Sunday, January 8, 2012

Deb's Apple Sharlotka



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!

9 comments:

  1. Yum! I hate when you see something so delicious on a blog, but when you try it, it comes out nothing like the photo you saw. Your cake looks so much like Deb's! I came from Smitten Kitchen to your blog, and loved it before I even read a single post... the "Crazy About Bread" part was something I could really relate to!

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  2. I had to pin this recipe right away...

    gorgeous looking cake, I could eat a slice (maybe two) right now!

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  3. Thank you, Brandon, and welcome to Farine! Lovely to meet you... :-)
    Hello, Sally! Come right over, I'll keep it warm for you!

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  4. If we lived JUST a tad closer.... ;-)

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  5. MC,

    Thank you for the posting and I have a good friend from Russia that I will be visiting next year and we used to bake this particular "cake" together a lots. Just a good memory...Thank you for the recipe and I think her recipe look almost the same if my memory serve me right(I need to dig into my notes)

    Thanks,
    Kim

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  6. Hello Kim! Thanks for stopping by. So glad to hear the sharlotka brought back good memories. I love it when food does that. You have so many friends all around the world and so many of them like to bake that you must a very big recipe folder. What a treasure trove of tasty memories it must be!

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  7. In Poland we also make Sharlotkas. But not many Poles remember that "Szarlotka" comes from Russia. We just use the name as a synonym for any apple cake, tart or pie.

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  8. In France, we make "charlottes". I just checked the history of the word in the dictionary and it seems it was first used in English in the late 18th century and that at the beginning, at least in France, it designated a bread pudding containing apple marmalade. From there it was extrapolated to all puddings made with bread or biscuits and any kind of fruit and now of course chocolate, etc. Interesting to hear that in Polish it still retains its original meaning of apple pudding...Thank you for pointing it out, Anja! I love to try and retrace the history of words.

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