“Rosh Hashanah is at our throats again.”
Saul Bellow said that.
So then something for the season. Something that we bake for ourselves at home and don’t share with the customers. Something that we were raised to think of as a breakfast food. Something our mother told us was apple pie.
To be clear, this is not apple pie. That was a lie. We’ve found similar (though never its equal) in Russian cake shops, Polish Cukiernias, and Austrian coffee houses. As European as Mom’s apple pie?
The idea is a light, gently sweet batter that gets poured over a pie pan full of thickly chopped apples. Result being a kind of apple cake that is more apple than cake. Divine.
For ours, we picked our apples somewhere in deep dark Brandenburg. Have we mentioned we’re from New England? Yes? Of course we have. We’re from New England. This gives us a kind of inborn authority to say definitively that this apple orchard lacked more than a certain je ne sais quoi. Je sais quoi. Still, what it came up short on in cider doughnuts and autumnal cheer it more than made up for in sour-faced Chesterfield-smoking German apple guards. Ok, here’s the recipe:
About 12 scrawny Brandenburg apples, peeled and dewormed or about 3 bloated American Cortlands cut into medium-sized chunks. Enough to fill a pie dish.
2 cups sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp softened butter or shortening
2 cups flour
1 tbsp vanilla
Preheat your oven to 200C. Grease and flour a pie pan or a springform pan. Fill with your apple chunks. In a mixing bowl, mix on high until fluffy butter/shortening and sugar. When fully incorporated, add eggs, one at a time, mixing on high. Add vanilla and salt and beat on high for a full 2 minutes. Finally, add the sugar and mix until smooth. Pour over apple chunks and smooth over top with a spatula. Give it a few minutes to settle down in between all the apple chunks. Once settled, sprinkle the top with cinnamon sugar and set in your over. Bake on the high temperature for 10 minutes. This will form a crispy, caramelized top crust. After 10 minutes, turn down the temperature to 175 and continue to bake for 35 minutes. Remove and let cool before cutting and serving.