Physics, geometry and chemistry were not the only subjects taken seriously in Soviet times. In my public high school we were also required to take a class named Trudovoe Obuchenie (Trud), the name that I can only translate as Home Economics. For two hours each week the girls baked and sewed, while boys hammered and soldered. Sometimes I dreamed of switching places with the boys, especially on the days when we were sewing yet another boring apron for mother’s day, while boys were making wooden planters out in a woodshed. But I was very content with being where I was on the cooking rotation. Those were the days when boys whispered and giggled outside the girls’ classroom inhaling the delicate aromas drifting from 4 cooking ovens. Ok, I take back the “delicate” because we were known to burn things on a regular basis. In measured intervals boys worked up the courage to stick their heads in to inquire half-pleadingly, “you will be sharing with us, right?” Hmmm… if you stop pulling our braids, perhaps we will. For some reason that I didn’t understand back then (but do now) apple pie was the crown of each year’s baking curriculum. We baked our pies in groups of 3-4 and were graded on the results mercilessly. The grade of “5” (equivalent of English “A”) was reserved for a perfect pie, “4” (or “B”) was given to the ones with minor imperfections, “2” or “F” went to the pies that hungry boys out in the hallway refused to eat. Now that I’ve baked my share of difficult and easy desserts I understand why our teacher picked Apple Pie. It’s one of those things that almost impossible to mess up. You cut the apples and throw them in the pan, mix eggs, sugar and flour and dump it over apples. Bake.
I have improved the school recipe by making it gluten-free. My choice was a mix of hazelnut flour (which is just grounded hazelnuts) for protein and Namaste gluten-free baking flour. If you are used to very sweet, store-bought desserts you might find one cup of sugar insufficient, especially if you use tart apples like Granny Smith and Honey Crisp. You have an option of either increasing the amount of sugar or sprinkling powdered sugar on a baked pie before eating. Even if you end up adding more sugar, it is still going to be one of the healthiest desserts you can make. And another bonus, this dessert requires very little prep work, about 10 minutes.
I have heard of people who peel their apples, and I don’t understand it. Not only it adds unnecessary prep time, it removes valuable nutrients. Indeed, the skin packs most of the vitamins and fiber! I love apple pie with raisins but my kids won’t eat it then. If you are adding raisins, let them soak in hot water for 5-7 minutes (or you know what? We live only once, let’s be decadent and soak raisins in warmed up brandy or cognac…mmm…), squeeze raisins out after soaking by wrapping them in a towel and twisting it, now add them to sliced apples and mix well (or not so well, I won’t tell anybody).
1 cup coconut palm sugar (see note below *)
Juice of one lemon (about 1 Tbsp)
½ cup hazelnut meal/flour
½ cup Namaste gluten-free flour
½ tsp cinnamon
1 tsp arrowroot powder (divided)
Butter for pan
Powdered sugar (for decorating, optional)
9-inch Springform pan
* Note on sugar: you will get fluffier dessert with regular white sugar. I prefer using organic Coconut Palm sugar whenever I have it. It makes me feel a little bit better about giving my kids dessert.
1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Cut apples in half. Remove the core. Then cut in slices. Instead of slices you can cut apples in other shapes, but try to keep all the pieces about the same size, so you don’t end up with some apples uncooked and others overcooked.
3. Add cinnamon and lemon juice to apple slices and set aside.
4. Line a springform pan with parchment paper. Butter the sides and the parchment paper generously. I also like to add an optional step here of sprinkling about ½ teaspoon of arrowroot powder.
5. Beat eggs for 2 minutes in a food processor. Add sugar and beat for another two minutes. If you use regular sugar, the mixture should double in size.
6. In a medium bowl mix hazelnut flour, gluten free flour and ½ tsp arrowroot powder. Gently add it to egg-sugar mixture with a spoon just until combined.
7. Put a few apple slices on the bottom of a springform in an attractive shape. If you are planning to flip the pie when you take out of the pan, this side will be the the top of the pie. Or…. you can dump most of the apples into the pan and then arrange the top layer in a pattern of concentric circles. Then this will be your top side. (You might need to cover it for the last 10 minutes of baking with aluminum foil to avoid over-browning). Or … you just can dump all the apples in a pan without much care for how they fall. It’s still going to taste great.
8. Pour flour-egg mixture over apples. Use spatula to spread the butter so that it covers all exposed apples. And press on apples to eliminate empty spaces. You might shift apples with a fork, if you feel that some slices didn’t get enough soaking.
9. Bake for 40-50 minutes depending on how thick you cut the apples. Test with a toothpick to see if it comes out without clumps stuck to it. Cool the pie for a bit, then flip out onto a plate, peel off the parchment paper and dust with powdered sugar (if you wish). You might need to run a spatula around the edges to loosen the pie off the walls. If the presentation is not of the importance and you just want to start eating the pie right away, don’t even bother flipping it over. Just sprinkle some powdered sugar and eat away.
I like to eat my Sharlotka still warm, so that sprinkled powdered sugar on top slowly melts in front of my eyes.
If you like APPLES, check out my Apple Board on Pinterest. Follow Kid Minds’s board APPLE on Pinterest.
I might share this post at one of my regular linkups.