The very first thing I read about this holiday was that Russian’s celebrated the apple harvest by having their apples blessed at church, then eating apple cake. So the very first thing I did was Google “Russian Apple Cake”. This is the first recipe that popped up. It is from Smitten Kitchen, which is a blog that I love, and I discovered from her post that she is married to a Russian, and this is her mother-in-law’s recipe. So I was completely satisfied with both the deliciousness potential and authenticity of this recipe. It became the backbone of my menu plan.
As I continued to research this holiday and look for other recipes to fill out the meal, I would peruse whatever Russian food site I was reading to see if they had an alternate recipe for Apple Sharlotka, to see if there were variations that sounded more interesting, or different methods that I might want to try. (Being a rather dense and imprecise cook, I often like to have more than one perspective on how something is made in order to really understand any instructions.) Every single recipe for Apple Sharlotka, or Russian Apple Cake I found led back to the Smitten Kitchen Recipe. I’m not claiming to have done a full culinary historical background check on this cake, but at least in the modern-internet world, this seems to be the definitive recipe.
Butter or nonstick spray, for greasing pan
6 large, tart apples, such as Granny Smiths
3 large eggs
1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (125 grams) all-purpose flour
Ground cinnamon, to finish
Powdered sugar, also to finish
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper. Butter the paper and the sides of the pan. ( I do not have a springform pan. I’m not sure if it made a big difference, but the first time I made this it completely fell apart when I flipped it out of the pan. The second time it stayed together, but the main difference is my sister actually made it the second time…make of that what you will.)
Peel, halve and core your apples, then chop them into medium-sized chunks. Pile the cut apples directly in the prepared pan. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, using an electric mixer or whisk, beat eggs with sugar until thick and ribbons form on the surface of the beaten eggs. Beat in vanilla, then stir in flour with a spoon until just combined. The batter will be very thick.
Pour over apples in pan, using a spoon or spatula to spread the batter so that it covers all exposed apples. (Updated to clarify: Spread the batter and press it down into the apple pile. The top of the batter should end up level with the top of the apples.) Bake in preheated oven for 55 to 60 minutes, or until a tester comes out free of batter. Cool in pan for 10 minutes on rack, then flip out onto another rack, peel off the parchment paper, and flip it back onto a serving platter. Dust lightly with ground cinnamon.
Serve warm or cooled, dusted with powdered sugar.
While this is a nice dessert, it’s more like a coffee cake in some ways. I think it is best as a morning pastry, or afternoon snack with tea.