Russian food reflects the environment and climate of the country. With long, harsh winters, the food needs to both be able to be stored and provide energy and warmth. Carbohydrates are the key. The most popular Russian foods are potatoes, bread, eggs, beef, butter, cabbage, milk, sour cream, curds, mushrooms, lard, cucumbers, tomatoes, apples, berries, honey, sugar, salt, garlic, and onions.
After another long shift at the pub, a carbohydrate-filled treat is exactly what I needed. I had bought a bunch of Granny Smith apples (best done with the sourest apples you can find) and made Russian Apple Pie from Olga’s collection of Russian recipes online. Ruscuisine.com provides great authentic recipes, but true to the authentic nature (most grandmas I ask for recipes usually tell me the recipe is in their head – the oral tradition of cooking), they lack some key instructions like temperature of cooking and type of pan to use. Therefore, below the recipe is my advice to add to the directions.
Russian apple pie is a traditional autumn bakery. The key secret of a cooking success is a special apple sort, called Antonovka. They are sour and give a special taste to the sweet dough.
3 ea big eggs
3 ea average sour apples
1 c sugar
1 c flour
1 ts baking soda
Peel the apples and slice into thin pieces. Mix eggs, soda and sugar in the mixer. Add flour gradually. The dough must be liquid as sour cream. Pour a little vegetable oil in the pan. Put all apples (use different design) on the bottom. Pour the dough in to the pan evenly. Heat the oven and bake the pie during 20-30 minutes. When the pie is ready, put the pan on the wet napkin for 5 minutes. It helps to detach the pie from the pan. The apples must be on the top of the pie. Apple pie is served, of course, with my favourite beverage – tea.
Bake at 375 degrees for 40-50 minutes. Use a cake pan, as it will look better when flipped upside down (I used a pie plate and it’s not as pretty). And it is a lot more like a cake than a pie.
The best bit
The best bit of making the pie was having an apple pie picnic in the park with a companion and eating it. Sitting on a blanket, swigging wine out of the bottle, sharing apple pie out of a plastic container with two forks and talking. Amazing.
I’ve found throughout this month that my favourite times have been when I get to share the cooking with someone else. I’ve had so many great conversations over food and it’s always sad to me that we’ve turned into a society that eats on the run. The communal nature of eating should be revered, not lost in the rat race of capitalist society and daily errands.
Turkish stuffed eggplant.