I haven’t been baking in a while, I know. I don’t know why…probably because I was eating my way through the gingersnaps I got for Christmas and couldn’t fathom any use for more baked goods. But of course the gingersnaps are exhausted (if I’m honest, they have been for some time) and I’m back in the kitchen.
As soon as I saw this recipe for Russian apple sharlotka on Smitten Kitchen I was…well…smitten. It’s kind of a cake that tastes like kind of a pie that’s really kind of like just eating fruit. Aside from lots of apples, there’s not a whole lot more to this pastry…which means you can totally count this as a healthy fruit snack and not a dessert at all. Win!
Apple Sharlotka (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)
- 5 large apples (I like sweet and tart – I did 3 granny smith and 2 gala)
- juice of half a lemon
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup flour
- 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- powder sugar, for dusting
- butter, for the pan
Let’s get one thing straight: my sharlotka does not look nearly as good as Smitten Kitchen’s. That’s probably because I don’t have a 9-inch springform pan, like she uses, and I didn’t butter and paper my dish like she recommends. Instead, I used a 9-inch glass pie dish, which I thoroughly buttered. Even though the cake wouldn’t extract itself from the dish in one nice piece, it was plenty easy to cut slices from. So…make due. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and butter (and maybe paper or flour, as well) whatever 9-inch-ish pan you’re using.
Peel your apples, cut into quarters and slice the core from each piece. Then cut your quarters in half again and chop into quarter-inch slices. (There’s a pear in the picture because I thought this might be really good with half pears, spiced up with autumn flavors. However, five apples proved plenty to fill my pie dish and I didn’t use the pear after all…but you could!)
Put apple slices in a bowl and toss with the juice of a half a lemon, or a little more if you like, or a little zest if that what catches your fancy. Then put the apples directly in your buttered pan or baking dish.
Next, whisk the eggs and sugar together until well combined, then whisk in the vanilla. Add the flour and cinnamon and stir until just combined. The batter will be very thick! Pour it over the dish of apples and spread with a spoon or spatula to make sure it gets between all the cracks.
You might need to lightly shuffle the top layer of apples to make sure the batter gets to the bottom pretty evenly. I just kind of poked around with a butter knife and checked under the dish (the perk of using a glass pan!) to make sure it looked satisfactory.
Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let it cool for ten minutes, then, if you can, flip it out onto a cooling rack. If you can’t, keep it in the dish, dust with powdered sugar and enjoy! It’s basically health food, right?
In other news, I already crossed something off my 24 Before 25 list! Are you ready? Drumroll please…I watched a whole football game! Ta da! I know that doesn’t sound impressive, but it was on my list because it’s something I’d normally NEVER do. But my lovely boyfriend drew out diagrams and taught me the basic rules, and we watched our Denver Broncos crush the Steelers in a wildcard game tonight (I already sound like I actually know what I’m talking about, right? I don’t, really). There was even overtime…so I was committed to sticking to my list.
So…do I like football now? Heck no! But I have a better appreciation of the skill required to play the game, and I guess I sort of understand why people like it (I, after all, love baseball – and lots of people think that’s uber-boring). The real lesson was that I really, really shouldn’t dismiss anything outright, and in a roundabout way it reinforced my belief that understanding is the key to compassion. Of course I don’t really feel compassion toward the sport, but now that I understand it a little I can almost sort of kind of maybe appreciate it. A little.
So there it is. One down, 23 to go. Next up I think is snowshoeing, reading a book in French (I bought a copy of Balzac’s Pere Goirot) and volunteering (at The Right Step, a therapeutic horseback riding center). Really I’m excited to do everything. Stay tuned!
P.S. This apple sharlotka totally doesn’t count as baking pie, either. I wouldn’t cheat like that!