There’s so much we didn’t get to tell you during this week’s NY1 segment on Clinton Street Baking Co.’s February Pancake Month. We were so busy telling you the genesis of chef Neil Kleinberg’s whipped egg white pancake recipe that we didn’t get to talk about the toppings (which change every few days until the 29th), or their cookbook (which was named one of the best of the year by the Times last year and was shot by none other than our former photo editor, the talented Michael Harlan Turkell).
This recipe below, for a caramelized apple and pear pancake topping from the Clinton Street Baking Co. Cookbook, can help illustrate both. It’s pretty close to co-owner DeDe Lahman’s favorite February pancake–a circle of thinly sliced pears baked inside a pancake, plus more on top–and it’s also an easy topper to make at home with the two locally grown fruits you can actually find at Greenmarkets these days. Both pears and apples, though harvested in fall, do just fine in cold-storage through the winter. (Some varieties even improve!)
These are really easy to make–in the book, Kleinberg and Lahman add a bit of crumbled homemade almond praline to these pancakes, but you really don’t need to add that step, or maybe sub in some toasted almonds. All you do is roast the fruits with a bit of butter and sugar and lemon juice and cinnamon, and they make their own sauce. Make extra: They’re great on a piece of Orwasher’s whole grain toast with fresh ricotta, or as the base of an upside-down cake, or spooned into your mouth.
Lahman, who is also Kleinberg’s wife, is the inspiration for Pancake Month, now on its fourth year. She suggested the annual event–pancakes served all day with a rotating cast of special toppings–as a way to boost sales in a normally sluggish month and to remind diners that Clinton Street is open for dinner too. Each year she analyzes the previous best-sellers to come up with a current menu, and regulars come by for their favorites. (Japanese pumpkin and banana and Bavarian creme, along with the pears.)
In fact, says Lahman, a lot of folks now just come in for dinner and order the pancakes for dessert, after digging into an order of something like buttermilk fried chicken with honey-Tabasco sauce and jalapeno cornbread or a fresh-ground burger (from a short rib/chuck blend) topped with “sugar bacon” or green chiles. We admire that kind of intestinal fortitude.
Anyhoo, whether you eat them for dessert or for dinner, you really oughtta check out at least one of the pancakes being made this month: Check the list here, and ardent fans should note that a secret topping will be revealed at midnight on the 16th to be served on the 17th.
And should you be making pancakes at home, we suggest you watch our NY1 clip and follow these tips from Kleinberg: Make sure your griddle is good and hot (about 375 degrees, if you can measure it); add a little butter to it for nice browning; look for bubbles to form on the top before you flip; and don’t flip them more than once, if you can help it.They are usually done, he says, when they bounce back when you press down gently on them.
For the complete recipe for Clinton Street Baking Co.’s pancakes, however, you’ll have to buy the book.
Caramelized Apple and Pear Pancakes
From the Clinton Street Baking Co. Cookbook by Dede Lahman and Neil Kleinberg
3 large pears (Bartlett, Anjou, or Bosc; if you don’t know your pear varieties, check usapears.com)
3 large Granny Smith apples (or any other tart variety)
Juice of half a lemon
Pinch of salt
2 pinches of cinnamon
2 tb unsalted butter, melted
1/4 c sugar
Cinnamon sugar for dusting (2 tb sugar and 1/4 tsp cinnamon)
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Peel and core the apples and pears. Cut each half into quarters. You should have 48 pieces. Mix the fruit in the bowl with the lemon juice, salt, and pinch of cinnamon. Mix in the melted butter.
3. Spread the fruit on a cookie sheet in one ever layer and roast in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes until the fruit is caramelized but not burned.
4. Remove the fruit from the oven and sprinkle the surface with the sugar and and an additional pinch of cinnamon. Roast until the sugar has caramelized on top of the fruit and a sauce has begun to form, about 8 to 10 minutes.
5. You can stud some of the pancakes with the apple and pear mixture before flipping to give the pancakes more flavor and texture. Or you can stack each individual serving of warm pancakes and top with tablespoon of the apples and pears, then dust with cinnamon sugar.