Sonoma Mission Inn Apple Oatcakes

Sunday April 2, 2017

This inventive low-fat recipe (the liquid is water) comes from the Sonoma Mission Inn spa restaurant, one of the great Sonoma Valley overnight destinations, where I had them for breakfast paired with chicken apple sausage. I am glad I asked for the recipe, for I have never seen it anywhere. At first I thought water would not give a nice tender, flavorful pancake, but I was wrong.

Sonoma Mission Inn was at the forefront of the spa cuisine addition to California culinary history. My friend Larry Elbert was the first chef there and created much of the new, very exciting, menu incorporating ingredients to make low fat dishes taste satisfying like millions of calories. At the time, Chef Elbert was considered one of the top three chefs in California. He used to give classes in my area at a cooking school I also taught at and one statement he made stayed with me: It is an ordeal to feed yourself properly.

At last the code was cracked for all the time spent looking for dishes that were healthy along with being tasty and easy to prepare.

Apples are at the core of these pancakes. They give flavor, moisture, texture. Apples are a year-round fruit in California because cold-storage is so efficient, but for a treat, use apples that have been fresh-picked, in July and August.  Use an all-purpose, firm-fleshed cooking apple, such as Granny Smith, Rome Beauty, Golden Delicious, Fuji, or Pippins, for these low-fat breakfast pancakes.

The batter is essentially prepared the night before serving, leaving only the leavenings to be added just before baking. Serve with Maple-Nut Syrup (recipe follows) dripping down the sides of the stack.

Makes Twelve 4-inch pancakes


  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 6 tablespoons  (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 cup quick rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup toasted wheat germ
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 medium apple, peeled, cored, and coarsely grated
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda


1. In a small saucepan, bring the water to a boil.  Add the butter, spices, salt, vanilla, and brown sugar.  Whisk in the oats and wheat germ.  Cover, remove from heat, and let cool for 20 to 30 minutes.

2. With a spatula, scrape the mixture into a bowl and beat with an electric mixer or by hand with a whisk.  Add the eggs, apple, and flour.  Beat until well mixed.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.

3. Just before baking, stir in the baking powder and baking soda.  Thin the batter with extra water if it has become too thick overnight.

4. Heat a griddle or heavy skillet over medium heat until a drop of water skates over the surface, and lightly grease.  Using a 1/4-cup measure for each pancake, pour the batter onto the griddle.  Cook until bubbles form on the surface, the edges are dry, and the bottoms are golden brown, about 2 minutes.  Turn once, cooking the opposite side 1 minute.  When done, the pancakes will look more moist than regular hotcakes and will have a lacy edge.  They will take half the amount of time to cook on the second side.  Serve immediately or keep warm in a 200º oven until ready to serve.

Warm Maple-Nut Syrup

  • 1 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup chopped pecans

In a small saucepan or microwave-proof bowl, combine the syrup and pecans.  Heat over low heat or warm on full power in the microwave until it boils.  Serve immediately or pour into a jar and refrigerate up to 3 days.  Rewarm before serving.  Makes about 1 1/4 cups.

a new cover brings the books to life anew...

Excerpted from The Best Quick Breads, by Beth Hensperger. (c) 2000, used by permission from the Harvard Common Press.

Text copyright Beth Hensperger 2017

Please enjoy the recipe and make it your own. If you copy the recipe and text for internet use, please include my byline and link to my site.

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