Apple Pancakes with Honey & Brown Butter Syrup
There are some breakfasts that we can’t imagine eating without wearing flannel pajamas (shorts, of course; this is still Southern California). These homey apple pancakes are one of them — they’re wonderfully cozy and autumnal, especially with the honey and brown butter syrup. The recipe also comes from one of our test kitchen chefs, who’s been making it since their high school days, so you know it’s a keeper.
For the syrup, we browned a half stick of butter on the stovetop, and then stirred in maple syrup, honey, vanilla, and a dash of salt. Between the maple syrup and the honey, this mixture may sound overpoweringly sweet. Not so! The brown butter and salt tames it all, creating a nutty, floral, salted caramel-like flavor.
The batter itself is made with whole wheat flour, so these flapjacks are heartier than your usual pancake fare (by which we mean, you can eat them and not feel hungry an hour later). And rather than put cooked apple slices on top of the pancakes, we mixed fresh, grated apple directly into the batter. It gives each bite a subtle hint of fruit — and the juices make the pancakes amazingly moist. We also added lemon zest for a little florality and to provide the tartness you’d expect from an apple dish. Together, the apple and lemon bring the perfect amount of natural sweetness to balance the deep, earthy complexity of the whole wheat flour.
With a drizzling of the caramelly syrup and a square of melt-y butter on top, these pancakes are rich, fruity, and subtly sweet. And thanks to the heartiness of the whole wheat, the thin cakes stay light and fluffy — not soggy and sated with syrup. If we were you, we’d eat these on a crisp fall morning with a steamy pot of coffee within arm’s reach and a good book in hand. They’d also make a delightful addition to your family’s Rosh Hashanah brunch spread: one bite, and you’re sure to have a sweet year ahead.
Yield: 10 to 12 large pancakes
For the honey and brown butter syrup:
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
½ cup maple syrup
¼ cup honey
½ tsp vanilla extract
Pinch kosher salt
For the apple pancakes:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
¼ cup packed light brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt
2 cups whole milk
1 large Gelson’s egg
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
½ tsp vanilla extract
Zest from ½ lemon
⅔ cup peeled, grated apple and its juices
4 Tbsp vegetable oil, divided
To make the honey and brown butter syrup: In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the butter turns golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes.
Add the maple syrup, honey, and vanilla. Bring the syrup to a simmer, and cook over low heat until thickened, about 20 minutes.
Remove the syrup from the heat, stir in the salt, and transfer it to a jar to cool. The syrup can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
To make the apple pancakes: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
In a separate medium bowl, combine the milk, egg, butter, vanilla, and lemon zest. Whisk to combine.
Stir in the grated apple and its juices.
Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until a lumpy batter forms.
In a large, nonstick pan, heat 2 teaspoons of the vegetable oil over medium heat. When the oil shimmers, use a 3-ounce ladle or a ⅓-cup measure to pour the batter into the center of the pan. Cook the pancake until bubbles form on the top, about 3 minutes.
Flip the pancake over and cook for another 2 to 2 ½ minutes, and then remove it from the pan and set aside.
Repeat steps 8 and 9 until you run out of batter.
Serve the pancakes warm with a small jar of the honey and brown butter syrup.