Szarlotka: Polish Apple Creation

In the world of American desserts, it’s difficult to find an exact niche where a szarlotka, a popular Polish apple dessert, would fit in.

It resembles a traditional American “apple pie,” yet it also has the markings of a fruit cobbler, a fruit tart, and even a cake.

Regardless of its place on the culinary schedule, this delicious hybrid has everyone in my circle of family and friends dying to get their hands on the recipe and attempt to replicate it. For your benefit, I’m including a photo of my very own finished product above, and a detailed recipe to get the same effect.

Szarlotka

This recipe makes roughly an 8×10 pie, but you can play with the dough amounts to determine exactly how much of it you like. You’ll need:

Dough

  • 6 eggs
  • 2 sticks of butter
  • Sugar (to taste)
  • Vanilla extract, to taste
  • Baking powder (1-2 tsp, give or take)
  • Flour (to texture, roughly 3 cups)
  • Optional: Vanilla sugar

Filling

  • Apples (sour varieties work best, like the green apple), about 6
  • Apple sauce (a medium container)
  • Bread crumbs, plain
  • Cinnamon
  • Sugar
  • Optional: Walnuts of other nut of choice

The Process

  1. Combine 6 egg yolks (save the whites for later), butter, sugar(s), a few teaspoons of vanilla extract, and baking powder in a mixer (or do it by hand).
  2. When roughly mixed, start adding flour, 1/2 a cup at a time, then 1/4 cup at a time. You want to get something that looks like brown sugar–slightly sticky but slightly crumbly. You want to get it to just before it starts to crumble apart on you.
  3. Make the dough into a big ball, cut it in half, and put one half in the freezer for the time being. Spread the other half in a glass baking dish so that it covers the bottom in a thin, flat layer, and goes up the sides about 1/4 to 1/2 inches. The bottom will feel really flat, probably less than 1/8 inch–don’t get worried.
  4. Spread the bread crumbs in an ultra-thin layer over the dough, one bread crumb thick.
  5. Spread the apple sauce over the bread crumbs, being careful not to lift the crumbs up with the sauce (empty the container evenly over the pie first, then use a spatula to spread).
  6. Peel and cut the apples into thin slices, and layer them to a desired thickness in the pie (I like about 1/2-3/4 inch).
  7. Top with cinnamon.
  8. Beat the egg whites you saved in a bowl, adding sugar about halfway to taste. Layer over the fruit, but don’t press into it.
  9. Take the semi-frozen dough and grate it (using the large holes) over the egg whites. It should form a nice layer over the entire pie. Add some nuts if you’d like on top of this.
  10. Bake at 375 to 400 for about 40 minutes, until the crust is a nice golden color (but not burnt), and tapping the top lightly with your finger makes a hollow sound.
  11. Cool thoroughly, then top with powdered sugar using a sieve.
  12. Enjoy! Avoid refrigeration for best taste. Covered, the pie will last at least 3-4 days on your counter.

The Healthy Version

You can make this pie 100% organic, and you can also substitute a good portion of the flour with whole-wheat flour, and most of the sugar for agave extract or liquid Stevia.