Monday, March 10, 2008

TWD - Russian Grandmother's Apple Pie-Cake

Once again, I participated in the weekly Tuesday's with Dorie baking group challenge. This week, Natalie from Burned Bits chose our assignment, a simply sweet, not-quite-pie, not-quite-cake filled with apple-y goodness.

I have to say that I was especially excited about this one as the hubs grandparents were from Russia. I never met his Grandpa. But, Grandma Marina was one of the sweetest ladies I've ever met. She told hubs years ago that she was praying for him to find a nice wife and I was happy for her to know we were engaged before she passed away a little over a year ago, just a couple weeks shy of turning 90. I'm sure she was watching our wedding from the best seat in the house! xoxo!

I took this weeks scrumptious treat to a Girls' Day Out and all my lady friends told me how tasty it was. They are too kind, especially since I didn't do so well with my first attempt at the 'apple peeler/corer/slicer' and there were a few, um, hard parts mixed in the cinnamonny sweetness. I suppose I had to add a little something extra as I omitted the raisins. I'm a fan of them in salad or even alone but baked and mushy, they do not rock my socks. So, Ms. Sunmaid is still chillin' in my pantry. (Haha! I say pantry as if were anything more than two tiny shelves in my cupboard.)

The dough, oh the dough, it made just the tastiest crust. I wasn't surprised to read that Dorie suggests using it to make cookies. Just sweet enough and the perfect consistancy. It really was a Pie-Cake. Crazy!

The pie-cake that wasn't devoured at the get together was gobbled up by the hubs or myself with in 24 hours. I think we liked it! He gave it a solid A. Very nice. :)
Try this one. It's a keeper.

Anyway, on to the recipe and photos. All recipe variations are noted in bold.

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) (I used all Fugi)
Squirt of fresh lemon juice
1 cup moist, plump raisins (dark or golden)
1/4 cup sugar (I used a bit more)
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon (I used a bit more)

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 sheet lined 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 evenly 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.

A little lumpy, but super yummy!


Anonymous said...

Grandma Marina would have been proud! Grade-- A

Rachel said...

ANONYMOUS - Best comment ever!

noskos said...

Nice looking pie-cake!!!

Anonymous said...

Looks wonderful! I'm glad everyone enjoyed it :)

Anonymous said...

Looks great! I love all of your "stages" pictures. Looking at all these TWD recipes are making me hungry!

Madam Chow said...

We thought it was a keeper, too! And don't worry about the lumps - I think the type of dough (very flexible) makes it conform to the filling and look lumpy. The crust was amazing.

Nikki57 said...

My pie-cake has a twin ... yippee

Anonymous said...

It's so cute! It surprised me how many people didn't use raisins, including me. I love all of your pics, they're really helpfull and even your filling before making is pretty!

Annemarie said...

It looks fabulous!!

Mevrouw Cupcake said...

Wow, an old skool apple core, that's so cool!

Your pie-cake looks yummy!

Marie said...

MIne looked really lumpy like that too, but wow what a delicious dessert! Yours looks great! Love the apple parer/corer thing! We served ours with some vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of maple syrup. It was gorgeous!

Natalie said...

those look awesome! The apple-corer-peeler looks scary though! Can I just do it by hand?

ostwestwind said...

This looks so good, I like the stage pictures.

Ulrike from K├╝chenlatein

Anonymous said...

Great job!! Mine turned out a little lumpy too but it sure was great! :)

slush said...

I love your old school apple peeler! Way cool. Great photos too, fab job!

CB said...

I got a little teary about Grandma Marina and watching your wedding. sniff I am such a sap. Lurve the old fashion apple corer. Next time I come over I wanna see it in action!

Erin said...

Looks great! I love how you posted about the stages of making it.

Katrina said...

I have the same pampered chef peeler/slicer/corer, and it sits in its box in my cabinet. It gives me 'issues' too.
The last time I took it out, I set it up for a non-cooking friend to use while helping me prep some food. I think it unintentially glorified my cooking abilities to her since she couldn't get it to work either, and figured I must have some special 'cooking-fu' that allows me to use it.

Ahh well

Anyhow, it looks great! I'm glad everyone enjoyed it!

Judy said...

It looks beautiful -- just the way it's supposed to look. Glad everyone liked it.

Heather said...

Mine was a little lumpy too! Oh well, they are still delicious!

Jhianna said...

I forgot that Dorie suggested using that dough as a cookie. Oh, that'd be tasty!

I rely on my husband to use my corer/slicer/peeler (mine looks just like yours) - if I do it, then things go flying.

Melissa said...

Looks great!

Jaime said...

how cool! i want an apple peeler/corer/slicer gadget like that!

Gretchen Noelle said...

How fun to have a corer,peeler/slicer for this recipe! Delicious looking pie-cake!!

Tammy said...

wasnt this delicious!! Your pie-cake looks fab!

Sweet and Savory Eats said...

I think the "lumps" give it character. It looks very rustic and casually elegant. Great job.