1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped out
3 wide strips lemon zest
1/2 cup cognac or brandy
2 firm cooking apples (such as Fuji), peeled and cut into wedges
3 Bosc pears, peeled and cut into wedges
For the pancake:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup half-and-half
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting
To make the compote, soak the prunes and tea bags for 20 minutes in 1 cup of boiling water. Teabags should be discarded.
In a small saucepan, combine the prunes and soaking liquid. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar, salt, vanilla seeds and pod, lemon zest, and cognac have dissolved about 10 to 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the apples and pears are soft, about 15 minutes. Place in a bowl and set aside to cool. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 1 week after covering.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F before making the pancake. In a 12-inch cast-iron skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. 2 tablespoons melted butter in a blender (reserve the rest in the skillet off the heat). In a blender, combine the eggs, salt, and half-and-half. Blend in the flour until it is completely smooth. Blend the orange zest, orange juice, and almond essence.
Heat the reserved butter in the skillet over medium-high heat and swirl to coat. Add the batter, put to the oven, and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until puffed and golden. If preferred, reheat the compote and discard the lemon zest and vanilla pod. Serve with the compote and a dusting of confectioners' sugar on the pancake