By Conner Cogwork
Appfelpfankuchen, a dessert pancake made with apples, and a perfect kitchen challenge for a pegasus like Rainbow Dash! Question is, will she taste sweet victory? Or bitter defeat?
"Appfelpfankuchen?" the magician asked, thoroughly confused about her friend's most recent project.
"Yeah!" Rainbow Dash cheered as she hovered alongside her purple friend down the road into Ponyville proper. "I've heard Applejack go on for hours about the stuff! And she always makes it sound really tasty! I mean, it's an apple pancake! Pancakes are foal's play!"
"Uh-huh." She was given a flat look. "And you say you're going to cook this... Appfelpfankuchen... by yourself?"
"You betcha!" the pegasus punched the air in excitement. "AJ even gave me the recipe and everything! How much trouble could it be to fix?"
Twilight simply raised an eyebrow. "Dash… I don't think I've ever seen you in the kitchen before… Tell me, you can cook for yourself, right?"
A hoof was waved. "Seriously Twi, it can't be that hard. I mean, it's an APPLE PANCAKE. All I need to do is follow the directions, right? No problem at all!"
Her dark-maned companion wasn't so assured. "Dash, I know you're excited about this, but don't forget to take your time! Cooking is all about chemistry and timing, and I happen to know you're not real big on either."
"What's that supposed to mean?" The cyan mare fixed her with a challenging look. "Hey, I'll tell you what. At sundown, get your cloud-walking spell ready. I'll treat all five of you to my pancakes, and prove that I'm just as good a cook as anypony else! You'll see! I'll drop by Sugarcube Corner, grab the right stuff, and mix it up! Easy as Pinkie Pie."
The unicorn blanched. "Did you just call Pinkie 'EASY'?"
Rose eyes widened as hooves flew to her mouth. "Uhm... I-I mean... N-No, not like THAT! I mean... oh just ferget it!" She flapped on ahead, her previous good mood having been soured by her slip.
Twilight couldn't help but shake her head and sigh with a smile. Well, it's free dinner. she mused. But with Rainbow as the head chef... her expression then clouded with worry. Would they be walking away with full bellies? Or green faces?
"OkieDokieDashie!" The party pony eagerly enthused, hopping up and down in front of her friend. "What'cha need for them appley goodies!"
The pegasus referenced her list once more, a tongue stuck out in concentration. Both her and the pie filly were alone in Sugarcube Corner's kitchen, the only place in Ponyville where Rainbow knew for certain would have the items she needed. After a length of perusing her list, she finally spoke.
"Well… I've only heard of half of these things before, so you're gonna have to bear with me. Um… I'm going to need Baking powder.'
"Sure thing! Do you want Clabber Filly, Old Indian, or Generic Storebrand Name?"
Dash blinked. That's a lot of names. "Uhm… Storebrand's cheaper, right? I'll go with that."
The Earth-pony gave a quick disapproving look, but other wise shrugged, no questions asked. She stuck a hoof into a cabinet, and retrieved a can of the leavening agent. "OkieDokieLokie. What else?"
"Er… Unsalted butter." The blue pony made a face. "Butter normally has salt in it?"
"Uh-huh! The taste can be REALLY different, depending on what you use!" The pink filly then performed a cartwheel towards the fridge, opening it up and rummaging with her hind hooves alone, before somersaulting back with a stick of butter in tow. Placing it on the counter, she then asked "What else?"
"Let's see… what's a Nut-meeg?"
"Oh, NUTMEG! It's a nut! But it's named Meg! I don't know WHY they call it that, but it tastes REALLY good when it's ground up and used to season apples! Sometimes I use it to season spinach too! Though I don't suggest you use spinach and apples in the same dish at the same time, cause that would be weird."
Rainbow raised an eyebrow. Why name a nut if you were going to grind it? Why would you use it to even season spinach? She hated spinach. "Okay, moving right along. The last thing I need is… either Vanilla sugar, or…. Vanilla ten times sugar?" She gave her list a disbelieving look.
"Ooooooooh~" Pinkie crooned. "That stuff's STRONG. I'll have to look for it! Be right back!"
The pegasus waited patiently for her pink pony friend to return. She hadn't thought it'd be so much. Everything else, she knew she had at home. Or otherwise, could make do. It's not that hard. she assured herself. It's just an apple pancake. That's all there is to it. You'll prove that you're just as good at cooking as either Applejack or Pinkie Pie!
Pinkie did return, with a sizable sack that gave the little filly a good deal of struggling as she hauled it through the kitchen. "Got it all! Here you go Dashie! You'll be on your way to Apple-fell-fanny-cutie in no-time!"
"That's Appfelpfankuchen." Rainbow corrected, but spread her wings as she motioned for Pinkie to load her up. The party pony glanced at her, then at the bag, and then back again.
"Uhm... Dashie? You sure you wanna be carrying ALL this stuff by yourself?"
She gave her friend a look of consternation. "Of course I'm sure. What, you don't think I can handle it?"
"Well it's not that." Pinkie stated, eyes directed at the ceiling as she began to ramble. "It's just that a cup of sugar weighs about seven ounces, and two cups plus a hoof-full makes for a pound, and there's an awful lotta cups of sugar in this bag, which means a lotta pounds. Actually, I think it's even got more pounds than Rarity, but don't tell her I was talking about her weight, cause then she'll get all mad and huffy and be all like-"
"Pinkie." Dash interrupted, an even tone to her voice. "I've carried Rarity. And three Wonderbolts, all at the same time. I think I can handle a bag of sugar."
The frizzy-maned one clopped her forehooves together in trepidation. "Well, it's not that I don't believe you, but, uhm, you've never hauled rocks before Dashie, like I have. And there's a certain kind of-"
"PINKIE." Louder, more firm, accompanied by a glare. "Load me up."
Three minutes later finally saw Rainbow Dash leaving the corner. Equestria's fastest pegasus trundled along at a snail's pace, her face lined with strain, as she hoped to high Celestia that the results would be well worth the back pain.
It was not working out like she had planned at all.
Step one: Batter.
"Okay… let's see here." Rainbow Dash stated as she stood at the kitchen table in her cloud-home. She was fairly excited. Besides cooking instant Carrot noodles or cloud-zapping frozen flowers, she had never really had a need to use her kitchen all that much. This was her first real excuse to put it to the test!
I'll show 'em. she thought to herself. Twilight'll see that I can do this just as good as anypony! Now... to see if I really CAN! So let's start!
She squinted her rose eyes at the recipe. "For the pancake batter: Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt into a small mixing bowl and make a..." she paused, her eyes jumping ahead a few lines. "Whisk the milk, egg, butter… until smooth…" Her rose orbs flickered again. "Pour into the dry ingredients, and whisk until creamy. Cover and let stand… Okay! No problem!" she then crowed. "It just needs me to put it all in a bowl and mash it all together!"
Flour and milk drops began flying as she proceeded to follow what she'd read. However, what she'd read, was not the whole recipe. Being an impatient sort usually encouraged one to SPEED-read through any piece of text that they encountered, instructions on batter-construction or not.
The bowl she was using, was finding itself quickly overwhelmed as Dash took a whisk to its contents and began to stir. And Stir.
Her eyes narrowed as her jaw cramped. Removing the whisk, she took a good long look at her bowl. The flour was clumping up and making the batter stiff, slowing things down.
"I know what it needs." she declared. "More lube!"
Lube appeared in the form of two cups more milk than what the recipe originally called for. She then narrowed her eyes as she added "And secondly… More SPEED!"
The blue pegasus flapped her wings, took to the air, hovered herself over the bowl with the whisk in her mouth, and then proceeded to turn herself into a multihued maelstrom. Upon making contact with the batter, the kitchen walls were instantly redecorated in painted spots of beige and white.
She finished, and sat herself back down, admiring her handiwork. It was batter, alright. Lumpy and foamy batter, with chunks of unmelted butter bobbing on the surface. But batter nonetheless.
Dash then looked about the room, and discovered the impromptu redecoration that had blown through. "Whoops." She chuckled nervously. "Got a little carried away there. Ahh well, I've been wanting to do something to the place anyways... hope the stuff doesn't smell when it dries."
Step two: Apple Mixture.
After a quick wipe-down of her table, Rainbow tried her best to ignore the clumps that were clinging to her mane as she stared down the collection of Golden Delicious apples she had been given from her farmer friend, with blessing.
"Okay." She stated, glancing to her recipe again. "Quarter each apple, letting the slices fall... Add the sugar mixture and lemon, toss well... Melt the butter in a heavy 12-inch skillet over moderate heat, then… Ah! Just mix up the apples with stuff, and then cook it! That's easy!"
She brandished an apple-slicing mold that she had obtained for this very purpose. Slicing the apples were a piece of cake. Sure, a few of them still had seeds, but hey, she'd seen AJ eat apples whole before. Surely a few seeds wouldn't kill a pony, right?
She dumped them into a bowl, and added the sugar and cinnamon. Simple enough. The filly couldn't help but beam in pride at herself for that flawless execution. She went and grabbed the next ingredient. A bag of… vanilla lemon drops.
It had called for lemon juice. She was certain she had some beforehand, but a quick search after her return from the Corner had revealed that she was out. For a minute, the pegasus had considered flying back to the bakery to see if they had any... but a glance at the clock told her it would take too long.
She would make do. Vanilla lemon drops were just as good, right? Besides, she figured they would melt when cooked anyways, so she didn't see it as that big a deal. The whole bag was added as she enthused to herself "I bet these'll be the BEST apple pancakes anypony's ever EATEN!"
Finally, it came to the nuts named Meg. As she retrieved the bottle from the sack, it rattled in her grip. Surprised, she looked inside the vessel.
Pinkie had given her whole nutmeg, not ground. Did the recipe call for ground? She couldn't remember right off the top of her head, and she didn't want to waste time searching for a few measly words.
The blue pony shrugged. Grinding takes too much time anyways. she told herself as she added the contents of the whole entire bottle to the mixture, each nut making a dull sound as it landed.
After mixing and setting in a skillet over heat, she stirred the cinnamon mixture steadily. The cinnamon smelled heavenly, and she couldn't wait for the drops to start melting too. Eventually she got her wish, but accompanied with unexpected results, as an aroma reminiscent to burnt sugar began to waft from the pan.
She didn't see any burn marks on the final mixture. It had become a large, sticky and lumpy mass during the process. But the smell was bad enough to call for opening every window in the house.
"Hmmm… maybe I used too many Lemon drops."
Step three: Pancake assembly
"Okay, so… the batter goes inside the pan FIRST…" The pegasus unsteadily held a pitcher full of liquid dough in her mouth, over a blazing hot skillet, her eyes switching back and forth between the stove and the recipe. "I need to… coat the bottom of the pan evenly. The bottom? Well… if it says so…"
She proceeded to grab the handle of her utensil with both hooves, before flipping the entire thing upside-down. The rising heat from the newly-exposed surface made her squint, as a smile of realization crossed her occupied lips.
"Welp, of course the bottom! That's where the pan's hottest! Makes perfect sense!" She grinned to herself as she proceeded to tilt her head, pouring her batter on-
-And then proceeded to scream in terror and shock as a gout of smoke erupted right into her face. The burner had been set too high.
The next minute or so involved Rainbow Dash running blindly about in her kitchen, wailing like a siren. When it was deduced that wasn't getting her any results, she began groping for her kitchen sink. It was much to her relief when she finally found it and washed her eyes out. Doubtless they would be red and puffy for a day or so, but at least she could see straight again.
She returned to her stove, to see that her first pancake had, in her absence, become less of a pancake and more like a wheel of char. For the first time that evening, she grudgingly made herself re-read the recipe. At least, a certain portion of it that concerned her very much.
"Ooooooooh." the pegasus chanted in understanding. "The Bottom, not the BOTTOM… geeze, why's this gotta be so complicated?" She rubbed at a still stinging eye, face set in frustration. "How can anypony with half a featherbrain be expected to follow this?"
Halfway across Ponyville, a mailmare removed a rack of muffins from her oven, mouth watering as the aroma of real cooking drifted through her dwelling.
Step four: Serving.
Despite being tired, sore, red-eyed, and coated in dough and flour in many places on her body, she was nevertheless feeling quite chipper as they all seated themselves.
"I'm SO glad you all managed to come!" Dash exclaimed happily to her gathered friends as they nestled themselves around her dining room table. "You guys have NO idea how much this means to me!"
"Well shoot, darlin'!" Applejack drawled. "If yer all gonna serve us some grub, y'all know ah'm more than happy to try'em! 'Sides, ah'm dyin' t'know how the recipe turned out fer yah!"
"Uh-huh!" Pinkie Pie cheered, bouncing up and down at her spot at the table. "You're the bestest flier around, who says you can't also be the bestest COOK?"
"Appfelpfankuchen, you say?" Rarity crooned, her eyes alight in curiosity. "It sounds delightfully foreign. I would be more than delighted to sample one, Rainbow."
Fluttershy simply nodded her agreement, while Twilight kept a happy, if somewhat worried, expression on her face. I can only hope that Pinkie's right! "So… when do we eat, Dash?"
"Just give me ten seconds!" the pegasus exclaimed, before zooming off back into the kitchen. The purple unicorn took the opportunity to briefly quiz her friends.
"Do any of you know if Rainbow's ever cooked before?" she asked, unable to keep the worried tone out of her voice.
The farmer bunched her brows up as she thought. "Well... ah recall one time she packed watercress sandwiches fer a picnic. But sandwiches 'n cookin' are two different things. Ah can't say ah rightly recall her ever doin' a hot dish."
"Neither can I, to be honest." the dressmaker agreed. "I've run into her at the store multiple times, but every time I have, she usually has a few cups of instant carrot noodles in her basket."
"Uhm..." Fluttershy finally raised her head to speak. "There was one time when she was helping me make hot chocolate for the local deer. I... I had her boil the water."
Twilight quirked an eyebrow. "What happened?"
"The... the pot caught on fire."
Before anypony could say anything else, their blue pegasus hostess returned with a bunch of plates balanced on her wings, head, and back. She had a content smile on her face as she served each pony with a flourish, the pride evident in her posturing.
As Dash seated herself at the head of the table, she allowed the plate on her head to rest in front of her. She then beamed at all her friends. "Here we go, everypony! Dig in!"
There was a bout of silence as gaping wide eyes stared at the meal in front of them.
Nopony had to heart to say this to Rainbow. But sitting there on each of their plates… there sat a monstrosity. It at least resembled a pancake. A pancake colored the shade and texture of an angry lava field. A pancake that emitted the aroma of burnt candy and toasted flour. A pancake that, when Pinkie poked at it, came apart with a crack like a dry and brittle tree branch, complete with falling bits of bark.
"Uhm…" Twilight stammered. She would gladly have drunken an entire bottle of hot sauce if it had meant avoiding this dish.
"Uh… guys?" The speedster-come-chef looked at her friends with a disappointed face, having caught their expressions. "Let me guess… I used too many lemon drops, huh?"
"Lemon drops?" Applejack thundered, hat popping up slightly. "Weren't you s'possed to use lemon juice?"
"Well, yeah, but lemons are lemons, so I thought-"
"You took a shortcut, didn't you, Rainbow?" the student piped up. "You really thought that vanilla lemon drops were an acceptable substitute for lemon juice?"
The blue pony ducked her head, a sheepish grin on her face. "Uhm... yes?"
"Mmmph! Thishp ifp good, Rainbow!"
This had come from the opposite end of the table. Pinkie Pie had built up the courage to try the blackened dish… and was now in the process of wolfing it down. "Iph donth knof abouf you guyths, buht ah tink shphes good!"
"Y-you think?" Rainbow Dash grinned, heartened once more, before looking down at her own plate… and proceeding to take a bite.
The taste of burnt apples, bits of whole nuts, and prevailing odor of ash came in contact with her tongue. Instantly, she felt her eyes watering again.
"… oh." she mumbled, before moving to the side and spitting it out.
"I especially like how you used whole nutmeg, instead of just grinding it up!" the party pony continued, her mouth apparently capable of withstanding the most charred of foods. "It really gives it that extra crunch. I'll have to keep it in mind the next time I make spinach!"
"Whole?" Twilight whispered, before shaking her head. "I somehow knew this would happen. You got impatient, didn't you Dash?"
"Yeah… I did." Their friend sighed before taking a swig of water. "I thought cooking was gonna be easy… I really wanted to show you guys that I could cook as good as anypony."
"Sugarcube." Applejack began, politely shoving her plate away from her. "It's nothin' to be ashamed of. We all have our talents. An' we all have our weaknesses. Say..." She then leaned forward, resting her elbows on the table. "Did y'all know that though ah can make a pie with the best o' them, ah cain't cook pasta to save mah life? Ah always wind up overcookin' 'em, an' they come out a right sorry mash."
A round of chuckling surrounded the table, before the purple pony herself spoke up. "I can make tea, or coffee, or even toast by myself. But honestly... Spike does so much of the cooking, that I've become a little dependent on him. Usually I can't make more for myself than a daffodil sandwich."
"I can attest to being too hurried to cook at times. " Rarity piped up as well. "There was one time when I had a client coming over, and I hadn't had dinner yet. So I tossed some hay, carrots, and a clove of garlic into a pan of water and set the burner on high." She rolled her eyes. "Never again. It took days to get the smell out of the Boutique."
It amused Dash to think that even the glamorous unicorn had her off days in the kitchen. She couldn't help but snicker as she took another swig of her water. "Okay okay, I think I get it." she stated. "Not every pony is good in the kitchen. Least of all me. I guess I should stick to flying, huh?"
"It's alright, Dash." Fluttershy enthused. "If you ever wanted to give it another shot, you just simply have to slow down. Follow the steps carefully. Take the time to taste your wares before you serve them."
"Oh indeed." Rarity chuckled nervously, finally shifting her own plate away from her. "Cooking may not be your best strong suit, dearie. But that doesn't mean you're a weak pony. No-one here can clear the sky like you can."
"That's right, Rainbow." Applejack added, a smile to her face. "An' ah can't think of anypony else ah'd rather have in charge of the weather. Don't quit yer day job!"
For some reason, that made the vibrant-maned pegasus bark out a laugh. It wasn't long before the entire table with filled with giggles and chuckles, as every pony, including Dash, shoved their plates away. That only left Pinkie glancing around at the burnt foodstuffs, eyes narrowed as she asked her question.
"So… if you guys aren't gonna eat yours… can I have them?"
Unless you want a taste yourself! Then have a look below!
It's a real dish! If you're feeling as adventurous as Rainbow Dash, and know your way around the kitchen, then here's the recipe for you to attempt your own! Good luck!
1 1/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups milk
1 extra large egg
1 tablespoon melted unsalted butter or margarine
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 medium-sized Golden Delicious or tart cooking apples (about 1 1/4 pounds)
2 tablespoons sugar mixed with 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter or margarine
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons Vanilla Sugar or Vanilla 10X sugar
Can also use a lemon syrup sauce or plain vanilla ice cream!
For the pancake batter: Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt into a small mixing bowl and make a well in the center. Whisk the milk, egg, melted butter, and vanilla until smooth in a 1-quart measure. Pour into the dry ingredients, and whisk until creamy. Cover and let stand while you prepare the apples. Do not use two cups more milk that originally called for, and most definitely do not use a tornado maneuver to stir.
For the apple mixture: Quarter each apple, then peel, core, and slice each quarter crosswise 1/8-inch thick, letting the slices fall into a large mixing bowl. Add the sugar mixture and lemon juice and toss well (Do not substitute with vanilla lemon drops at this time.) Melt the butter in a heavy 12-inch skillet over moderate heat, then let it foam up and subside. Add the apple mixture and saute 2 minutes, stirring often. Pour in the water, reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook 5 minutes. Uncover, raise the heat to moderate and boil, uncovered, shaking the skillet often, for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, just until all juices boil away. Scoop the skillet mixture into a 1-quart measure and reserve.
Preheat the oven to 150 to 200 degrees F.
To cook the pancakes: Generously oil the bottom (not the BOTTOM) and sides of a well-seasoned 10-inch omelet pan or spray with nonstick vegetable cooking spray and set over moderate heat for 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat, pour in a scant 1/3 cup of the pancake batter, and tilt the pan first to 1 side, then to another, until the batter coats the bottom of the pan in a thin, even layer. Set the pan on a hot pad on the counter, then by hand, arrange 1/2 cup of the apple slices on top of the batter in the pan, distributing them as evenly as possible. Pour in another scant 1/3 cup batter, covering the apples as uniformly as possible. Tilt the pan gently to distribute the batter more evenly, if necessary.
Set the skillet over moderate heat and cook the pancake, uncovered for 1 minute. Reduce the heat to low and cook, uncovered, 2 minutes longer, until the pancake has dried around the edge and holes begin to appear on top. Spray a small, thin-bladed spatula with the cooking spray, carefully loosen the pancake around the edge, then shake the pan over the heat several times until the pancake moves freely. Quickly spray a large, flat round plate with the cooking spray and ease the pancake onto it right side up. Using potholders to protect your fingers, invert the omelet pan on the plate, then invert once again so the pancake is in the pan uncooked side down. Set over moderate heat and cook the pancake, uncovered, for 2 minutes. Slide onto a large round, ovenproof plate, cover with foil, and set in the warm oven. Cook the remaining pancakes the same way, recoating the skillet with cooking spray before each new pancake. As each new pancake finishes cooking, slide on top of the foil covered pancake, top with more foil and return to the warm oven. When ready to serve, slide each pancake onto a heated plate and dust with vanilla sugar.
The method above is complicated. Below is a broiler method that may be easier for new cooks to handle.
Broiler method: Set the broiler rack 6 to 7 inches below the heating element and preheat the broiler. Follow the basic recipe, but be sure that the omelet pan or skillet you use has a flameproof handle. As soon as a pancake has browned 3 minutes in the skillet on top of the stove, transfer to the broiler and broil 3 to 3 1/2 minutes, until nicely tipped with brown. Carefully loosen the pancake around the edge with a spatula, ease right side up onto a large round plate, cover with foil, and keep warm. Cook the 3 remaining pancakes the same way. Dust with sugar and serve.