Tuesday, March 11, 2008

TWD: Russian Grandmothers' Apple Pie-Cake

TWD Mosaic

This was my week to choose for Tuesdays with Dorie, and it wasn't easy given all those fantastic recipes. Erin beat me to the cookie section last week, so I moved further back in the book to the pie and tart section. This one stood out for me both for the wonderful story behind the recipe and the recipe itself. The playing around section for this recipe is huge and runs the gamut from turnovers through deep dish pies. For my first run through, I decided to stick to the recipe as written figuring I could play around with it after getting a feel for the base.

The dough was sticky, but oh so tasty. I rolled it out between sheets of waxed paper, and it took some serious coaxing to get it into the 13x9 pan. I used a mix of Gala, Fuji, and Granny Smith apples in the filling, but the apples really didn't pop this time around.  And the edges came out a hairs breadth from burned even though I took it out at the minimum time.  

Lessons Learned: I need more work with rolling out dough in general.  Also for next time, I'll try this as a deep dish pie and try a different mix of apples.

Conclusion: Very tasty (if slightly odd).  The coworkers scarfed it down, and it would probably have been even better with some ice cream or whipped cream.

Don't forget to see how the rest of the TWD group fared with this week's recipe!

Russian Grandmothers' Apple Pie-Cake

For The Dough
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Juice of 1 lemon
3 1/4 - 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

For The Apples
10 medium apples, all one kind or a mix (I like to use Fuji, Golden Delicious and Ida Reds; my grandmother probably used dry baking apples like Cordland and Rome)
Squirt of fresh lemon juice
1 cup moist, plump raisins (dark or golden)
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Sugar, preferably decorating (coarse) sugar, for dusting

To Make The Dough: Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs and continue to beat until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 3 minutes more. Reduce the mixer speed to low, add the baking powder and salt and mix just to combine. Add the lemon juice - the dough will probably curdle, but don't worry about it. Still working on low speed, slowly but steadily add 3 1/4 cups of the flour, mixing to incorporate it and scraping down the bowl as needed. The dough is meant to be soft, but if you think it looks more like a batter than a dough at this point, add the extra 1/4 cup flour. (The dough usually needs the extra flour.) When properly combined, the dough should almost clean the sides of the bowl.

Turn the dough out onto a work surface, gather it into a ball and divide it in half. Shape each half into a rectangle. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or for up to 3 days. (The dough can be wrapped airtight and frozen for up to 2 months; defrost overnight in the refrigerator.)

To Make The Apples: Peel and core the apples and cut into slices about 1/4 inch thick; cut the slices in half crosswise if you want. Toss the slices in a bowl with a little lemon juice - even with the juice, the apples may turn brown, but that's fine - and add the raisins. Mix the sugar and cinnamon together, sprinkle over the apples and stir to coat evenly. Taste an apple and add more sugar, cinnamon, and/or lemon juice if you like.

Getting Ready to Bake: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Generously butter a 9x12-inch baking pan (Pyrex is good) and place it on a baking shee tlined with parchment or a silicone mat.

Remove the dough from the fridge. If it is too hard to roll and it cracks, either let it sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes or give it a few bashes with your rolling pin to get it moving. Once it's a little more malleable, you've got a few choices. You can roll it on a well-floured work surface or roll it between sheets of plastic wrap or wax paper. You can even press or roll out pieces of the dough and patch them together in the pan - because of the baking powder in the dough, it will puff and self-heal under the oven's heat. Roll the dough out until it is just a little larger all around than your pan and about 1/4 inch thick - you don't want the dough to be too thin, because you really want to taste it. Transfer the dough to the pan. If the dough comes up the sides of the pan, that's fine; if it doesn't that's fine too.

Give the apples another toss in the bowl, then turn them into the pan and, using your hands, spread them evenely across the bottom.

Roll out the second piece of dough and position it over the apples. Cut the dough so you've got a 1/4 to 1/2 inch overhang and tuck the excess into the sides of the pan, as though you were making a bed. (If you don't have that much overhang, just press what you've got against the sides of the pan.)

Brush the top of the dough lightly with water and sprinkle sugar over the dough. Using a small sharp knife, cut 6 to 8 evenly spaced slits in the dough.

Bake for 65 to 80 minutes, or until the dough is a nice golden brown and the juices from the apples are bubbling up through the slits. Transfer the baking pan to a cooling rack and cool to just warm or to room temperature. You'll be tempted to taste it sooner, but I think the dough needs a little time to rest.


noskos said...

Thanks for picking this recipe! We didn't really care for it, but I learned a few lessons from it and that is one of the reasons why I joined TWD.
Yours looks great!

Sarah said...

Great job and good recipe pick. It was a bit odd, but the dough was so good!

Madam Chow said...

This turned out soooo much better than I expected! I absolutely loved it. Very odd dough, but delicious. I can see myself making it again.

April said...

It looks great! Unfortunatly, I wasn't able to make it for this week, but it sounds like a great one!

Anonymous said...

I love how wonderfully browned yours got!

Annemarie said...

Great recipe! I loved making it and eating it!! Thanks! Yours looks wonderful!!!

Anonymous said...

You should get an award for picking this recipe, it's frigging addictive! Yours looks so tasty, that dough was tricky to work with! Thank you so much sugah, this was a really good week.

steph- whisk/spoon said...

nice pick natalie! my husband and i loved it (and it was great with whipped cream)!

Mevrouw Cupcake said...

I didn't think I'd like it as much as I did. Great choice, I'll be making it again!

Amy said...

Your pics look so yummy!

Marie said...

Overall this was a tasty recipe, although like you I found mine to be a bit on the dry side. I compensated for that by adding a nice scoop of vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of maple syrup when it came time to serve.

ostwestwind said...

Well done! For me it's always interesting to bake a new cake. This one was so different from all apple cakes I baked before.

Ulrike from Küchenlatein

CB said...

I think next time I make it I'll have to try it with a mix of different apples. Your pie-cake looks yummy! Great job! Thanks for hosting!

slush said...

Great choice Natalie, I think most everyone really enjoyed it. I too need to get better with rolling out dough, I am plain awful at it. I was glad Dorie said this dough could handle patch work, because I totally did a patch job.

Fantastic job!

Erin said...

This looks great! Thanks for picking such a great recipe!

Dianne said...

I made mini versions of the pie-cake, but it turned out great! Thanks for choosing the recipe. :)

Jhianna said...

Noskos: I left out the part about my husband not liking it. I keep going "No. Maybe. Yes! Maybe" Glad you learned something at least!

Sarah: Thanks! It was odd, wasn't it? I tasted the dough before it went in, and I'm still trying to come up with other ways to use it.

Madam Chow: Yay! I'm glad you liked it so much.

April: Every week, I expect time to get away from me and miss out. My turn is coming one of these days!

Chelley325: I left off the picture of the one really browned bit. :)

Annemarie: Sweet! Glad you liked it!

Lemontartlet: Awww, shucks! I'm glad you liked it!

Steph (Whisk/spoon): Glad you liked it!

Mevrouw cupcake: Glad you liked it too!

Amy: Thanks!

Marie: Oooooh, that sounds fabulous... I wish I'd had ice cream in the house and thought to try the maple syrup. Great idea!

Ostwestwind: It was unlike anything I've ever baked too. Glad you liked it!

CB: I need to play with the apple mix for the next time too. Glad you liked it and thanks!

Slush: Thank you! I was really glad it could handle patching, because otherwise, I'd have had to find a smaller than normal pie pan. LOL

Erin: Thanks and you're welcome!

Dianne: I think mini versions might be the way to go, great idea!

Carrie said...

Wonderful choice Natalie. I'm very sad I could not participate. Forgive me?

Judy said...

What a great choice. I thought it was delicious.

Claudia said...

Your apple pie looks delicious! While preparing the pie-cake I realized that this recipe comes close to the one of my family - and I haven't baked it for so long. Thanks again!

Heather said...

Great pick on the recipe! It was my first TWD and this came out great!

Yours looks delicious!

amanda. said...

Thanks for choosing this recipe. It's something I would've never chosen to make on my own but I'd be missing so much if I hadn't. It was delicious!

Melissa said...

Thanks for picking this week's recipe. I thought it was great, and didn't even have any problems with the dough!

Lori said...

Thanks for the great challenge! Your cake turned out great. I also think some vanilla ice cream would've been perfect with it!

Di said...

At first I wasn't sure if I liked this enough to make it again, but it's growing on me. Plus I want to try it again to see if I can make it turn out better. Thanks for picking a recipe that took me out of my comfort zone. =)

Jaime said...

thanks for picking this recipe! i had never made a pie crust from scratch before and i think this one is more fool proof than your standard one :)

Karina said...

I loved this recipe, thank you for picking such a winner! Yours looks delicious!

Dolores said...

I baked up my Russian Apple Pie-(Cup)cakes for breakfast this morning... then took 11 of them to work to share the love.

They were a hit... thanks for choosing a great recipe that I otherwise would have passed over!

eatme_delicious said...

Haha I agree, this dessert is slightly odd. But it's something different and has a really comforting homey feely to it. Thanks for choosing this recipe! Yours looks delicious.

Sweet and Savory Eats said...

Great choice this week. I almost didn't bake this one because I am not normally a lover of fruit pastries. But, I was glad I did. Yummy!

Peabody said...

Seriously LOVED this. Thanks so much for picking it.

Gretchen Noelle said...

Yours turned out looking tasty!! Thanks for a great pick this week.

Engineer Baker said...

Awesome choice, and it was so very good!

Joann Kim said...

I made this pie-cake for TWD this week rather than the biscotti and it amazing! Thanks for picking the recipe, even if it was 7 months ago!


thanks and best,