Skillet Cakes


(Spiced cherry and yogurt skillet cake)

My love affair with skillet cakes began a long time ago, when B and I used to make apple pancakes on a regular basis. The recipe for those pancakes originated from a newspaper cutting that has since been misplaced and is still dearly missed. My attempts to recreate the recipe have so far failed. Or maybe whatever we make now will never taste the same because we were younger then and more inexperienced in the kitchen, and it was a wonder to be able to combine shredded green apples with cinnamon, a pat of butter and a leavened batter to yield a large fluffy pancake which we proceeded to devour with vanilla ice-cream.


(Sourdough pancakes)

But as it turns out, I still have the capability to be in awe of how simple but soul-satisfying pancakes can be. If you’re in need of a boosted start to the day, I can’t recommend pancakes highly enough. I’m quite fickle when it comes to pancakes. Sometimes I like them thick and fluffy. Other times, I prefer them thin, drizzled with lemon juice and sugar, then rolled up and eaten without cutlery.


(Prune and buckwheat skillet cake)

This week, I resuscitated my long forgotten omelette pan from the depths of the pot drawer, to whip up some sourdough pancakes and other skillet cakes. Of all the recipes I’ve been trying out, this gluten-free prune and buckwheat skillet cake is probably the most unusual. It is worthy of an attempt by anyone reading this because I think it has great potential to be tweaked according to your own tastes. To my surprise when I first saw this recipe, the cake contains no added sugar apart from the mere tablespoon of honey, and no butter or oil either. The sweetness contributed by the prunes is amazingly all the cake needs to make it the perfect accompaniment to a cup of tea, when you’re craving something that’s not loaded with sugar. That is, as long as you don’t proceed to ruin things by pouring over a hearty dose of maple caramel sauce. That was just me trying (and failing) to resist the temptation to dessert-ify my breakfast.

Pain aux Pruneaux :
(from Home Baking by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid)

1 cup pitted prunes
1/2 cup cognac or Armagnac
1 tablespoon honey, heated until runny
2 large eggs
1 1/4 cups light buckwheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup whole milk

Chop the prunes into 2 or 3 pieces each. Soak them in the cognac for 8 to 24 hours.

Place a baking stone or unglazed quarry tiles, if you have them (or a heavy baking sheet) on a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 190’C. Butter a 9-inch cast-iron or other heavy ovenproof skillet.

Whisk the honey and eggs together in a medium bowl until tripled in volume. In a small bowl, mix together the flour, salt, and pepper. Stir 1/3 cup of the flour into the egg mixture, then stir in 1/3 cup of the milk. Repeat, alternating until all the flour and milk have been stirred in. Fold in the prunes and any remaining cognac.

Pour the batter into the skillet. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a faint line of brown forms around the edges of the cake and the cake is starting to pull away from the sides of the skillet. There will be small bubbles or holes on the surface.

Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 or more minutes before serving. The top surface of the cake will be tacky, but the crumb will be firm and spongy. Serve from the skillet, or flip onto a plate.

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23 Comments »

  1. Wei-Wei said,

    August 16, 2010 @ 12:12 am

    Skillet cake looks absolutely amazing. I haven’t tried it before because I don’t own a skillet… and I haven’t eaten it before, either! It looks so yummy. Nom. 😀

    Wei-Wei

  2. Rosa said,

    August 16, 2010 @ 12:21 am

    So delicious! This Pain Aux Pruneaux looks wonderful!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  3. [email protected] said,

    August 16, 2010 @ 12:58 am

    Those pancakes look so plump and inviting! I have been meaning to work with Buckwheat- the Prune cake looks like a good option to start with. Love your skillet – very rustic and old world 🙂

  4. chocolatesuze said,

    August 16, 2010 @ 1:01 am

    ooh i want to try the spiced cherry! have you tried doing a skillet cookie?

  5. grace said,

    August 16, 2010 @ 7:49 am

    i’m sorry, did you say maple caramel sauce? so much for any semblance of a diet in my life. 🙂

  6. Steph said,

    August 16, 2010 @ 8:33 am

    Haha I always wonder whether things I tasted when I was younger were that much better or just lack of experience made them seem better. I love the idea of a skillet cake, I need a pan like that!

  7. OohLookBel said,

    August 16, 2010 @ 10:01 am

    I don’t think you could have the skillet cake without the maple caramel sauce! And I love the omelette pan you’ve used, it looks so rustic.

  8. [email protected] said,

    August 16, 2010 @ 11:57 am

    I have got to try this!! I only recently got a skillet and aside from making bread rolls and omelettes haven’t used for anything new!!!! This is perfecT!!! 😀

  9. Fig and Cherry said,

    August 16, 2010 @ 2:03 pm

    Yum! Have never tried a skillet cake. The prune one sounds lovely and I like the way I can have the alcohol because it will be cooked 😉

  10. Xiaolu said,

    August 16, 2010 @ 3:49 pm

    I love my cast iron skillet and love the idea of using it to make cake. This is great!

  11. InTolerantChef said,

    August 16, 2010 @ 6:21 pm

    I haven’t heard of these before either, but I love my pancakes thick and fluffy! I’ll definately give them a try.

  12. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said,

    August 16, 2010 @ 11:16 pm

    Interesting looking cake. I’ve never made one myself! Is it like one giant, thick pancake?

  13. Q. said,

    August 17, 2010 @ 3:45 am

    This looks DIVINE! I have three black skillets and love to use them, but never for baking! Must try this. I’m also just starting to experiment with gluten-free baking and low-sugar baking. This fits the bill for sure.

  14. anna said,

    August 19, 2010 @ 1:52 pm

    That all looks amazing, but I especially like the idea of sourdough pancakes. Yum.

  15. Jamie said,

    August 25, 2010 @ 5:58 pm

    I need to buy an oven-proof skillet! And I have never seen any pancakes as impressive as these! And love the very Breton of flavors in this pancake!

  16. Caitlin said,

    September 7, 2010 @ 9:39 pm

    Oh that sounds lovely! That book is one I’ve had on my to-buy list for quite a while, and this might be just the reason to buy it. Also, sourdough pancakes? AWESOME. I definitely need to get a new sourdough starter going now that I’m in my new apartment and all settled.

  17. naomi said,

    September 11, 2010 @ 2:17 am

    This love the skillet cake and the sourdough pancakes. Like you, I’m pretty picky when it comes to my pancakes. They are one of my favorite breakfast items and I have yet to try sourdough ones, so time to give this a go!

  18. Sherman Unkefer said,

    September 11, 2010 @ 7:54 am

    I love skillet cakes and this looks amazing! I haven’t had one in so long – I’m going to have to try this!

  19. Cinny said,

    September 25, 2010 @ 2:57 am

    Uuuuuh… is it just me or is everyone else searching the net for a recipe for maple caramel sauce, too?

  20. Emma said,

    October 19, 2010 @ 10:08 am

    I have to buy a skillet, I feel I’m missing out on so much by not having one – this looks delicious 🙂

  21. Di said,

    January 13, 2011 @ 2:38 pm

    Oh yum, it’s not fair to but pictures on your blog and not explain how you made them, or at least where you got the recipe for the spiced cherry and yogurt cake.

  22. Y said,

    January 14, 2011 @ 1:18 am

    Hi Di, that cherry and yogurt cake is an adaptation of the every-day skillet cake recipe in Home Baking by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid.

  23. Becca said,

    January 15, 2011 @ 5:45 am

    gorgeous!
    I love prunes in cake. and I JUST bought my first bit of buckwheat, so this may be bookmarked for use. thanks!

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