This recipe is so good that I’m posting it even though my pictures aren’t perfect. It’s like no other apple cake I’ve experienced. The emphasis is on the apples with just enough airy cake batter to envelope them and bring out their best features. The cake is light and soft with a crisp top, and the apples are soft and succulent. I LOVE the almond flavoring with the apples, it’s perfect.
4 Granny Smith apples ( I used Yellow Delicious this time) – peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp all purpose flour
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
pinch of salt
3 large eggs
1/2 tsp pure almond extract
confectioner’s sugar, for dusting
Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease the bottom and side of an 8-inch springform pan.
In a large bowl, toss the apples with the lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of the sugar and let stand for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk the flour with the cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the eggs with the almond extract and the remaining 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar at medium-high speed until thick and pale yellow and a ribbon forms when the beaters are lifted, 8 to 10 minutes. Gently fold in the dry ingredients just until incorporated.
Spread the apples in the prepared pan in an even layer, then pour the batter evenly over them. Let stand for 5 minutes to allow the batter to sink in a little.
Bake the sharlotka for about 1 hour, until it is golden and crisp on top and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer to a rack and let rest for 15 minutes. Unmold and transfer to a serving platter. Dust with confectioners’ sugar and serve warm.
Here’s a classic French recipe I’ve never made before. I’ve seen the upside down apple tart made on cooking shows many times but never bothered to try it at home. Yesterday I was watching my very favorite television show: The Great British Baking Show and Mary Berry made her Tarte Tatin in the master class series. She made it look so easy and gave several great tips for success. I love the simplicity of the ingredients. All you need is apples, crust, and a little sugar.
I got up off the couch and went to my best reference book for French classic recipes and techniques, Jacques Pepin’s Complete Techniques. I used his recipe for pate brisee (pie crust) and followed his instructions for parts of the recipe and Mary Berry’s tips for other parts. Tarte Tatin has been reinterpreted so many times it’s impossible to say what the ‘real’ or ‘original’ or even ‘the best’ technique might be. Here’s what I did:
6 cups apples – sliced thin – This could be anywhere from 6-8 apples.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Get out your pie dish so it’s in arms reach.
Place the sugar and water in a saucepan over medium heat. Do not use a non-stick pan when making caramel. Bring to a boil and keep boiling until it turns a golden caramel color. Pour the caramel into the pie dish and immediately swirl by tilting the pan to cover the entire bottom of the dish. I struggled with this step because my caramel hardened too quickly in my cold pyrex dish. Oh well, I pressed on.
Set the pie dish aside and allow the caramel to cool completely. Meanwhile, slice the apples evenly and thinly. Choose one or two good looking apples to use for the bottom of the pie. Place the first layer of apples on the cooled caramel in a nice design. Remember, this will be inverted and the bottom will become the top; you want it to look pretty. Fill the rest of the dish with the remaining apples. It’s okay if the apples come above the top of the dish a bit because they will shrink as they cook. Place the rolled out pastry or pie crust over the apples. Tuck in the edges all around the dish. Cut a small vent hole in the center of the pie. Place in the hot oven for 45 minutes to an hour. The crust should be golden brown. When you take the dish out of the oven, let it cool for about 5 minutes. To ensure a caramel top that’s not too runny, carefully hold a dish towel over the crust while you pour the juices into your caramel saucepan from earlier. Next, invert the tarte onto a plate. Now, add 2 Tablespoons of sugar and heat to a quick boil. Pour this caramel sauce over the finished Tarte Tatin and serve just warm. The finished tart was intensely apple flavored and super delicious. The caramel is subtle and emphasizes the taste of the apples. The crust was crisp and buttery. Total success.