Things have been quite frantic around here, lately. Hence, my sporadic posting routine, for which I apologize. And on top of everything, the chilly weather hasn’t helped either. Fortunately, we’ve had some homey comfort food to keep us warm and cozy. But there is something new on the horizon. Over the past several weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to work with some very talented people from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on a new and exciting project: The Forks – the newspaper’s new food and drinks blog. The PG Plate food platform also contains a new recipe search and will eventually provide even more coverage and interaction with readers, bloggers, contributors, customers and many others. So, do check it out, let us know your feedback and be part of it!
Since the weather was so gloomy, I’ve spent a lot of time inside and baked plentifully. The abundance of apples at the markets overwhelmed me and made me overdo it with the amount and variety of apples that I brought home. But having apples lounging in every corner of the house gave me the perfect excuse to bake this apple pie … twice. And here we are now celebrating the launch of the new Forks blog with a seasonal apple pie … Romanian-style!
This pie is another one of my grandmother’s recipes that I grew up with, and frankly I didn’t know that apple pie could exist in any other shape or form except from the one I was accustomed to. We call this an apple pie although you may find it more suitable to call it an apple cake. It doesn’t really matter. What matters is that the flavors and textures are spectacular.
On the outside, you have a flaky crust with a gentle crisp on the outer edges and emanating a hint of sweetness; while on the inside, the cinnamon and sugar marriage slightly tames the tartness of the apples and gives them a dark amber tint. By the way, apples and cinnamon are made for each other! This pie is wonderful eaten warm on its own with the juicy apple filling still slightly releasing a hot cinnamon infused steam; and is stupendously good the next morning with a cup of tea or coffee!
Serves: 24+ squares
· 400 grams (2 ¾ cups) all-purpose flour
· 125 grams (1 cup) confectioners’ sugar
· 250 grams (2 sticks and 2 Tablespoons) butter, at room temperature, plus more to grease the pan
· ½ teaspoon baking powder
· 1 egg, at room temperature; separate the egg yolk and egg whites and keep close at hand
· 1/8 teaspoon salt
· 1-3 Tablespoons whole milk
· 1.5 kilograms (3.5 pounds) tart apples such as Granny Smith, washed, peeled and grated
· 3-4 Tablespoons granulated sugar
· 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
· 3 Tablespoons grits or bread crumbs
Preheat the oven to 375°F (180°C). Coat the bottom and sides of a 14 by 10-inch baking pan with butter. Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the flour and baking powder. Add the butter and, using clean hands, mix well until the butter absorbs the flour. In the middle of the mixture, add the egg yolk, salt, and confectioners’ sugar and mix well to combine. Add milk, one Tablespoon at a time (1-3 Tablespoons) and mix until the dough has a good consistency and can be gathered into a ball. Gather the dough into a ball, divide it in two pieces and allow the dough to rest in the fridge for 30-45 minutes.
In the meantime, wash, peel and grate the apples in a large bowl. Add the cinnamon and granulated sugar to taste. If you feel that the apples are still too sour, add more sugar. Mix well. Set aside.
Take one piece of the dough out of the fridge. Flour the working surface and knead the dough for a few minutes with some flour until the dough warms up a bit and becomes manageable. Roll out the dough and place it in the greased pan making sure it covers the entire surface of the pan.
Sprinkle the grits or bread crumbs over the dough. Gently squeeze the excess water from the apples and spread the apples in the pan.
Take the second piece of dough out of the fridge, knead it for a few minutes with some additional flour, and roll it out. Place the dough atop the apples in the pan.
Beat the egg whites. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the dough. Poke the dough here and there with a fork and bake the cake for 55-60 minutes, or until golden brown.