Friday, October 5, 2012

Polish Apple Pie--the Easy Version

It has been a third fall since I started writing this blog and the same third season for apples. And I do not know how it happened that so far I have not posted a recipe for a traditional Polish apple pie (or cake), which is probably the most popular Polish cake. It used to be served as soon as the first ripe apples appeared late in the summer and until the last winter apples were pulled out of the cellar in early spring.
If you ask me, the best apple pie I had was that made by my grandmother. Her shortcrust pastry could win a Nobel Prize in that category (if there were such a category, of course). I still use it to make many different cakes and mostly to make these wonderful small pastries that are on the title photo of my blog. But I believe that her apple cake was exceptional also because there was an endless variety of apples in Poland suitable for all kinds of apple cakes.
Apple cakes were the type of cakes most often baked in my home. It was easy, as in our yard there were growing at least three different kinds of apple trees and all of their fruits were suitable for cooking and preserving. They were juicy or mushy, sweet or sour, hard or soft, but always aromatic and perfect for the fall and winter desserts.
The recipe that I share today is an easy variation of the one my grandma made because it does not require rolling the dough. Instead you grate it on a grater.
We have never used cinnamon in my home for that recipe but since it goes with apples very well, you may add some according to your taste. Apple pie, as always, is great fresh and warm, just slightly cooled down, but this is also great the next day because it tastes very nice when it gets softer.

Polish Apple Pie
(For a 9-inch tin with high walls)
3 cooking apples, preferably sour, but McIntosh or Golden Delicious can be also used,
1 cup sugar, plus 1 extra tbsp,
2 cups all purpose unbleached flour,
2 sticks of unsalted butter, room temperature,
2 tsp baking powder,
4 medium eggs, separated, a pinch of salt,
1 tsp cinnamon (optional).
1. To make a dough place flour and baking powder in a large bowl. Mix it well with a spatula.
2. Add to the bowl butter cut into small cubes and working with hands make large crumbles.
3. In a small bowl mix egg yolks and one tbsp of sugar until it becomes pale. Add yolk mixture to the butter-flour bowl and working with hands, as fast as possible, make a smooth dough.
4. Wrap the dough in a plastic foil and freeze for at least one hour, until it becomes hard.
5. Just before baking preheat oven to 375F.
6. Peel off all the apples and grate them on a grater with large holes.

7. Use 1 tbsp of butter to grease the bottom of the 9-inch large baking tin with high removable walls. 8. Take the dough from the freezer and using the large hole grater, grate half of it directly on the bottom of the tin.
9. Beat whites until almost stiff. Add one third of the sugar and beat until it dissolves and whites become shiny. Do that the same with the second and the third part of the sugar.
10. Mix grated apples with whipped whites, add cinnamon if you like it, and spread evenly on the grated pastry.
11. Grate the second part of the dough on top.

12. Place the pie in the oven. Bake for about 60 minutes until the top of the pie becomes gold. Cool down, cut in triangles, and serve.