It seems that these days I spent a lot of time in the kitchen, baking. All those March birthdays, I'm sure. So here is a recipe for the bakers among our readers. This is the best ever apple cake. It's a bit time-consuming (the apple cutting takes time) but it's well worth it. Note to US American bakers: I've calculated the cup-equivalents for you guys and they are, of course, not always "fitting". It came out as something like "a cup plus three teaspoons". We Germans believe in precision in our baking, that's why we prefer the metric weight system, you see. ;-) The dough is what we call a "Mürbteig". My dictionary gives me "short pastry" as the English expression. I'd appreciate a pointer whether this is the correct word. OK, let's begin with a list of ingredients:
Dough: 300 g all-purpose flour (2.5 cups, plus a tsp) 200 g butter, cool (5/6 cups) 175 g fine sugar (1 1/3 cups) 1 egg lemon peel to taste Apple filling: 1 kg tart apples (2.2 pounds) 1 lemon 50 gr rasins (1/3 cup) 50 g sugar (1/3 cup, roughly) cinnamon Royale: 2 eggs 3 Tbs milk 1 Tbs sugar 1 Tbs instant pudding powder (vanilla) Sift the flour into a bowl and make a little ditch in the middle in which you place the egg (without the shell, of course). Sprinkle the sugar around, then cut the cool butter into little pieces and add around the ditch as well. Beat the egg a little with a fork and work some flour into it. Then, I suggest you use your hands. Dig right in and knead until you have a nice, firm dough. Work quickly so that the butter doesn't get too warm -- the dough will get very sticky then. Wrap the dough with plastic foil and let it rest in the fridge for at least an hour, better two. You can also prepare the dough a day in advance. The trick with this dough is that it should never get warm, so work swiftly and always place those parts of the dough you're not working with back into the fridge. For the filling, peel, core and slice the apples into small pieces -- roughly the size of a quarter. Mix with lemon juice, sugar, raisins (if you like, I usually leave them out), a dash or two of cinnamon. The recipe doesn't call for it but I like to add some crunch in the form of some crushed almonds or other nuts. Also, a dash of cloves works well. Set the apples aside and prepare the royale: In an extra bowl, mix eggs, milk, sugar and pudding powder well. Set aside. Butter a 26 cm (10 in) spring form. Divide the dough into two equal halves, put one half back into the fridge. With a rolling pin, roll out the dough to 2-3 mm thickness (0.1 in). Using the spring form as a template, cut out a 26 cm circle and place it into the form. Dab a couple time with a fork to create small vents. Again, place the leftover dough back into the fridge and use half of the cooled dough next. I know, this whole dough-cooling seems excessive but I swear, handling is very easy as long as the dough doesn't get too warm. Then it will be all sticky and you'll curse me for putting you through this. So bear with me and use cool dough only. So, use half of the remaining dough and roll it into one or more little sausages, about 2 cm in diameter (0.7 in). Place those into the spring form around the edges of the dough circle, and press slightly upwards to create the outer rim of the cake. Dab a fork into the rim a couple of times. Fill in apples and spread evenly. Cover apples with a lattice of dough -- roll out the dough, cut it into strips and arrange those strips on top of the cake. Then pour the egg-milk mixture over the apples, using a brush to make sure the lattice is nicely coated with the mixure. Bake at 200 C (390 F) for 50-60 minutes or until the top of the cake is nicely browned. Done! This cake is best eaten the day after, when the apples have softened the crisp dough a little. Serve with whipped cream -- yum!