I’m always interested in learning about recipes from other countries and cultures, so when my polish work colleagues came on board, I naturally picked their brains about what bakes are traditional for them. One of the recipes mentioned was this one for an apple szarlotka. It is essentially a polish version of apple pie, where the pastry on top of the apple is frozen and then grated, to provide the distinctive looking topping.
I found this much sweeter than apple pie as the Brits know it as their dough contains a lot of sugar. So much so, that the second time I made this, I cut down the amount of sugar which was much more to my palate (and better for my blood sugar levels).
- half a lemon
- 6 large Bramley or cooking apples
- 2 tbsp soft brown sugar
- 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
- 450g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 200g unsalted butter, cut into pieces, plus extra for greasing
- 175g golden caster sugar
- 3 egg yolks, plus 1 whole egg, at room temperature
- 1 tbsp natural yogurt
- 1 tbsp lemon zest (from the half a lemon, above)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Grease and line a 20 x 29cm baking tray with baking parchment.
- For the filling, zest the lemon half and leave aside for the dough. Peel, core and thinly slice the apples, then squeeze over the juice of the lemon to stop the fruit turning brown. Put the apples in a large pan and add the sugar, 200ml water and cinnamon. Cook for 5 mins, then remove from the heat and leave to cool in the liquid (you’ll need this later).
- To make the dough, put the flour and baking powder in a food processor or into a large bowl and pulse or stir to combine. Add the butter and mix again until the mixture is sandy. Add the sugar, egg yolks and egg, yogurt, lemon zest and vanilla extract and mix into a dough. Tip it out onto a floured surface. Bring it together with your hands and roll it into a ball.
- Split the dough in half, wrap one half in cling film and freeze for 1 hr. Roll out the other dough half so that it is big enough to fill the bottom of the lined tray. With the palm of your hand, push the dough about halfway up the sides of the tray until the whole base is covered. Prick the dough with a fork and bake in the oven for about 15 mins until it is golden and lightly springy to the touch.
- Spoon over the apple filling, with about half the cooking liquid, then set aside.
- Remove the dough from the freezer and coarsely grate, as you would a block of cheese. Sprinkle the grated dough over the apples and bake for 40-45 mins until it is golden and the topping has cooked through. Leave to cool completely, dust with icing sugar, then cut into squares.