Finally I made one of the most popular Polish desserts of all times! Szarlotka originates from France (called Charlotte) and consists of shortcrust, fruit puree and sometimes custard or meringue. In Poland szarlotka always has an apple cinnamon filling and optionally meringue added on top. I personally think this is one of the greatest desserts ever. It has a very delicate consistency, with just the right amount of sweetness. It is so perfect in the fall when apples are at their best- crisp and juicy. Such an amazing comfort food!
I have searched my mom’s notes, internet and cooking book for a perfect recipe. I made it a few times before, improving little things here and there and, at the risk of sounding braggy, I can say that this recipe is the best there is. With the shortcrust pastry (ciasto kruche) it is crucial not to overwork it and cool it in the fridge before baking but one thing at a time. As usually, I took pictures every step of the way and explained the method in detail. Szarlotka isn’t extremely hard to make but it does take a little bit of time. However, I can promise you that it is so worth it!
I started with separating 5 eggs into egg yolks and egg whites. I transferred egg whites to a box and placed it in a fridge. We are going to use egg yolks for the crust and egg whites for meringue. The meringue on top is optional, my mom always does it and I did the same. I think it is a very tasty little addition.
I sifted flour, baking powder and powdered sugar into a big bowl.
I grated butter and added to the flour mix. If you don’t want to do that you can just chop it finely. We don’t want it melted. Finally, I added egg yolks, sour cream and vanilla extract and kneaded the dough.
It is very important not to overwork the dough. It may feel at first like there is not enough moisture and the dough was a little bit of a wet sand texture but it should come together nicely in the end. The second the dough came together, I formed it into a ball, wrapped in plastic foil and placed in a fridge for 2 hours.
In the meantime, I peeled the apples, removed the seeds and cut them in thin half slices.I transferred them to a cooking pot and added a 1/4 cup of water, cinnamon, sugar and corn starch. I brought it to boil and simmered for about 10 minutes, stirring often. Then I let it cool down.
As for the type of apples, I like tart, more crisp and hard apples like Granny Smith because I think that they compliment the sweeter crust and meringue nicely, however, any type will do really. Do you know how I know that? Because in the store instead of buying Granny Smith, I got Golden Delicious which looks similar but is so much sweeter, and it still worked out great. My tip is, if the apples you’re using are sweet, add 3 tablespoons of lemon juice to balance it out.
I used my grater to again for the dough. I grated about 2/3 of it and I wrapped the rest back in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge.
I smeared butter inside of a 9×13 inches baking pan.
Then I placed the grated dough in the pan and pressed it down with my fingers.
Next step was baking the crust in the oven at 350 F for 10 minutes. It doesn’t have to be cooked all the way, we just want to make sure that it’s not going to be raw when we assemble and bake the pie. Then, a cool trick I learned is sprinkling a bit of breadcrumbs on the crust so it can absorb the excessive moisture from the apples.
Next layer is apple mixture. It doesn’t have to be cooled all the way but it shouldn’t be piping hot either because the meringue on top will melt. I took out egg whites and whipped them with a hand mixer until stiff. Then I gradually added cream of tartar and powdered sugar. I scooped the meringue on the apples.
Last layer of the pie is grated leftover dough.
I baked the pie at 350 F for 30 minutes until it turned a nice golden color.
Finally, I sprinkled some powdered sugar on top and voila!
You might want to let your pie cool down a little bit before cutting- it will hold together better.
Szarlotka is served both cold and warm, sometimes with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for ultimate comfort food 🙂
If you tried this recipe and posted a pic or comment use hashtag #EasternEuropeanRecipes I’d love to see how it turned out!
- 4 cups of flour
- 2 1/2 cup of butter
- 3/4 cup of powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon of baking powder
- 5 big egg yolks
- 2 tablespoons of sour cream
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- Apple filling:
- 8 big apples (sour kind like Granny Smith or sweet like Honey Crisp + 3 tablespoons of lemon juice)
- 2 tablespoons of corn starch
- 1/2 cup of sugar
- 2 tablespoons of cinammon
- 5 egg whites
- 3/4 cup of powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon of cream of tartare
- 1/4 cup of breadcrumbs
- powdered sugar
- Separate egg yolks and egg whites. Sift flour, powdered sugar and baking powder into a big bowl. Grate the butter and add to the mix. Add sour cream, egg yolks and vanilla extract. Knead the dough until smooth. It is important to do it fast and stop working on it, the second all of the ingredients are combined. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and cool in the fridge for 2 hours.
- Peel and cut apples in half slices. Place in a cooking pot, add 1/4 cup of water, cinnamon, sugar and corn starch. Bring to boil and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring often. Let cool down.
- Whip egg whites into stiff foam with hand mixer. Gradually add powdered sugar and cream of tartar.
- Grate 2/3 of the dough and place in a greased pan and press down. I baked it at 350 F for 10 minutes. Then I sprinkled some breadcrumbs on top.
- Spread apple mixture evenly on the crust and place the meringue on top of that. Grate the rest of the dough and sprinkle on top.
- Bake szarlotka at 350 F for 30 minutes until golden brown.
- Let cool down a bit, sprinkle some powdered sugar, cut and enjoy cold or warm with vanilla ice cream.