Chef Keith Geter didn't want to just make regular, old pancakes for the brunch crowd at Clancey. "I wanted something to share for the table rather than something for one person," he explains. "I wanted to do something different." So he thought, instead of making a stack of pancakes, why not make one fluffy, fat pancake? And with that, Clancey's fat pancake was created, an American brunch twist on a traditional French tarte tatin, a type of upside-down apple cake. "The carmelization of the apples comes from an old French method," explains Geter, adding, "but I use Kentucky bourbon instead of Calvados. Keep it somewhat American."
If you want to make what is essentially cake for breakfast at home, we're here for you. And chef Geter's recipe is actually fairly simple when you read the list of ingredients. You probably have most, if not all, of the items in your pantry (and liquor cabinet) already. The trick is in the the preparation, making sure the apples and sugar get cooked down and crusty without burning or sticking to the pan, and not setting the kitchen on fire with the bourbon.
"Don't pour the bourbon into the pan over the flame," reiterates Geter, but, he adds, "If it's not smoking, it ain't working. It needs the smoke."
So we went to Clancey on Manhattan's Lower East Side to see how this Fat Pancake gets made—and learned how to make this cake-for-breakfast at home.
Clancey's Fat Pancake
Photo by Alex Tepper
First, make the batter.
Mix wet into dry, then let sit overnight.
Once the batter's ready, you're ready to make the Fat Pancake.
For the batter
2 cups Italian 00 flour (but all-purpose flour works, too)
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon salt
2 cups buttermilk
6 tablespoons butter, melted then cooled to room temperature
2 large eggs
For the Fat Pancake
6 Granny Smith apples, peeled and largely diced (and do not put apples in water)
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup melted butter
1 cup bourbon
How to Make It
In a bowl add apples, granulated sugar, and melted butter. Toss apples to get sugar and butter to coat. Place apples in a very hot cast iron pan and stir quickly until caramelized.
Once caramelized, add bourbon and whole stick of butter to pan, then remove from stove. Let cool on a sheet pan.
Coat an 8-inch Teflon pan with non-stick spray. Add a spoonful of apples, a ladle of batter, another spoonful of apples, and place in oven at 350 degrees until cooked. To check, poke with a knife; when it comes out clean, it's done.
Flip onto plate, cover with caramel, and sprinkle with coarse sea salt.