Russian Apple Pancakes

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

Yeasted pancakes, like sourdough pancakes, have a moist texture and an airiness that we love. These are apple pancakes with a difference, a version of the yeasted Russian pancakes called olad’ye. We make them as a dessert. Rather than including sliced apple in the batter, this recipe calls for cooking the apples separately, then pouring the batter over them. The apple slices caramelize, like a pancake version of tarte Tatin; then the pancake’s top surface is caramelized, either in a skillet or under the broiler. We call for a blend of whole wheat and white flours. Use the proportion you wish (we like both versions equally and can’t decide between them), and adjust the quantity of milk as directed. Make the batter at least six hours ahead, then cook the pancakes quickly, just before serving. Serve hot for breakfast or brunch, plain or with maple syrup. Or, if serving for dessert, offer heavy cream or vanilla or nut-flavored ice cream as an accompaniment. You can serve the cakes on a platter and let guests slice off wedges as they wish, or you can cut them beforehand into individual servings. Allow a third to a half of a skillet cake per person for breakfast, depending on the appetite, and a quarter per person for dessert.

Makes2 large apple-filled pancakes with caramelized surfaces; serves 6 to 8

Cooking Methodbroiling, sauteeing


Total Timehalf-day

Kid FriendlyYes

OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Family Get-together

Recipe Coursedessert, main course

Dietary Considerationhalal, kosher, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free, vegetarian

Mealbreakfast, brunch, dinner

Taste and Texturebuttery, fruity, sweet

Type of Dishdessert, fruit


  • 1 cup whole or reduced fat milk (plus 2 tablespoons if using ¾ cup whole wheat flour), heated to lukewarm
  • ½ teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 1½ cups flour: ¾ cup each whole wheat and all purpose, or ½ cup whole wheat and 1 cup all-purpose
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 medium to large tart apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
  • About 2 tablespoons cinnamon sugar (½ teaspoon cinnamon to 2 tablespoons sugar)


  1. Place the milk in a medium bowl and stir in the yeast, then stir in the flour and 2 tablespoons sugar. Stir for 1 minute, then set aside for 30 minutes to 2 hours, whichever is most convenient.

  2. When ready to proceed, add the egg, salt, and melted butter and mix thoroughly. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand for 6 to 8 hours, or overnight. (If keeping the batter for longer than 8 hours, or if the temperature is very warm, refrigerate the batter until 2 hours before using.) The batter should be bubbly when ready.

  3. Before cooking the pancakes, decide which method you wish to use to caramelize the pancakes: If using a broiler, turn on the broiler and use an ovenproof 8- to 9-inch skillet. Otherwise, put out two heavy 8- to 9-inch skillets.

  4. Heat a heavy 8- to 9-inch skillet over medium heat, and melt 1 tablespoon of the butter. Add half the apples and sauté until soft but not brown. Spread the slices well over the bottom of the pan, sprinkle on 1 tablespoon sugar, and lower the heat to medium-low. Pour on a scant 1½ cups batter and spread it to the edges of the skillet. Cook until the top is spongy and dull, no longer liquid and shiny, about 5 minutes (be patient). Meanwhile, if using two skillets, butter the other one lightly and place over medium-high heat.

  5. Sprinkle the top of the pancake generously with cinnamon sugar (about 1 tablespoon). Place the skillet under the broiler and broil until the cinnamon sugar melts, about 1 minute; or flip the pancake into the other skillet and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer the pancake to a platter apple side up.

  6. Repeat with the second pancake. Serve hot.



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