Here, a simple trick creates the perfect pancake every time. Preheat the baking dish before adding the fruit and batter, giving the pancake a head start, so it billows like a popover in the oven. If you prefer, substitute Anjou or Red Bartlett pears for the apples.
Apple Oven Pancake
4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
4 cups diced peeled tart apples, such as Granny Smith
2 Tbs. firmly packed light brown sugar
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup milk
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. salt
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting
Position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 425°F.
In a large fry pan over medium-high heat, melt 2 Tbs. of the butter. Add the apples and cook, turning as needed, just until tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Sprinkle evenly with the brown sugar, lemon juice and cinnamon and stir to combine. Remove from the heat.
Place a large baking dish 12 inches in diameter or 9 by 13 inches in the oven to heat for 5 minutes. Remove the dish from the oven, add the remaining 2 Tbs. butter, and tilt the dish to coat the bottom and sides with the butter. Spoon the apples over the bottom of the dish in an even layer.
In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, flour, vanilla and salt until blended. Carefully pour the batter over the hot fruit.
Bake until the pancake is puffed and golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the oven. Using a fine-mesh sieve, dust the top with confectioners’ sugar. Serve immediately. Serves 6.