I was mournfully contemplating a bowful of apples and pears dating back to the waning days of the old year and trying to guesstimate whether or not they were in good enough shape to survive another day without my doing something awfully boring to them when the thought occurred to me that I might as well multitask while I was thinking. So I let my fingers walk to the nearest keyboard and wander to the Web and lo and behold, they took me almost directly to Smitten Kitchen where the most appealing cake was frantically beckoning.
It looked much too gorgeous to be anything but unhealthful and there was no way I was going to let myself be tempted, not when the new year was just one week old but as I continued scrolling desultorily, I saw apples appear, so green they couldn't possibly be sinful and these apples got peeled and sliced and chopped and I read the list of ingredients and I got hit as if by lightning by the absence of the word "butter" (which I try to avoid in my baking) and I knew this cake had come to me for a reason.
Thank you, Deb! I love you, your blog and your Russian mother-in-law. I imagine my own late MIL, who was born in Russia in 1911 and didn't leave the country until 1917, ate her fair share of sharlotka in her early childhood but I don't recall her mentioning it.
My version is less Russian than Deb's: I used only 150 g of sugar and replaced half of the all-purpose flour with Fairhaven Mills' white whole wheat flour. I also used half pears and half apples. Everything else stayed the same. It is a festive and beautiful cake and I am delighted to have this recipe. I intend to play with it a bit and since I am always on the lookout for more uses for leftover levain, maybe next time, I'll skip the flour and replace one or two of the eggs by ripe starter. Why not?
For tonight though we'll savor it as it is, still warm, the slight acidity of the apples and pears marvelously showcased by the sweet vanilla-scented dough. My mind will travel to faraway Russia and cozy datchas tucked away in birchtree groves and I'll be happy, knowing for a fact that procrastination is the way to go!