Not quite a pie (as we’d understand it in the UK), not quite a strudel, not really a pastry, but georgeous all the same. This dish can be made in advance and keeps well for a day or two. It can also be gently reheated to be served as a dessert with ice cream or custard, but more often it is eaten as a snack between meals or bought from the patiserie to eat on the way to work or on a break. This pie is also suitable for ‘post’, the period of fasting common in orthodoxy when it is forbidden to eat dairy and meat products.
Time: About an hour and a half to two hours
Servings: About 10 pieces
For the dough:
450g of plain flour
260g of caster sugar
125ml of sparkling water
150ml of vegetable oil
1 teaspoon of vinegar (white, not malt)
1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
For the filling:
1 kg of peeled, cored apples (get about 1.3kg pre-peeling)
200g of caster sugar
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
1 heaped teaspoon of cinammon
Some icing sugar for dusting
A knob of butter or a little vegetable oil for greasing the tray
1. Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl and mix in the 260g of sugar.
2. In a separate bowl, dissolve the bicarbonate of soda in the vinegar and then add the vegetable oil and the sparkling water and combine.
3. Pour the liquid componants into the flour and sugar mixture and stir until starting to combine, then, using your hand, mix it until it starts to come together into a ball. If it is a little dry after a few minutes of mixing, add a splash more water – likewise, if a little sticky, add some more flour.
4. Turn the ball out onto a lightly-floured work surface and knead for about ten minutes until the dough becomes smooth and no longer crumbles at the edges. The dough will be very soft rather than elastic.
5. Form it back into a ball and cut into two equal halves.
6. Take a baking tray that is about 25cm square (or rectangular, or round, but around the same surface area) and about 4cm deep. Cut a piece of baking paper to about 1 cm larger than the tray and using this piece of paper as a guide, roll the first of the halves of dough out on top of the paper until it almost reaches the edge.
7. Grease the baking tray well with butter or oil (to keep the recipe 100% vegan/post) and then transfer the sheet of dough to it using the baking paper. As the dough is very delicate, it’s much easier to move it with the paper rather than trying to do it by hand. Keep the paper for later when you roll out the second half of the dough.
8. Put the lined baking tray to one side, or even in the fridge, whilst you prepare the filling. Now’s probably a good time to start preheating the oven (cc. 200C).
9. Peel and chop the apples, removing the seeds and cores. If you like the filling to be more like an apple paste, you can grate the apples, otherwise you can chop them into small cubes for a slightly ‘chunky’ end result.
10. Put the apples into a saucepan with the 200g of sugar and set on a medium heat until the juices start to be extracted from the fruit and the sugar starts to dissolve. At this point you can add the lemon juice and the cinammon. Stir from time to time to prevent burning on the bottom.
11. Continue to cook it over the same heat until the extracted juices evaporate (probably about 20-30 minutes) leaving the apple in a thick gloopy syrup. Remove from the heat and allow to cool down a bit.
12. When the apple is a little cooler, you can pour it into the prepared baking tray on top of the pastry lining, spreading it into one even layer.
13. Prepare the second layer of dough in the same way as the first, and again using the paper to transfer it, lay it on top of the apple, trimming the overhanging part from around the edge of the tray.
14. Put the tray into the preheated over and bake for about 30 to 40 minutes until the top is golden brown (but not burnt!). I have a gas oven which tends to burn the bottom of things before the top is done, so I usually place some thick ceramic tiles on the bottom shelf to balance out the heat.
15. Once it’s cooked, remove it from the oven and allow it to cool for about a quarter of an hour, dust it with icing sugar, and then cut it into squares (or whatever shape you prefer!).
16. Serve warm or cold.