Heat a small, nonstick frying pan. Add the hazelnuts and toast until golden brown, stirring and tossing constantly: Take care not to overcook the nuts because they burn easily. Tip the nuts into a small bowl.
Sift the flour, bicarb, salt and sugar into a large mixing bowl and make a well in the middle. Lightly beat the egg with the buttermilk. Pour into the well and gradually whisk the flour mixture into the buttermilk mixture to make a smooth, thick batter. Stir in the apple and toasted hazelnuts.
Lightly brush a griddle or heavy-bottomed frying pan with a little of the sunflower oil, then heat over medium heat. Depending on the size of the griddle or pan, cook about 4 pancakes at the same time. For each one, drop a heaped tablespoon batter onto the hot surface. Bubbles will rise to the surface and burst. Gently slip a small metal spatula under the pancakes to loosen, then cook until the undersides are golden brown, about 1 minute longer. Turn the pancakes over and cook the other sides until golden, 1 to 2 minutes.
Remove the pancakes from the pan and keep warm under a clean cloth. Cook the rest of the batter in the same way.
When all the pancakes are cooked, quickly warm the maple syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat. Drizzle the syrup over the warm pancakes.
Buttermilk is the liquid left over after cream has been turned into butter by churning. Contrary to its name, buttermilk does not contain butterfat, but it does provide protein, minerals and milk sugar or lactose, as well as a delightfully piquant taste. * Eating apples with their skins offers the maximum amount of fibre. Research has shown that apples can also help the teeth because they appear to prevent gum disease. * Hazelnuts are rich in the essential fatty acids, vital for normal tissue growth and development.