My mom didn’t really enjoy cooking so she kept things as simple as possible. But she made great meatballs and a perfect Sunday roast and she made excellent pancakes and Apfelküchle – which are slices of apples dipped in pancake-like batter, then fried and served with vanilla sauce. Absolutely delicious! And a sweet treat that was often served for lunch, which most often is the main meal in Germany. Well, I like sweets and I cannot stop feeling fortunate to have grown up eating dessert for lunch and dinner. I remember visiting friends after school and because their families wanted to serve something extra delicious to us kids, lunch was always waffles or pancakes or some other sweet dish. I honestly don’t recall a single savory lunch at a friend’s house. I make sweet lunch for my family occasionally, but these Apfelküchle are usually served as dessert.
For the Apfelküchle:
- 4 tart apples
- 1 cup flour
- 1/4 cup ground hazelnuts (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 tablespoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup of milk
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon oil
- juice of one lemon
- oil for deep-frying
- cinnamon sugar or powdered sugar and vanilla sauce
For the Sauce:
- 2 cups of whole milk
- 4 egg yolks
- 1 vanilla bean
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
Start by making the vanilla sauce. This Crème Anglaise is easy to make but it can overcook and curdle if you are not careful. This is easily prevented by setting up a cold water bath before starting to make the sauce. You will need 3 large bowls and a fine mesh sieve. Fill one bowl partially with ice water and place another bowl into the ice water and set aside.
Add the milk to a heavy sauce pan. Split the vanilla bean length wise and add to the milk. Heat the milk over medium low heat for about 5 minutes until small bubbles appear around the edges. Do not boil. Remove the vanilla bean when the milk is hot. In the meantime, whisk together the yolks, sugar, and salt in the 3rd bowl, until thick and light yellow in color. Slowly pour half of the warm milk into the yolk mixture, whisking continuously. Then, pour the yolk mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, for about 4-5 minutes, until the mixture has thickened. Do not boil or the egg yolks will curdle. When the sauce has thickened, strain it through a fine-mesh sieve into the prepared chilled bowl to stop the cooking. Stir frequently until cool.
To make the Apfelküchle, add the flour, hazelnuts, salt, and one tablespoon of sugar in a large mixing bowl and combine.
Separate the eggs. Add the milk, the egg yolk, the vanilla and one teaspoon of oil and mix well. Let the dough rest for 30 minutes.
In the meantime peel and core the apples and cut into about 1/2" thick rings. Combine 3 tablespoons of sugar with the lemon juice, toss with the apples and set aside. Use a tart apple that will become soft when cooked but hold its shape such as Granny Smith, Jonagold, Honey Crisp or Pink Lady.
After the batter has rested, beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until hard peaks form. Carefully fold the egg whites into the dough.
Add about one inch of oil to a heavy frying pan over medium heat. Dip the apple rings in the dough one by one and fry in batches of 3 or 4, leaving space between the slices, until golden brown. Take your time to make sure that the apples are cooked and soft. You can tell that they are done when the juice from the apples is released, causing the oil to hiss and crackle.
Remove the cooked apples from the oil, letting the oil drip off for a couple of seconds. Serve immediately dusted with powdered or cinnamon sugar and with vanilla sauce.
SOURCE: ADAPTED FROM TRADITIONAL RECIPES