Sharlotka Apple Pie
Updated: Apr 26, 2019
Quick description of apple pie heaven - mellow baked apples, on rich, buttery crust, soaked in meringue-like foam. The taste of my childhood and proper addition to Sunday's tea time.
Sharlotka is the name given to apple pies coming from Central and Eastern Europe. In Russian version you will get apple pieces mixed in batter which creates more caky version - closer to apple cake than apple pie. In Poland, Sharlotka is the name given to apple pie which is filled in with lots of apples (similar to Dutch Apple Pie) with high, buttery and eggy crust. There are few differences in comparison to Dutch Pie: apples are cooked before baking, meringue-like foam is layered in-between apples and crust is rich in egg yolks.
The crust here is buttery, eggy, slightly sweet, similar to shortcrust but soft in the same time, combined using sour cream for extra flaky texture. The pie is filled with lots of apples which are steamed to form delicious jelly and soaked in in the light meringue for extra moisture. If you are lucky enough to find good tea rooms in Warsaw, Gdansk or Krakow this is the Sharlotka you are going to be served.
Sharlotka keeps fresh for up to 3 days making it a great make-ahead pie. If you store the pie in a cold place you can bake it a day before and preheat before serving. Sharlotka is usually served warm, sprinkled with confectioners' sugar, with vanilla ice-cream and whipped cream on the side.
Few hints in terms of preparation. Splitting the portion in half or tweaking ratios dilutes the flavour. We would recommend baking full portion. The number of eggs (6) may seem like a lot - but this is exactly where the flavour is coming from. Don’t compromise here and you won’t be disappointed. Before you start to bake read Hints. Main points here: get proper size of baking tin, don’t try to squeeze everything into small pan. In this bake it will not work - apples will overflow and your oven will look as if the bomb exploded :). Crust - give it time to rest and follow Hints. Apples - we wouldn’t recommend using baking apples here. This type of apples just don't mix that well with meringue and we find the flavour to be impacted. Use Gala, Golden Delicious or Russet for best result.
First, you will mix in flour with confectioners’ sugar, salt, baking powder. You will add diced butter and work it into the flour until crumbly texture is formed. Egg yolks and sour cream need to be mixed in and swiftly combined with the rest of ingredients to create the pie crust. You will divide the crust in two (2/3rd - to cover bottom and sides, and 1/3rd to cover the top) and refrigerate for 2- 4 hours.
Once you fill in the baking tin with the crust we would recommend to refrigerate it for 30 minutes to 1 hour. You will then bake it for few minutes and set aside to cool. In a meantime apples need to be cooked for some 15 minutes. As apples are mixed with meringue, pre-cooking before baking is a necessary step. Pre-cooked apples won’t release too much juice while baking, they won’t shrink and dry. In this way you won't end up with baked egg white layer stuck to the pie crust, soggy bottom and dried out apples.
Then you will be preparing meringue-like foam. Again - the foam gives fantastic moisture to apple filling. Once the crust is baked and cooled you will sprinkle it with 2-3 Tablespoons bread crumbs, place 2/3rd of the foam, cover it with apples and then you will top it all up with the remaining part of foam. You will then use remaining part of the dough to cover the top. Roll out the remaining crust disc and tear freely to form uneven patches - you don’t want to cover the top too tightly, leave some spaces uncovered to ensure the pie bakes through. If you cover too tightly the meringue instead of forming lovely moisture around apples will 'fall' to the bottom of the crust creating baked egg white layer.
Sharlotka Apple Pie Recipe
Yield: 16 servings
Time: 45 minutes prep + 2 hrs dough cooling + 1hr baking
Tin: 26cm round with removable base (or spring form) or 23cmx33cm deep cake baking tin
For the crust:
- 3 cups + 3 Tablespoons (480g) all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup (60g) confectioners’ sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 345g unsalted butter, cold and diced
- 6 egg yolks from large eggs (you will use egg whites for the foam)
- 2 Tablespoons (30g) sour cream
- 10 apples (Golden Delicious, Red Delicious, Gala or Russet)
- 2 Tablespoons potato (20g) or corn starch
- 1 cup (200g) sugar
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 2 Tablespoons clear lemon juice
- 6 egg whites (leftover), straight from the fridge
- pinch of salt
- 2 Tablespoons (20g) vanilla pudding powder (if you can't get it read Hints section below)
- 1/2 cup (100g) white granulated sugar
+ 2 Tablespoons bread crumbs for the crust base
1. Prepare the crust: Mix flour with confectioners' sugar and baking powder, add diced cold butter and work in with pastry cutter until the mixture is crumbly. If you don’t have a pastry cutter place coarse mixture between your hands and make same quick move you make when your hands are cold, then rub butter into the flour with your fingers, making flat pieces between your thumb and fingers (as if you were slowly snapping your fingers). Once the texture resembles coarse mixture (pea-sized butter pieces are OK) add egg yolks and sour cream and swiftly form the dough. Divide the dough into 2 flat discs (2/3rd and 1/3rd). Refrigerate for minimum 2 hours (and up to 2 days). When ready, lay baking tray with parchment paper, grease lightly tin edges all the way up and apply small amount of flour. Transfer the dough (1st bigger disc, 2/3rd) onto well-floured counter, roll the disc 0.5cm thin to fit into the bottom and sides of your tin. Roll the dough around your rolling pin and transfer into the baking tin. Use your fingertips to press and seal the sides and base together. If any holes form or there are spots you’re worried aren’t sealed well, fill it with a piece of dough. Leave 1/3rd of the dough in the fridge (you will use it to cover the pie later on). Place the tin with the unbaked crust for 30 minutes - 1 hour in the fridge. Once ready, preheat oven to 175C and bake the base for 7-8 minutes (you want pale and barely set base here). Set aside to cool.
2. Prepare apples: Peel, remove seeds and coarsely chop. In medium pot mix apples with potato (or corn) starch, 1 cup sugar, 2 teaspoons cinnamon and 2 Tablespoons clear lemon juice. Cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until jelly forms and apples are semi-cooked - some 15 minutes. Set aside to cool.
3. While apples are steaming prepare the foam: Beat egg whites with a pinch of salt, 2 Tablespoons vanilla pudding powder (if you can’t get it see Hints section) and sugar (add 1 Tablespoon at a time, and make sure sugar is well incorporated in-between additions). You want here firm and peaky meringue - not too dry.
4. Assemble the pie: Once the crust is cooled sprinkle it with 2 Tablespoons of bread crumbs. Place 2/3rd of the foam (from Step 3) on top. Then place all the apples (cooled) on top and cover with remaining part of the foam. Take out from the fridge the remaining 1/3rd of the dough, roll it 0.5cm thin and tear it into smaller pieces (you can also opt to grate it). Place the pieces freely on top of the foam, leaving spaces in-between.
5. Bake at 175C for 1 hour. Once baked switch off the oven and crack open the door, let the pie cool in the oven for 5-10 minutes. Then take out from the oven and cool for another 20 minutes, then run thin knife to loosen edges. Sharlotka Apple Pie can be served warm or cold.
1. Baking tin - you are baking with meringue-like foam which is going to ‘puff up’ during baking so if the form is too small apples will overflow.
2. Vanilla pudding powder - we would recommend to use the powdered pudding but if you can’t get it for this bake you can add 2 Tablespoons potato or corn starch, vanilla seeds from 2 whole vanilla beans and a pinch of salt. We are using pudding here for its flavour and emulsifying agents. Adding corn/potato starch will do the job too.
3. Crust - when forming the crust around the edges of the tin (especially round tin) make sure edges are 0.5cm thick (you can go 1cm above the rim). Edges usually slide too much when: the butter is melting too fast (crust not cooled enough and didn’t get enough rest) and pie is not hit with high enough temperature when baking.
The sides will slide slightly (1cm) but to avoid sides sliding too much few hints may help:
- refrigerate the form layered with unbaked crust for 30 minutes to 1 hour before baking,
- using fork poke few holes in the crust,
- insert cold crust to hot (preheated oven). You want the cold crust to be hit with the right temperature immediately. Otherwise the butter will start melting and edges will slide more.
4. Sugar - use confectioners’ sugar in the crust, don’t substitute.
Jazz things up:
1. Filling - you may opt to use pears mixed with apples, apples mixed with plums or apples mixed with rhubarb.
2. Spices - cinnamon (2 teaspoons), nutmeg (1/2 teaspoon), cloves (1/3 teaspoon) - are all good additions to the filling.
3. Crust - you may opt to replace 80g of butter with lard - for more crusty and flaky texture.