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 Трудовое Обучение or Труд (Trudovoe Obuchenie, or 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.
However, I was very content with being where I was when it was cooking semester because we got to eat all we cooked. Those were the days when boys whispered and giggled outside the girls’ classroom inhaling the delicate aromas drifting from the four cooking ovens. Ok, I take back the “delicate aroma” 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?” We were always hungry.
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 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 a healthy treat.
And another bonus, this dessert requires very little prep work, about 10 minutes.
I consider peeling apples an unnecessary step. Not only it saves time, but indeed, the skin packs most of the vitamins and fiber!
I love apple pie with raisins. I eat this 2lb bag every month. But my kids don’t like raisins in their apple pie. 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 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 into slices. Instead of slices, you can cut apples into 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 bottom of the 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 or with fork in a bowl. 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 the 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 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 a 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 stick out too much.
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.
Disclaimer: this post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you make a purchase through my links, I will get a small commission at no cost to you. Thank you for your help in keeping this blog going.
If you like APPLES, check out my Apple Board on Pinterest.