Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Polish Style Apple Pie

Summer being over, it's time to look for a way to avoid succumbing to the autumnal blues. What can be better than baking a nice cake? :-)
I began the autumn baking season with a Polish style apple pie - szarlotka /pron: sharlotka/. Funnily enough, one of the most iconic Polish cakes, actually originates in France, and what's more, stewed apples is just one of the filling possibilities - it may be made with pears, peaches, apricots and other fruits. The Polish version, though, is invariably made of stewed apples, often with cinnamon, cloves, and sometimes raisins.
Just imagine - the wonderful blend of sweet pastry, stewed apple with a clove and a note of cinnamon... The version I present today is the most basic one. There are quite a few varieties of the cake, but in this case I do believe that less is indeed more! :-)

For the pastry you need:
3 cups of plain all purpose flour
4 eggs
250 g soft butter or margarine
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup caster sugar
1 pack vanilla sugar or vanilla and cinnamon sugar
icing sugar to dust on top

1 kilo tart, juicy apples
5tbsp caster sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
a couple of cloves

Start off with the filling. Peel the apples and remove the insides, then cut them into cubes. Cover the bottom of a large pan with water, add the apples and put onto a low heat. Stir the apples from time to time, and be careful not to let them burn (they like to stick to the bottom if you're not careful, so you may be better off stewing them longer on a smaller flame). When the apple is reduced add caster sugar, cinnamon and cloves and keep stewing for another half hour. Leave to cool. 

Sieve flour into a large bowl, stir in baking soda, sugar and vanilla sugar. Crack in the eggs and add butter (cut into small chunks). Knead the ingredients until they combine. Put 1/3 of the pastry into the freezer and the rest into the fridge for half an hour. Grease the baking tray and cover it with breadcrumbs.

 Take the pastry out of the fridge and line it onto the tray, then prick it with a fork to make sure it raises evenly. Pour the cooled stewed apple onto the pastry. Take the other part of the pastry out of the freezer and grate it onto the stewed apple. Pre-heat the oven to 175C and bake the cake for about 45 minutes. If after that time the pastry is golden brown, it's ready to take out.
Leave the cake to cool and sieve icing sugar on top. The cake may be served either hot or cold, often is accompanied by a scoop of ice-cream or whipped cream.

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