Szarlotka

I am happy to have a fitting post to share on Pi day! 🙂

Dorie Greenspan described this Polish dessert as a “combination of a cake, a crumble, and a torte.” After reading this in her book, I expected something different. I would describe it as a fruit-packed deep dish pie.

Because I served it warm, the slices had a little bit of trouble keeping their shape! Ice cream was not an essential accompaniment, but we preferred it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. The recipe was adapted from Baking with Dorie: Sweet, Salty, & Simple by Dorie Greenspan. Next time I would add some cinnamon and nutmeg to the filling.

The original recipe includes ideas for variations in the filling including mixing pears with the apples and using dried cherries or dried cranberries instead of raisins. Toasted nuts would also be delicious in the filling.

Yield: One 9-inch pie (serves 8 to 10)

For the Crust:

  • 306 g (2 1/4 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 150 g (3/4 cup) granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 11 T (5 1/2 oz / 155 g) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 cold large egg
  • 1 cold large egg white

For the Filling:

  • 3 pounds (1.3 kg) sweet apples, such as Fuji or Gala, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 67 g (1/3 cup / 5 T) packed light brown sugar (or more, to taste)
  • 1 1/2 T all-purpose flour
  • 160 g (1 cup) moist, plump raisins, preferably golden
  • cinnamon, nutmeg, and/or allspice, to taste, optional
  • freshly squeezed lemon juice, to taste (I used 1/2 a large lemon)

To Serve:

  • confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
  • ice cream or whipped cream, for serving, optional

To Make the Crust:

  1. Butter a 9-inch springform pan. Place the prepared pan on a parchment paper-lined, rimmed baking sheet.
  2. Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a food processor and pulse to blend.
  3. Drop in the pieces of butter and pulse, about 15 times, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl a couple to times. The mixture should resemble crumbs.
  4. Lightly beat the egg and egg white; add to the flour mixture in 3 additions, pulsing after each. Scrape the bowl as needed. The mixture should form moist clumps and curds.
  5. Turn the dough onto a piece of plastic wrap and gather it together.
  6. Remove 1/3 of the dough, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, and place it in the freezer. (This dough will be used for the topping.)
  7. Shape the remaining dough into a ball, flatten it and sandwich it between sheets of parchment paper.
  8. Roll the dough into a round about 14-inches in diameter. Peel the parchment back intermittently to make sure it’s not creasing the dough. (The round will be about 1/8-inch thick.)
  9. Place the dough (still between the parchment sheets) on a flat surface and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
  10. After chilling, transfer the dough to the springform pan. Gently press it against the bottom and up the sides, patching and folding if necessary. Trim the top even with the pan.
  11. Place the pan/crust in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling.

To Make the Filling:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. (I set my oven to the convection setting.)
  2. Toss the chopped apples, brown sugar, flour, and raisins in a large bowl and mix to coat the apples with sugar and flour. Add the spices at this time as well, if using.
  3. Mix in the lemon juice; mix.
  4. Taste a piece of apple and adjust the sweetness and/or spices, to taste. Let rest for 5 minutes and mix again.
  5. Place the dough-lined pan on the prepared baking sheet.
  6. Scoop the filling into the crust, including any juices that have accumulated in the bowl.
  7. Remove the chunk of dough from the freezer and, using the large holes of a box grater, grate the frozen dough. Intermittently stop and sprinkle the pieces over the top of the apples.
  8. Bake the pie for 40 minutes.
  9. Tent it loosely with foil and bake another 25 minutes or so, until the top is golden brown and, most importantly, the juices are bubbling up thorough the top crust. (I baked it for an additional 35 minutes once tented but would add even more time next time- the apples could have been even more tender.)
  10. Transfer the szarlotka, on the baking sheet, to a rack and let rest for 20 minutes.
  11. Gently run a table knife between the pie and the sides of the pan and remove the sides of the springform pan.
  12. Let the pie cool until it’s just warm or reaches room temperature.

To Serve:

  1. Dust the pie with confectioners’ sugar.
  2. Slice the pie using a serrated knife using a sawing motion.
  3. Serve with a scoop of ice cream or whipped cream, if desired- I recommend it!

Note: The szarlotka is best the day it is made. To store it you can keep it covered at room temperature for one day or refrigerate it for a second day.

My Mother-In-Law’s Napoleon Torte

My Mother-In-Law is an amazing cook. As much as I enjoy baking, I had to take her up on an offer to bring a dessert for our Thanksgiving weekend feasts. After one bite of this beautiful torte, my son exclaimed that it was the best dessert he has eaten in his entire life. I knew that I had to share her recipe as a guest post of sorts. My son wanted the title to be “The Best Dessert the World Has Ever Known.” 🙂

Delicious and pretty! Here it is:

For the Cake Layer:

  • 3 cups (390 g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup light cream

For the Caramel:

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 2 cans (14 oz each) sweetened condensed milk (Carnation or Borden’s Eagle Brand)

For the Pudding:

  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 2 T sauce flour (Wondra brand)
  • 1 T granulated sugar
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup light cream
  • vanilla extract or 1 envelope of Dr. Oetker vanillin sugar
  • 3 oz (1 package) serve and cook vanilla pudding (Jello brand)

For the Apricot Layer:

  • 1 12-oz can Solo Apricot Cake and Pastry Filling

To Make the Cake Layer:

  1. Combine the flour, butter, egg yolks, and light cream until a dough is formed.
  2. Divide the dough into 7 equal balls; refrigerate overnight.
  3. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  4. Line 9.5″ cake pans with parchment; coat with cooking oil spray.
  5. Roll out each ball of dough into a 9.5″ circle (to fit into the cake pan), trying to make rounds of equal thickness.
  6. Prick each round of dough with a fork, cover with aluminum foil (or parchment), and pie weights. Bake for 15 minutes.
  7. Remove the foil and weights and continue baking for 4 to 5 minutes, or until lightly brown. (You may have to use a shield to prevent the edges from over browning.)
  8. Repeat these steps and bake the remaining rounds.
  9. Use 6 rounds for the torte. Crumble one round for decorating.

To Make the Caramel:

  1. Place the cans of sweetened condensed milk in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring water to a simmer and cook for 1 1/2 hours- making sure that the cans are covered with water at all times. Cool completely. (This step can be done in advance.)
  2. Cream the butter until fluffy.
  3. Add 1 1/3 to 1 1/2 cans of caramel (to taste) and mix to incorporate well.

To Make the Pudding:

  1. Beat 3 egg yolks with granulated sugar and vanilla until lemon-yellow.
  2. Mix in flour.
  3. Combine the milk and light cream.
  4. Add one cup of the milk-cream mixture to the egg-flour-vanilla mixture. Mix well.
  5. Transfer the mixture to a saucepan; add the remaining milk-cream mixture. Add the vanilla pudding mix.
  6. Mix well and heat on medium until the mixture comes to a boil. Cover with plastic wrap and cool completely in the refrigerator. (The pudding must be cold!)

To Complete the Filling:

  1. Fold the Caramel into the Pudding until a uniform mixture is achieved.

To Make the Apricot Layer:

  1. Using a small blender, immersion blender, or food processor, blend the apricot filling to make a uniform mass.

To Complete the Torte:

  1. Spread the first cake round with a thin coat of apricot filling and then spread the Caramel/Pudding on top.
  2. Top with the second round of cake; top with the Caramel/Pudding filling layer only.
  3. Continue the process, spreading the apricot filling on every other round.
  4. Cover the top and sides of the cake with the remaining Caramel/Pudding filling.
  5. Crush the 7th round of cake and decorate the sides of the cake to hide any imperfections.
  6. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

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