It is October 1, and there are bright yellow leaves beginning to flutter down onto the road. Fall is rife with memories for me, memories of romance and grief and everything in between. So as I urge you on to Sabbath breakfast glory, I am also inviting you into my kitchen at 20 years old, into my first domestic ventures, into my early attempts to show love through food.
The Beloved and I got engaged in the least romantic way ever. My first kiss took place pulled over on the side of the ride next to a wall of arborvitae down the road from the house where I was housesitting for the year with my bestie from high school (let’s call her Mooska), at her grandparents’ house. We got engaged on September 18, and were married 2.5 months later on December 4th on a bitterly cold morning in a stately old church with a spire, bedecked with pointsettias and evergreens. It was after being thrown a bridal shower that I first attempted the recipe I am going to share with you today; my mother (Marme) gave me an iron skillet to make it in, with the recipe in her handwriting.
I made it for the first time for the Beloved, during our engagement, but the recipe was far from being new to me. Marme made it all through my childhood — a special dessert for company, or just because, and I always loved it. Obviously, if you have the option of using apples fresh off your orchard like she did, it is even better, but if you didn’t think ahead and marry a farmer, there is probably not a lot you can about that now. Best embrace your lot and make the best of it.
The smell of the apples and vanilla cooking on my stove, the way the autumn light filtered through the windows and made the counter tops of my borrowed home glow, the pleasure I felt in creating something for the man I loved for no other reason that because I loved him — they are all etched in my memories and each and every fall brings them flooding back to me. So when you make this (because you will, right? I may be delusional about people actually reading all this, but please tell me I am right that the 2 readers I have follow all my instructions and suggestions to the letter. Right? Hello? Cricket…), pay attention. Listen to the sound of your knife slicing the apples thin, inhale the magical smells of melting butter and softening apple — taste and see that the Lord is good.
Marme’s Puffed Apple Pancake
4 medium sized apples (Pink Lady are my favorite to use, but ideally you want any apple that can handle the heat. Choosing apples is a lot like choosing husbands, come to think…), peeled, cored and sliced thin
1 Tbsp. butter (I like salted and I might use more than this)
2 Tbsp. sugar (see? practically health food)
1 tsp. vanilla
A few dashes of cinnamon
Melt the butter in an ovenproof skillet (cast iron works here, so does shiny not-cast iron). Add the apples and sugar; saute until soft. Add vanilla, sprinkle with cinnamon.
Combine the following (a trusty whisk is nice here):
1 cup flour
1 cup milk
2 egg whites (save your yolks and I’ll teach you how to make challah bread)
2 whole eggs
1 Tbsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
Pour this batter over the apples, in the same pan you cooked them in (it all connects, yes? Oven proof!)
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Bake for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for 10-15 minutes longer until it is puffed and brown. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve immediately. Have I mentioned coffee? This is killer with hot, black coffee. It is a relevant question, that one that is on the tip of your tongue — is there anything I don’t think black coffee goes well with? Yes…
A chorizo stuffed pork roast. Ha. So there.
This is not an involved, demanding recipe (and actually, you could prep it in advance: cook the apples, mix the batter, and store both separately in the fridge. In the morning, pour the batter on top and proceed baking. Even your rushed Sunday morning has time for that), which gives you time to meditate on the ways that God has been faithful to you over the years. Pause. Breathe in the chill air of fall and the gentle sweetness of the air in your kitchen, and remember that God has not failed you, not once. Put your worries at His feet where they belong — and do not pick them up again on Monday morning. The rest is real. Christ won that rest for you — take it, and give thanks.