Apple and Rye Pancakes with Crème Fraîche

Vermont Creamery provided ingredients for this recipe.


The humble pancake is as infinitely variable as it is easy to make. Mixing basic pancakes from scratch takes maybe a minute or two longer than ones from a packaged mix. This variation with apples, rye flour and crème fraîche asks only that you slice an apple and add one extra ingredient (and if rye flour is not on your shelf, that you shop the day before). 

Buttermilk might not be a pantry staple for you, but let me make the case. I don't really drink milk, I use it mostly for baking. Real buttermilk, because it's cultured, lasts longer, and it makes more tender and flavorful cakes, biscuits, and pancakes. It's not hard to use up a quart. It's tang compliments the rye flour in this recipe, as does crème fraîche.

If you're not familiar with crème fraîche, it's thick cultured cream. It tastes rich, subtly complex, and slightly sour. The best use, as far as I'm concerned, is to serve it with fresh berries: dessert in an instant! But berries aren't in season now. In this batter, crème fraîche makes the pancakes rich and tender, and served on top it's like whipped cream for grown-ups.

Apple Rye Pancakes

serves 2 hungry adults

  • 1 medium apple
  • 1 cup rye flour
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt (or 1/2 teaspoon table salt)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup crème fraîche, plus more for serving
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • butter and maple syrup for serving

1. Peel and core the apple, and cut it into very thin slices. Set aside. Heat a griddle to 375, or a skillet over medium-high heat. Heat the oven to 150-200 degrees, and set out an oven-safe plate or pan.

2. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients: rye flour, sugar, salt and baking soda. In a small mixing bowl, beat the egg. Whisk in the crème fraîche, then the buttermilk. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Stir only long enough to moisten the flour–lumps are ok and stirring too much will make rubbery pancakes!    

3. Swipe the griddle or pan with butter to grease it. Dollop about 1/4 cup of dough onto it, spreading it out sou it's about 1/2 inch thick. Press a few apple slices into the top of the dough. Cook until the bottom edge look firm, and you see a few bubbles in the top of the pancake. Flip, and cook a few minutes more. Place the finished pancake on the oven-safe plate or pan, and keep warm it in the oven. Repeat until you've used up all the dough.

4. Serve warm pancakes with butter, maple syrup and crème fraîche.


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Fluffy White Frosting

After the third time I lost the recipe for Fluffy White Frosting, I was too embarrassed to ask my friend Cora’s mom to write it down for me again. I was about 10 years old then–Cora and I were baking buddies–and I’ve been thinking about that frosting ever since. Today I wanted to ice cake without leaving my house to buy confectioners sugar, and I remembered that roux-based frosting, so I googled it (google wasn’t a verb yet when I was 10). I found a recipe right away, and it was as easy to make as to find. It’s as wonderful as I recall–less sugary than butter icing, with a texture like silky whipped cream, and stable enough to hold up on a hot day.

Fluffy White Frosting belongs on a magnificent Southern cake, at least three layers high, slathered on in swirls, and perhaps dusted with coconut. But today I put it on cupcakes, and finally discovered the solution to an age old problem: the amount of icing that looks right on a cupcake is far more than what tastes good. Fluffy White Frosting is less toothachingly sweet than buttercream, so the balance of looks and taste is perfect. Why didn’t I just pick up the phone years ago? That was the age before not just google as a verb but cell phones in every pocket, so I still know my friend's home phone number by heart.

Fluffy White Frosting

  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla

1. Whisk together the flour, sugar and salt in a small saucepan. Whisk in the milk. Cook the mixture over medium heat, whisking constantly. Let it just come to a simmer, then turn it down to keep it just below simmering. When it yellows a little, loses some of its opacity, and no longer tastes like raw flour, remove it from the heat. Whisk the mixture with an electric mixer until it cools completely.

2. Cut the butter into little pieces, and add them one at a time with the mixer running until all the butter is incorporated. Continue to mix for 3-5 more minutes, on medium-high speed, until perfectly smooth and very fluffy. Mix in the vanilla.