Michelin-starred chef Paul Ainsworth’s recipe for a next-level multi-storey batter monster, just for ShortList
“My dad was from a small town in Lancashire called Knott End-on-Sea,” he tells us, when we ask about the inspiration behind his new-school batter stack contender. “My memories growing up as a boy were Eccles cakes and apple pie served with a lump of cheddar. I absolutely loved that combination, and now can see why it worked so well. Using those childhood memories this recipe was born.”
This recipe, you’ll find below, deserves a space on your homemade morning menu under ‘Pancakes with Cider Toffee Apples and Montgomery Cheddar’. Or, abbreviated to what it’s come to be known as in the ShortList offices: Pankenstein 2.0. We tucked into that very pancake tower you see up there in the image, and we’re absolutely floored by the combo: sweet, sticky, boozy and surprisingly herb-spiked toffee; sharp, creamy cheese, pillowy-soft pancakes; and palate-cleansing apple, that prepares your face for another dunking into this weekend-slaying dish.
“Prepare the pancake batter a few hours beforehand and allow to rest,” Paul adds, unloading his cheffy tips unto you to esure you get this beast just right at home. “This ensures the zest and cinnamon work their magic. Cook your apples ahead of time too so you can allow them to rest in the caramel. They’ll soon look like glistening jewels.”
For the pancake batter (makes six):
175g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
1⁄2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 pinch of Cornish sea salt
1 orange, zested finely
1 large free-range egg
150ml whole milk
50ml full-fat buttermilk
Sunflower oil and butter for frying
For the cider toffee apples
100g caster sugar
100g unsalted butter diced at fridge temperature
50ml of Cornish cider
1 pinch of Cornish sea salt
1 pinch of thyme flowers
5 medium sized pink lady apples, peeled, halved and cored
For the cheese
300g piece of amazing aged cheddar (we love Montgomery)
1. To make the pancakes, add the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and sugar into a large bowl and add the orange zest. Mix together, then make a well in the centre and add the egg and half the milk. Beat well, with a whisk, until you have a smooth thick batter, then beat in the remaining milk and buttermilk to make a batter the consistency of thick pouring cream.
2. Heat a little oil and a small knob of butter in a large non-stick frying pan over a high heat. Use a small ladle of mix per pancake and place into the hot pan, spacing each dollop of the mixture well apart to allow it to spread. Cook for about 2 minutes or until bubbles start to appear on the surface, then turn over with a non-stick blunt-ended palette knife or spatula and cook on the other side for a further 30–60 seconds or until lightly golden brown on both sides. Repeat until all your mix is cooked.
3. To make the cider toffee apples, preheat oven to 160 degrees Celsius. Heat the sugar in a large heavy-based frying pan and cook until you achieve a beautiful golden caramel. Carefully stir in the cider and half the butter (be careful: it will spit and bubble). Remove from the heat and whisk in the remaining diced butter and season with the sea salt. Add the apples to the pan round-side down, and cover with a sheet of greaseproof paper. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until the apples are caramelised and beautifully soft, still holding their shape.
4. To assemble, layer up like a savoury/sweet pancake lasagne. Starting with a pancake on the base, a layer of apples, another pancake laid up with sliced cheddar and repeat until all your pancakes are used. Crown your top layer with a beautiful piece of cheddar, some thyme leaves and spoon some of the amazing cider caramel over the top.