My grandma passed away this Wednesday. It was peaceful, I was told, and I am grateful for that. I haven’t seen her for almost a year and this makes it harder to process. Being far away from home makes pretending that “nothing had happen” so easy. I just spoke with her few days ago, how is it possible she is gone? How is it possible she won’t meet her great-grandson? I know she would love him, she would sing to him while bouncing on her knees. This little ducky song of hers… This is how we spent together many afternoons when I was a child – swinging in a hammock, me on her knees and this silly ducky song.
I was lucky enough to spend a lot of time with her as a child. We lived (my parents and I) with my grandparents until I was nine or so, and when my mom and dad were at work my grandpa and grandma were taking care of me. So we visited horses and ponies in a nearby pasture, where I patted them and talk to them and didn’t want to to leave. We visited neighbor’s cows when we were picking up fresh milk. I remember that this farmer had a flock of geese and one day entire flock chased me through the backyard.. I was so scared and till this day geese are not favorites of mine! We also fed chickens, collected eggs. And I loved giving them single, carefully picked out straws of grass – this was my way of making their “diet special”. Ech.. how crazy I was 😉 We also had a little orchard (fruit trees were my grandpa love). Sweet cherries were by far my favorites and I spent a lot of time eating them out of the tree.
My grandma was a great cook. Some of her recipes are here, some will be, some I won’t be able to recreate. The one I am posting today is the most precious one for me. This szarlotka, kind of a crumble apple cake, is the one I grew up with, the one I was always begging for, the first one I learned how to bake. I’ve always thought that I won’t share this recipe with anyone and keep all this goodness to myself, but now I think it is a good moment to change my mind. In memory of my grandma.
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup sugar + 3 tablespoons
- 2 eggs
- 11 tablespoons butter
- 1.5 teaspoons baking powder
- 3-4.5 lbs apples (granny smith apples work the best, but other varieties will work too)
- Prepare 9 x 13 inches baking pan – lined it with parchment paper or butter it.*
- Melt butter, set aside.
- In a big bowl mix flour, baking powder, sugar (1 cup) and eggs.**
- Transfer to a pastry board and start kneading.
- Add butter gradually, and knead until the dough becomes smooth.
- Divide the dough into 1/3 and 2/3, place the smaller piece in the freezer. Note the time (It should stay in the freezer for 1/2 hr or more).
- Roll out the bigger piece so it fits the baking pan OR, and this is easier, form the dough into a ball, flatten it a little, place in the middle of the baking pan and keep flattening making its way towards each edge of the baking pan, until the entire bottom of the pan is covered.
- Cover with a clean kitchen towel and set aside.
- Peel the apples.
- Shred them on a big hole side of the box shredder.***
- Add 1 tablespoon of sugar and mix well.
- Preheat the oven to 355°F.
- Spread the apples over the dough in the baking pan. In case there is a lot of accumulated juice, strain apples a little, but 1-3 tablespoons of juice is fine, just mix the apples before spreading.
- Take out the other piece of the dough from the freezer.
- If it harden enough, grate it on a big holes side of the box shredder and sprinkle over the apples.
- Sprinkle the remaining sugar over the shredded dough.
- Bake 50 min. to 1 hr, until golden brown. And until inserted toothpick comes out clean.
*You may also use springform pan, the cake will be taller and baking time will then be closer to 1 hr.
**Steps 3 through 5 can be done in a food processor. Just check the consistency after every few pulses to not over-process it. Also if using food processor you can use butter at a room temperature instead melted.
***Same as above, if you wish you can shred them in a food processor.
Yield: ~20 pieces (as pictured)
Nutritional Info (per piece): Cal 225, Prot 3g, Carb 39g, Fat 7g, Fiber 1.8g