Updated: May 16, 2020
Delicious, juicy and lightly spiced apples wrapped in shortbread crust. All topped up with crisp on the outside, light and fluffy inside, meringue. Addition of nuts (almonds or desiccated coconuts) add earthy/warm flavour and crunch.
I love these type of bakes! It’s easy, full of flavour comfort food.
In Central and Eastern Europe word sharlotka is used to describe apple pie or apple cake. My mum used to bake a version of this sharlotka all year round with different types of fruit. Our usual mix would involve fruit like: apples, gooseberries (one of my favourite versions), redcurrants (seeds removed), blackcurrants, blackberries. Rhubarb is a great choice too (here you would need to add 1 pack of strawberry or cherry jelly - one that requires 500ml water; don’t dilute - just add jelly crystals to rhubarb when steaming or cooking). Then, when seasonal fruit was not available (Dec-March) - she would bake it with homemade preserves. All in all - one little bake which gives a lot of possibilities and options.
For a good bake:
Apples - Russet are best apples for this bake! Sharp, sweet, full of flavour. If you can’t get Russet - try Gala or Granny Smith. Apples in this recipe are grated on a large scale, then fried on sizzling butter with addition of tiny amount of sugar, cornflour and lemon juice. Tiny amount of cornflour is used here to gel apples. Lemon juice is used here to offset cornflour flavour. The filling is cooked for 10-12 minutes until mellow and semi-soft. To add lovely edge to your home-baked sharlotka - add ground cardamom and cinnamon. Mix of both spices brings out sweet and earthy flavour from apples. At the end, small portion of meringue is mixed with apples (for juicy filling!).
Crust - shortbread crust is used here. In this recipe the base is blind baked. The rest of the dough is used to form walls around the pie and is baked together with the rest of the pie. If you are using pie weights - you may opt to blind bake the whole shell at once. This crust is firm (de-lux version ;). For quick, everyday bake - you may opt to use scraps from our sour cream scone recipe. This is a good option - especially if you want to bake it in a large tray (you will get softer base). You may opt to shape walls perfectly even OR uneven - and have meringue filling the spaces in-between.
Tin - bake in round tin (18 or 21cm) or as a tray bake (22cmx33cm, increase meringue ratios by 50%, leave other proportions as in the recipe).
Meringue - you want to achieve meringue which has crunchy top layer and soft middle. To allow for nice air circulation when baking - place meringue using tablespoon (it will look like few separate mini-meringues; don’t flatten - this way you will get swirl-y shape, and the air will have a chance to circulate). 20 minutes into baking you may opt to place large tray on top shelf of the oven - to prevent meringue from browning.
Apple Sharlotka with Meringue Recipe
Yield: 12 servings
Time: 45 min prep + 45-50min baking
Tin: 18cm or 21cm round tin or 22cmx33cm form
300g all-purpose flour
50g icing/confectioners’ sugar
1/5 tsp salt
200g unsalted butter, cold or frozen
1 egg yolk
30g salted or unsalted butter
3 Tbsps (45g) caster sugar
2 Tbsps (20g) cornflour or potato starch
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cardamom
2 tsps (10ml) clear lemon juice
4 egg whites (140g) from large eggs
180g caster sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp cardamom (up to 1/5 tsp if you are a fan)
1 tsp (4g) cornflour
1 tsp (5ml) clear lemon juice
20g almond flakes or desiccated coconut + 20g to decorate the top
Prepare apples: Wash, peel and core apples. Grate on large grater scale (see pictures). Remove excess juice (don’t skip that step). In a large pot melt butter (bring to sizzle), place grated apples, sugar, cornflour, cinnamon, cardamom and clear lemon juice. Fry apples on medium-high heat, stirring every so often. Cook for 10-12 minutes. Apples should be fairly soft and mellow. Set aside to cool fully.
Prepare crust: Mix flour with icing sugar and salt. Grate cold butter into the mix and working with palms of your hands and finger tips incorporate butter into flour until crumbly texture forms. Add egg yolk and with few swift moves bring the dough together (don’t add water; 30 sec job). Refrigerate the dough for 30 min. When ready, take out from the fridge (let sit on the counter for 5min). Preheat oven to 180C (160C fan forced). In a meantime, brush bottom of the tin with butter, line with parchment paper. Divide dough into 1/3rd (for the bottom) and 2/3rd (for walls/sides of the tin). Roll out 1/3rd of the dough to fit bottom of the tin. If you are using pie weights, you may opt to roll out the rest of the dough to fit walls of the tin. I always blind bake bottom (and walls are baked together with the rest of the pie). Blind bake the base for 15 minutes at 180C (160C fan forced). Cool fully. When cooled - roll out the rest of the dough and line sides of your tin to form shell. Place in the fridge for 15 minutes. When the crust is cooling preheat the oven to 170C (150C fan forced).
Prepare meringue: Beat egg whites until fluffy (1 minute), then start adding sugar - 1 Tablespoon at a time (whisk attachment, beating on medium - high speed, it will take 3-4 minutes). When sugar is incorporated, add cardamom (if using), cornflour, lemon juice and a pinch of salt. At the end of mixing add almond flakes (or desiccated coconut) and mix for few seconds.
Assemble Sharlotka: Take the crust out of the fridge, add 1-2 Tbsps of meringue to apples (judge how juicy your apples are - if seem dry - add 2 Tbsps) and gently mix in. Fill crust with apples, top up apples with meringue (make few swirls on top, freely placing meringue with a tablespoon will give you same effect as on pictures). Sprinkle the top with coconuts or flaked almonds.
Bake at 170C (150C fan forced) for 45-50 minutes on lower-mid rack. 20 minutes into baking you may opt to put large tray on top shelf of your oven to prevent meringue from browning too much. Cool Sharlotka fully (2-3 hours) before serving.
This is another spin on same thing as above, served in a cup:
30g salted or unsalted butter
60g caster sugar (to taste)
1 Tbsp cornflour
2 tsps lemon juice
Wash rhubarb and chop into 1cm pieces. Melt butter (bring to sizzle) and add chopped rhubarb, sugar, cornflour and lemon juice. Cook on medium-high heat for 12-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Rhubarb should become mellow and have marmalade-like consistency with some chunky pieces intact. When done, set aside to cool. You can skip cornflour if you don’t want rhubarb to thicken/gel during cooking.
Prepare shortbread as in the recipe above (+ add 1/2 tsp coarse sea salt). Shape into cookies and bake for 15-17 minutes at 170C (150C fan). You can bake meringue at the same time (prep as in the recipe above). Line large tray with parchment paper and place tablespoons of meringue one next to another (don’t flatten), sprinkle with nuts and bake for 35-40min at 170C (150C fan forced). 20 minutes into baking you may opt to place large tray on top shelf to prevent meringue from browning too much. Allow to cool and assemble the dessert.