Like Thanksgiving, Christmas is one of those holidays that requires aroma.
On Thanksgiving, we need the house to smell of turkey and stuffing and sweet potatoes. On Christmas, we need whiffs of indulgent breakfast items, like cinnamon rolls or a bubbling fruit crisp. Or maybe you prefer hash browns and bacon. Those get the job done nicely, too.
This year I wanted both sweet and savory, so I created this baked pancake inspired by an upside down cake. For ease, it can partially prepped the night before. To do that, just make the batter as directed in a blender, then refrigerate it overnight in the blender carafe. In the morning, just give it a quick whir to freshen it, then you're ready to assemble the pancake.
And that's when things get good. You start by frying bacon in a skillet. Once the bacon is crisp, you top it with a layer of thinly sliced apples. Give those a couple minutes to soften, then you add a hefty sprinkle of brown sugar and cinnamon. Finally, you pour on the batter and pop the whole thing in the oven to finish.
When it's done, you overturn the pancake onto a serving platter and cut it into wedges. You may not need to, but there's no harm in dousing the whole thing with maple syrup.
BACON-APPLE BAKED PANCAKE
Start to finish: 45 minutes
3/4 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 large apple
8 strips bacon
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Heat the oven to 375 F.
In a blender, combine the milk, egg, oil and vanilla. Blender until smooth. With the blender running on low, sprinkle in the flour, sugar, baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stop blending as soon as the mixture is smooth. Set aside.
Use an apple corer or melon baller to core the apple, but leave the fruit intact. Set the apple on its side, then cut it into thin round slices. Set aside.
Heat a large oven-safe skillet over medium. Add the bacon and cook for 6 to 7 minutes on one side. Spoon out and discard about half of the fat in the pan, then turn the bacon strips to cook on the other side, laying them flat and evenly over the bottom of the pan. Top the bacon with the apple slices, arranging them evenly. Cover the pan and cook for 2 minutes.
Mix together the brown sugar, cinnamon and a pinch of salt, then sprinkle the mixture over the apples. Carefully and evenly pour the pancake batter over the apples and bacon. Place the skillet in the oven and bake until lightly browned and cooked through, about 20 minutes.
Let the pancake cool for 5 minutes. Use a paring knife to loosen the edges of the pancake, then overturn a large serving plate over the skillet. Invert the skillet to release the pancake onto the plate. Cut into wedges.
Nutrition information per serving: 530 calories; 260 calories from fat (49 per cent of total calories); 29 g fat (9 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 95 mg cholesterol; 54 g carbohydrate; 3 g fiber; 27 g sugar; 13 g protein; 860 mg sodium.
J.M. Hirsch is the food editor for The Associated Press. He blogs at http://www.LunchBoxBlues.com and tweets at http://twitter.com/JM_Hirsch . Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org