German apple pancakes are prone to numerous pitfalls: insufficient rise, leaden texture, and eggy flavor.
The perfect pancake should have crisp, lighter-than-air edges and a custard-like center, with buttery sautéed apples baked right into the batter.
Use half-and-half to give the pancake a rich flavor without sacrificing the texture. Granny Smith apples provide a perfect balance of sweetness and tartness. Cut the apples into 1/2-inch thick pieces to keep them from turning mushy and cook them in brown sugar with cinnamon and lemon juice to make them at once earthy and bright. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees and then lower it to 425 degrees when the pancake goes into the oven; the initial high heat gives the batter the quick rise it needs and the moderate heat cooks the pancake to perfection. Serve dusted with confectioners' sugar and a drizzle of maple syrup or caramel sauce (see related recipe).