My childhood apple flatbread
Made with layers of “fake” puff pastry and filled with thinly cut fresh apples – that was my childhood taste, wonderfully simple and yet so special. It was after Latvia regained independence in1991 that pastries began to play a bigger role in everyday life since there were no more restrictions from “the top” (USSR) and people were free to do what they wanted. Cafes flourished and people enjoyed a cup of instant coffee or tea with pastries. Pastries were not the only things they served in cafes –ice cream cocktails and ice cream balls served in metal glasses on plastic legs, sprinkled with roasted peanuts and maybe some roughly grated chocolate (it was hard to get other nuts in the USSR), too. For lunch, people liked to eat “rosols” (they call it Russian salad in Spain), rolled meat filled with plums, or a hardboiled egg with mayonnaise (yes, as simple as that – egg cut into half and served). That was when this apple pie was loved, too. Made with the simplest ingredients – flour, sour cream, and, at that time, margarine, (something new and super hit after that old boring butter, OMG!), and it took no time to make and had a lot of taste.
I found this recipe in my mother’s recipe notebook, and I remember her making it time after time. It was always loved and finished quickly, because at that time we were happy about every little sweet thing that was made at home – it was an expensive treat and not many people wanted to spend money on that.
This recipe I am taking one step further – I hate margarine so I use good old butter, some cardamom and vanilla, and I do caramelize the apples, not like in the recipe that calls for fresh apples. The soft texture of the buttery apples just makes the taste so much better. I have a proof - 2 batches gone in two days.
For the pastry:
250 g cold butter
420 g wheat flour
pinch of sea salt
2 tbsp Demerara sugar
¼ tsp cardamom powder
220 g sour cream (20 – 25%)*
1 tbsp vanilla extract
for the filling:
500 g cleaned apples, cut into small pieces
100 g butter
100 g Demerara sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ cardamom powder
½ vanilla pod, cut lengthways
1 small egg
20 ml milk
Preheat oven to 200°. Line a 23 x 30 cm rimmed baking sheet with baking paper. Mix egg with milk.
Put flour, salt, cardamom, sugar and roughly grated butter into a bowl. Rub the butter into the flour so that mix resembles rough breadcrumbs, but so that there are still bigger pieces of butter and flour. Add sour cream and vanilla. Mix with your hands until the dough comes together. You will still see some pieces of butter and that is how it should be. Divide in two, and on a floured surface, roll out one half 23 x 30 cm. Place onto the baking sheet, prick with a fork and brush with egg wash. Put the pan into the oven and bake until it starts to turn golden (around 15 – 20 minutes).
In the meantime, put all of the filling ingredients into a pan and simmer on a medium high heat until it starts to caramelize and there is almost no liquid left (just a tiny bit). You can also do this before you make the pastry. When it is ready, take it off the heat.
When the bottom flatbread is ready, take the pan out of the oven and place the apples in an even layer on top. Roll out the other half of the pastry, prick with a fork, place on top of the apples and tuck the sides under the apples and the bottom pastry layer. Brush with egg wash, sprinkle with Demerara sugar, and bake for another 20 minutes until it is golden.
* The best thing is to use sour cream, but you can substitute with crème fraiche.
Recipe and photos: Signe Meirāne
Photos taken with Sony alpha 7s