*

  2. Heat a 10-inch broiler-safe seasoned cast iron skillet or nonstick pan over medium heat for about 2 minutes.

  3. Melt the butter, swirl to coat, and place the dates in the pan cut-side down. Let them cook for about 2 minutes without flipping them, until they slightly caramelize and soften.

  4. Remove the dates from the pan, leaving the butter behind.

  5. Add the eggs to the hot butter and scramble them for only about 1 minute. Salt them to taste (about 1/4 teaspoon).

  6. After 1 minute, while they're still very runny, turn off the heat and place the dates on top of the eggs in a pretty pattern cut-side down. Gently press the dates into the eggs so that they stay in place.

  7. Move the pan to the broiler. Cook, checking every minute or more (it takes 3 minutes to cook through with my broiler, but it varies a lot from oven to oven).

  8. Once it has cooked through, garnish with feta, chives, and cinnamon, and serve (optionally with some watercress or arugula on the side).

* If you don’t have an oven, you can make this on a stovetop instead. Cook the dates for about 2 minutes on each side (instead of just 1 side). Proceed with the recipe as usual, until right after you arrange the dates on the surface. Cover the pan with a lid and continue cooking for a couple more minutes, just until the top sets from the steam.

Persian date frittata

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