There is nothing better than German Apple Pancakes on a Sunday morning! Traditional German pancakes are a cross between thin French crêpes and thick American Pancakes. Freshly sliced apples give those light and soft pancakes a wonderful sweetness. They are the perfect dairy-free breakfast!
💡 The recipe in a nutshell
- Vegan (eggless and dairy free)
- Oma's recipe turned plant-based
- Easy to make Sunday breakfast
- German vegan cuisine
- Thinner than American pancakes, thicker than French crêpes
🇺🇸 American 'German pancakes'
Since I moved from Germany to the US a lot of Americans approached me, telling me they love ordering "German Pancakes" at a Diner. Many asked me if I could teach them how to make them. Little did I know that 'German Pancakes' are not German by nationality in America. To my surprise my friends wanted to learn how to make a large American popover, also known as 'Dutch Baby'. Unfortunately I've never heard of it before I came to the US.
While these popover pancakes may derived from the original German pancake dish "Pfannkuchen", the 'German pancake' as most Americans know it today are not actually German.
The 'Dutch baby' was introduced in the first half of the 1900s at Manca's Cafe. It was a family-run restaurant that was located in Seattle, Washington. It is said that the name "Dutch baby" was coined by one of the owners daughters, where "Dutch" perhaps was her corruption of the German word deutsch (which literally means "German").
🇩🇪 Authentic German pancakes aka 'Pfannkuchen'
German pancakes is 'Pfannkuchen' in German. Pfanne and Kuchen meaning "pan" and "cake". In Berlin, Brandenburg and Saxony their name is 'Eierkuchen'. Don't get it confused with 'Berliner Pfannkuchen' which is a German jelly-filled Doughnut, for which I have a vegan recipe too!
German 'Pfannkuchen' are generally thicker than French-style crêpes, but thinner than American pancakes. They are sweet, and savory on occasion.
📋 Ingredients and variations
I grew up eating and loving the pancakes from my Oma. My grandma makes them with white flour, dairy milk, eggs and lots of butter. My veganized version is a little bit healthier. I am using vegetable oil instead of butter, plant based milk instead of cow's milk and leaving out the eggs.
You can use either all-purpose flour or for some extra nutrition spelt flour. It gives the pancakes a nutty and slightly sweet flavor, similar to that of whole wheat flour. Spelt Flour has higher contents of copper, iron, zinc, magnesium and phosphorus. Additional it comes with many other benefits like boosting the immune system and more! No matter what flour you decide to use, they taste delicious.
Store completely cooled leftover pancakes wrapped in an airtight container in your fridge for up to 4 days.
❄️ How to freeze
Place parchment paper between the individual pancakes and freeze them in layers, wrapped in freezer bags. Label with date of freezing and store for up to 3 months. Defrost in fridge overnight, or in a non-stick pan without fat over medium heat.
German Apple Pancakes Recipe - Apfel Pfannkuchen (vegan & no sugar)
- 300 g unbleached all-purpose, or spelt flour (1 ¾ cups + 2 tbsp)
- A pinch of of baking powder
- A pinch of salt
- 400 ml unsweetened plant milk eg: almond, soy, oat (1 ½ cups + 3 tbsp)
- 1 package vanilla sugar, or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 200 ml sparkling mineral water (¾ cup + 1 tbsp)
- 2 thinly sliced apples
- vegetable oil for frying
Additional topping ideas:
- cinnamon and sugar mix, fresh fruit like strawberries, bananas or wild berries, jam, syrup or vegan Nutella
- To make the batter: In a mixing bowl combine flour, baking powder, salt, and mix together. Then add plant milk. Whisk together until no lumps remain. Let rest for 30 minutes in fridge (don’t skip this part). Meanwhile prepare the apples. Peel apples, core, cut in half, and cut into very thin slices. After resting time of the batter add sparkling mineral water to it. Whisk together until well combined.
- *Optional step: Melt 3 tablespoons of the vegan butter over medium-low heat in a small fry pan, and sauté apple slices with a little bit of cinnamon until they are just tender. Set aside.
- To fry pancakes: Heat oil in a pan. Once hot enough transfer batter with a ladle into the pan. Since we’re making German pancakes they should be wider and thinner than the standard American pancakes. Tip for thin and even pancakes: Use a crêpe spreader.
- Once the pancakes are spread out take some apple slices and press them gently into the moist dough. Fry until nicely browned and firmed. Then flip and fry on the other side. Either flip with a spatula, or if you’re a pro throw it into the air and catch it. Lightly coat the pan in oil after each pancake. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar mix and serve warm. Enjoy like that or add other toppings.
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