Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Tuesday's With Dorie

This week's Tuesday's with Dorie challenge was the Russian Grandmother's Apple Pie Cake. One of the best things about this cookbook is that Dorie not only provides you with great recipes, she also takes a number of chances to tell you some great stories about where her recipes came from. This recipe is one of those that has an interesting story. There are actually very few cookbooks that I've taken the time to read anything but the recipes, but I must say that this cookbook is worth the extra time. If you have this book but haven't taken the time to read her stories, definitely give them a chance. I think that is part of what makes her cookbook so great, you really get a better idea of where she is coming from.

Anyway...on to today's recipe. The recipe is obviously for a apple pie cake, I think you would have to make it as is to really understand why it's called a "pie cake," but I tried a little something different with this one. Another great thing about Dorie's cookbook is her "playing around" section on most recipes; that section gives different ways to make each of her recipes. I love that because not only do you get all of the base recipes, you also get ways to make each one different. On this challenge I chose to do one of the "playing around" options, which was Apple Turnovers.

Initially I was really excited about this week's challenge. I've been loving apples since the Brown Sugar Apple Cheesecake so I thought this was another great chance to get yummy apple flavoring in my dessert. My only problem was that I seem to be in some sort of a cooking slump. I keep saying that I've lost my mojo. The previous night I had a disasterous run in with fried chicken (too bad to even be posted), so I was a little apprehensive and I think my nerves got the best of me.

The raw dough for the turnovers tasted amazing (I'm a sucker for raw dough), and the filling tasted really good as well. Something happened in the cooking process though. The poor little turnovers just dried out. They still looked pretty (if you look past the vents; I kept calling them self-venting), but they were just too dry for me. Everyone was nice and said they tasted good, but I think they could use some work. It may have been the Fuji apples, maybe they are a bit drier than other varieties. So if you have any suggestions please let me know. I would love to make these again and get a little gooier of an apple turnover. Anyway, here's the recipe and the instructions for the turnovers.

Russian Grandmothers' Apple Pie-Cake

For The Dough
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Juice of 1 lemon
3 1/4 - 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

For The Apples
10 medium apples, all one kind or a mix (I like to use Fuji, Golden Delicious and Ida Reds; my grandmother probably used dry baking apples like Cordland and Rome)
Squirt of fresh lemon juice
1 cup moist, plump raisins (dark or golden)
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Sugar, preferably decorating (coarse) sugar, for dusting

To Make The Dough: Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs and continue to beat until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 3 minutes more. Reduce the mixer speed to low, add the baking powder and salt and mix just to combine. Add the lemon juice - the dough will probably curdle, but don't worry about it. Still working on low speed, slowly but steadily add 3 1/4 cups of the flour, mixing to incorporate it and scraping down the bowl as needed. The dough is meant to be soft, but if you think it looks more like a batter than a dough at this point, add the extra 1/4 cup flour. (The dough usually needs the extra flour.) When properly combined, the dough should almost clean the sides of the bowl.

Turn the dough out onto a work surface, gather it into a ball and divide it in half. Shape each half into a rectangle. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or for up to 3 days. (The dough can be wrapped airtight and frozen for up to 2 months; defrost overnight in the refrigerator.)

To Make The Apples: Peel and core the apples and cut into slices about 1/4 inch thick; cut the slices in half crosswise if you want. Toss the slices in a bowl with a little lemon juice - even with the juice, the apples may turn brown, but that's fine - and add the raisins. Mix the sugar and cinnamon together, sprinkle over the apples and stir to coat evenly. Taste an apple and add more sugar, cinnamon, and/or lemon juice if you like.

Getting Ready to Bake: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Generously butter a 9x12-inch baking pan (Pyrex is good) and place it on a baking shee tlined with parchment or a silicone mat.

Remove the dough from the fridge. If it is too hard to roll and it cracks, either let it sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes or give it a few bashes with your rolling pin to get it moving. Once it's a little more malleable, you've got a few choices. You can roll it on a well-floured work surface or roll it between sheets of plastic wrap or wax paper. You can even press or roll out pieces of the dough and patch them together in the pan - because of the baking powder in the dough, it will puff and self-heal under the oven's heat. Roll the dough out until it is just a little larger all around than your pan and about 1/4 inch thick - you don't want the dough to be too thin, because you really want to taste it. Transfer the dough to the pan. If the dough comes up the sides of the pan, that's fine; if it doesn't that's fine too.

Give the apples another toss in the bowl, then turn them into the pan and, using your hands, spread them evenely across the bottom.

Roll out the second piece of dough and position it over the apples. Cut the dough so you've got a 1/4 to 1/2 inch overhang and tuck the excess into the sides of the pan, as though you were making a bed. (If you don't have that much overhang, just press what you've got against the sides of the pan.)

Brush the top of the dough lightly with water and sprinkle sugar over the dough. Using a small sharp knife, cut 6 to 8 evenly spaced slits in the dough.

Bake for 65 to 80 minutes, or until the dough is a nice golden brown and the juices from the apples are bubbling up through the slits. Transfer the baking pan to a cooling rack and cool to just warm or to room temperature. You'll be tempted to taste it sooner, but I think the dough needs a little time to rest.

To make the turnovers:

Cut the apples into small pieces. Roll the dough out to around 1/4'' thickness, cut into 4.5-5 in. circles. Spoon around 2 tablespoons of apple mixture into each circle. Lightly dab a little water around the edges of the circle and seal with a fork. Cut a slit in the top of each turnover and bake for 25-30 min. on a lined baking sheet.


Tara said...

your turnovers look like they turned out great even if they were a little dry. :) you should be proud that you took the chance in going outside of the traditional cake-form box!

Michelle said...

I'm sorry this didn't turn out the way you had hoped, but they look wonderful!!

ostwestwind said...

Well done, this looks wonderful, although you are not really convinced.

Ulrike from K├╝chenlatein

CB said...

I did the turnovers too! GMTA! Mine weren't dry but I took mine out at 15 minutes. I didn't get the nice brown all over though. Just along the edges. I guess it was give and take with this one...

Erin said...

Your turnovers look great, even if you didn't think they were what you thought they would be. I want to try turnovers next time!

slush said...

Im sorry you didnt dig it, there is always next week! They look awesome though!

Joy the Baker said...

I LOVE you turnovers!!! Just beautiful!

noskos said...

They look great even though they didn't turn out the way you wanted!!

Dianne's Dishes said...

I think the dry issue was the amount of sugar. In my opinion 10 apples needed a whole lot more sugar than a mere 1/4 cup. I used 5 apples and ended up using about 3/4ths a cup (and I used brown instead of regular sugar because brown sugar just goes so well with apples!) They look great though!

Jhianna said...

I made the 13x9 pan with Fuji, Gala, and Granny Smith and mine were dry too. I thought it might be my choice of apple, but maybe it's the sugar like Dianne said.

(I also wondered if the dough didn't soak up the apple juices.)

Your turnovers look fantastic!

amanda. said...

Mine were kinda dry too, still delicious though. If you come up with a way to make them not-so-dry let me know.

Melissa said...

Sorry they didn't turn out, but they look good!

Lori said...

Thanks for the comments and suggestions. I may have to try these again to give them a fair shake. I definitely think they have potential if I can work out my dryness issues! Any ideas for different uses for that tasty crust?

Jaime said...

your turnover looks great! i can only say that my ONE turnover did taste a little dry too... well, it wasn't dry, but it just wasn't super moist either. it tasted more like a cookie filled w/fruit than a cake or turnover. i think that may just be b/c you are baking the smaller pieces instead of the spread out crust?

Dolores said...

I've also opted to try her "playing around" suggestion... but I'm a few hours behind you. Because I didn't *read* the recipe until I got home from work tonight, I didn't know the crust needed to rest several hours. So my turnovers will be breakfast tomorrow...

Piggy said...

yummy looking turnovers.. :-)

Peabody said...

I ate a ton of the dough. :)

Sweet and Savory Eats said...

I did the turnovers as well and found the crust to be a little more dense than expected. (Maybe it's the whole "pie-cake thing"). I cooked the second batch a few minutes less than the first and noticed the consistency of the crust was better. Maybe try that. Also, I was thinking of using fresh blueberries and apples next time (no raisins). I would think the berry juices would make it more moist.