russian apple cake & recipe deal breakers

Recipe deal breakers. You know the ones. Those recipes that you get half way through pleasantly reading, before coming across a foreign ingredient or an overly complicated step and promptly turning the page.

I’ve been pondering this recently. Why there are some recipes in even my favorite cookbooks that I haven’t even bothered to finish reading (which, I tell you is very unusual)? Sometimes it’s an ingredient I don’t fancy. Take anchovies. I‘m not one to buy fish in a can on good days, let alone grey salted ones with eyes. Sometimes I can just use olives in place, but most often its a deal breaker. Other times (oh this is so common!)  the words “make the night before” or “leave in refrigerator overnight” appear part way through the recipe. I mean. Really. This could have been highlighted at the top of the page. In bold.

After this pondering I fell upon Smitten Kitchen’s post about exactly this. She refers to this pretty amusing article about those turn-the-page recipes and the most common reasons for breaking the deal.

And then, of course there are those recipes that jump to the top of the must-make list. Those ones with staple ingredients, which are permanently shelved in your perfectly labelled tupperware containers. Smitten’s latest post was one of those.

Although it had a pretty strange name (Sharlotka), the cake itself was so darn simple. No butter. No baking soda. Just apples. Eggs. Sugar. Flour. With a touch of vanilla and cinammon. I knew this cake would be making its presence in our kitchen that evening.

And this oh-so-simple cake should have been oh-so-simple. Had I not failed to use my cherished oven thermometer, and not realising that the oven barely reached 150˚C therefore totally undercooking it, and turning it out onto a cooling rack upon which it more than slumped and had to be returned to the oven to recook… all within the 15 minutes before we were to leave for our good friends’ house to bring round this “delicious new recipe” for dessert.. What a disaster.

But as my dearly, dearly beloved reminded me…

The most successful people have the most failures.

Oh I love you and your wisdom.

Apple Sharlotka
Smitten Kitchen

Butter or nonstick spray, for greasing pan

6 large, tart apples, such as Granny Smiths
3 large eggs
1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (125 grams) all-purpose flour

Ground cinnamon, to finish
Powdered sugar, also to finish

Preheat oven to 180˚C. Line the bottom of a 23cm springform pan with parchment paper. Butter the paper and the sides of the pan. Peel, halve and core your apples, then chop them into medium-sized chunks. Pile the cut apples directly in the prepared pan. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, using an electric mixer or whisk, beat eggs with sugar until thick and ribbons form on the surface of the beaten eggs. Beat in vanilla, then stir in flour with a spoon until just combined. The batter will be very thick.

Pour over apples in pan, using a spoon or spatula to spread the batter so that it covers all exposed apples. Bake in preheated oven for 55 to 60 minutes, or until a tester comes out free of batter. This is important. The top may appear crispy and good to go, but, I tell ya, sticky, uncooked batter can still be lurking beneath… Cool in pan for 10 minutes on rack, then flip out onto another rack, peel off the parchment paper, and flip it back onto a serving platter.

Serve warm or cooled, dusted with powdered sugar and cinnamon and a dollop of natural yoghurt.

10 thoughts

  1. This cake looks delicious! And I am so glad I’m not the only one who gets disappointed when I find a great recipe but it then calls for an ingredient I’m probably only going to use for that one recipe.

    P.s.: Happy New Year! I know I’m a little late but the holidays have caused me to be away from the blogosphere for a while so I’m catching up now :)

  2. I just realized how deal breakers have been happening with me ever since I was a kid subscribed to Barbie magazine, they had some fun, simple recipes but most ingredients were not available here.
    I remember reading out a recipe enthusiastically only to me crestfallen when I saw my mom frown & scowl. Didn’t get to try those. :(
    I just tried this recipe & loved it! Despite your warning it did become slightly undercooked inside, somewhat like pudding but I like it. :)

    • Ah I love that you tried it!! That makes me happy :) Yeah I don’t know why it ends up not so cooked in the middle. Perhaps a lower temperature for longer. I’ll try again. Barbie magazine, oh I remember that..

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