Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Almás pite - Cinnamon apple squares


This is my Mum's recipe. She prefers a yeasty dough for the pastry as it makes this cake really light and it keeps fresh and soft for days. It is a perfect mid-afternoon autumnal treat with the warm scent of cinnamon and cooked apples. I used dessert apples as they need less sugar for stewing and we like their flavour. In Hungary it is served with just a dusting of icing sugar, but it would also be lovely with cream, fresh egg custard, creme fréche, sour cream or thick Greek yoghurt.

For the pastry:
500g plain flour
100 ml milk
20g fresh yeast or 7g (1packet) dried yeast
100g icing sugar
2 egg yolks
200g melted butter

Crumble the fresh yeast into the luke warm milk and leave to activate in a warm place for 15 minutes. If using dried yeast, add it straight to the flour. Sift the icing sugar and flour together, add the yeasty milk, egg yolks and knead it until well mixed. Add the melted butter gradually until it becomes smooth. Use a dough mixer or a bread maker for these first stages (you can leave dough to rise in bread mixers too). Cover it with a damp tea towel and leave in a warm place to rise - this could take an hour or more. In the meantime, make the filling.

For the filling:
2kg dessert apples, peeled and grated
5tbsp sugar (less or more to taste - depends on your taste buds and the sweetness of the apples)
1tsp ground cinnamon

Grate the apples by hand or a food processor and put them in a large heavy base saucepan with the sugar and cinnamon. Warm it slowly until the sugar dissolves then stew it with a lid on, until the apples have softened, very little juice left and it has become a soft, not soggy but creamy texture. This takes about 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 6. When the dough is ready, knock it back and knead it for a minute on a floured surface. Devide into two and roll them out to the size of your greased baking tin (I used a 30cmx40cm tin). Lay the first sheet of pastry in the tin, sprinkle with semolina or breadcrumbs, this will stop the pastry going soggy from the filling. Spread the apple filling evenly on top then sprinkle with more semolina and place the second sheet of pastry on top. Give it an egg wash if you wish and bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes or until it is a lovely golden colour. Leave it to cool completely in the tin - it is much easier to cut into neat squares when cooled down. Dust with icing sugar.

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