Early Harvest Apple Cheddar Pancakes

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What happens when an old apple tree dies in the middle of summer? You end up with a million small, sour apples that can’t be eaten raw. A sane person would leave them be, but since I have a vaguely manic complex about not letting food go to waste, I decided to see what I could do.

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After picking a grocery bag’s worth (a tiny fraction of the total number), I set to work, drying them in the oven for apple chips, stewing them on the stovetop for compote, and baking them into cake. A week on, the first batch has been mostly diminished, but the compote still looms in the fridge. Apparently I live in a house filled with people who prefer chocolate! So I decided to to make pancakes, remembering some sweet bites of the apple variety that I had enjoyed as a child. Most recipes I looked at involved raw apples, so I decided to eschew them altogether, in favour of a straight up pancake recipe with my own additions throw in. Besides adding stewed apples, I decided to throw in some chunks of cheddar cheese as well.

I don’t know if it’s just a Canadian thing, but when I was growing up, my mum used to sometimes serve  aged white cheddar with her homemade apple pie. I have never liked ice cream or whipped cream on pie, but somehow I always found  cheese to be a perfect compliment. It seemed like a no brainer, therefore, to put cheese in these pancakes! The result was a pancake that was delicious, rich and creamy on the inside, and crispy on the outside, with alternating bites of sweet and savoury thanks to the apple and cheese. This is a perfect breakfast for a foggy San Francisco Bay Area morning, even if it’s an early harvest. Summer is colder than fall here anyway, so actually it fits the season!

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Early Harvest Apple Cheddar Pancakes

1 1/2 cups flour
3 1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1 1/2 cups milk
1 egg
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 – 1 cup apple compote (depending on how apple-y you like your pancakes)
3 thick slices of sharp white cheddar cheese, diced

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar together. In a separate bowl, whisk the milk, egg and oil. Add wet mixture to dry ingredients and mix until smooth. Stir in  apple compote and cheddar cheese.

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If you don’t have apple compote already made, a quick approximation can be achieved by stewing apples, lemon zest, cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar (I used a mix of brown and white) and a small amount of water together for about 20 minutes.

Oil a pan, and set it on a medium burner. When the oil is hot, scoop small ladle-fulls of pancake mixture into the pan.

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When a ring of bubbles forms around the outside of each pancake, they should be ready to flip. Cook for a few minutes on each side. You may need to flip again to achieve desired crispiness, as well as to fully cook the inside. Serve warm with maple syrup, apple compote, honey, or even eat them plain, as I did. Whatever topping you choose, you don’t want to overwhelm the flavour already inherent within the pancake. They’re good enough to eat by themselves, soft and a bit gooey on the inside, with occasional bursts of melted cheese.

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