Sunday, August 12, 2007

more, please!

i have to admit, i have a deep weakness for all baked goods such as the following european-style torte — everything about it is good, from the buttery shortbread-like crust to the sweet cream cheese filling and cinnamon apple topping accented by sliced almonds. it is also one of the simplest desserts to make, especially if you've assembled your (mis en place) ingredients the night before you bake. the apples, however, need to wait just until you make the torte.

once you've tried it, you'll see all the ingredients work wonderfully together. it's great for entertaining, a fancy meal or just because.

definitely, a keeper :)

european-style apple torte

a nice addition to your baking repertoire, this dessert looks like you've put a lot of effort into something which really takes very little. measuring out most of your ingredients beforehand saves you time and simplifies the whole process — the only tedious part is peeling and cutting (and maybe placing?) the apples. the crust is also one of the easiest you'll work with as there is absolutely no rolling involved or prebaking!

crust ingredients:

1/2 c butter, soft
1/3 c sugar
1 pkg vanilla sugar, optional
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp salt
1 c all purpose flour

cheese layer ingredients:

1 pkg (8 oz/25o g) cream cheese, room temp.
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 c sugar
1 egg

apple layer ingredients:

2 large baking apples* (plus 1 extra, just in case)
1/3 c sugar
1/2 - 3/4 tsp cinnamon

*peaches can also be used instead; if using apples make sure they taste good and are the appropriate kind for baking (i always advise trying one before using — if they have little or no taste when eating them or the texture is mealy, chances are they'll be even less geshmak once baked and all will be for naught). i use either macintosh or cortland in this one.

**the final crust is like a shortbread due to its ingredients and manner of baking. it is baked once as a whole and patted in the pan rather than being rolled out.

1/4 c sliced almonds, opt.

you need a springform pan (8.5 inches)


make the crust by creaming together the butter, vanilla, sugar and salt. mix until well blended.

add the flour and mix only until blended.

place the dough in the ungreased 8 1/2" springform pan. the dough will be soft but very workable. you can chill it for a little while, if you wish but there is really no need to.

with your fingers and hand, pat and press the dough in evenly across the bottom of the pan and up the sides about 1 1/2 inches. make sure it is even. use the length of your index finger to press into the inner edge so that it is not too thick between the bottom of the crust and the walls of it.

set aside.

make the cheese filling by mixing everything together in a medium sized bowl.

mix for about 2 or 3 minutes. it needs to be perfectly smooth and not grainy. this is why it is important to have the cream cheese at room temperature.

place the cheese filling in the unbaked crust.

smooth it all around. place aside.

preheat the oven to 450F at this point.

peel and slice the apples into 1/8" slices. it's important to cut them to the right thickness as the texture will be too chunky if they are thicker and you won't have enough apple slices

now the "hard" part: placement of the apples. there are two ways to do it — the "G-d give me patience" way or the lazy laissez-faire way of gently dumping, errr... placing, the apples over the filling without any definite pattern.

getting the apples to layer perfectly is a skill best learned through practice; it also requires patience as the apples don't always like to participate. so if you don't care or don't have patience, opt for method 2.

to layer the apples, it is done in 3 stages:

layer 1:

place the apples around the outer perimeter carefully, taking your time. when you get to the first apple you layered, lift it to add the last one.

layer 2:

repeat layer 1

layer 3:

you will only need a few apples for this one and it is the most difficult. play around with it a bit to make it look neat and presentable. (don't stress as it will be partially covered by the next step and covered in almonds, if using).

now mix the sugar and cinnamon together.

with a spoon, distribute the mixture evenly all over the apples.

at this point, you spread the almonds evenly over the apples. you can skip this if you like but it does add texture and taste.

bake for 10 minutes only @ 450 F and then reduce the heat right away to 400 F and cook for another 25 minutes.

remove and let cool completely.

gently run a knife around the cooled torte and release the spring siding.

let the torte sit several hours in the fridge for it to firm up properly. it is not ready to eat right after baking. best served slightly cold or at room temperature.

dust with confectioners sugar if you like or serve with whipped cream dollops.



Nafeesah said...

This definitely looks like something I would like to try out! I think the cream cheese and apples sound like an absolutely delicious combination. The method for the crust though, sounds just like the method for a new type of crust I came across recently and fell in love with, except that my new crust only uses cream cheese, butter and flour, the method is like your pie crust here. Really yummy. :)

I'll print out this recipe right now :)

burekaboy — said...

hi nafeesah - i'm sure you'll like this one. most people seem to enjoy it a lot; you're right, the cheese filling and the apples go really well together. the crust is fantastic, too and SUPER easy to make (no rolling involved!). i use it for other types of similar baked goods. i've used the one you're talking about with the cream cheese; it's very similar. this one is very buttery and tender but still holds together perfectly.

(btw, answered your question re the baba gannoush ... see the comments)

Emily DeVoto, Ph.D., said...

Do you have any recipes involving ricotta? E.g., one of those Italian tarts? I know, I know, it's kind of an Easter thing, but they're so good!

burekaboy — said...

emily - actually, i do have a few. will post something for ya' eventually. you could probably use ricotta instead of the cream cheese here, too. didn't know ricotta (dessert things) were easter-ish for italians. all i know is good cannoli makes my knees weak, LOL.

Vcuisine said...

BB, it is just tempting like anything. Very neat work by you as usual. I need not read each and every line, just go through your pictures is enough. Amazing! Will try some time in the near future - but minus egg :) hope it will come out well. Viji

burekaboy — said...

hi viji - hi :) thanks for the nice compliment. glad you enjoyed the pictures! i'm sure you'll like this; it is a big hit at dinner parties, etc. you may want to add 1/4 c of sour cream or yogurt to replace the egg and 3 to 4 tbsp of flour to act as a binder like the egg would do.

Unknown said...

Thats a nice step by step explanation:) I am adding u to my blogroll burekaboy:)

burekaboy — said...

hi rv - thanks -- it's actually a very easy recipe, even though it looks like a lot to do.

thanks for the add, my pleasure ;)

Nafeesah said...

Only problem I had with this was that my crust was not 'crusty' enough, it was kinda soft didn't have that flakiness and crumbliness that a crust usually has, Maybe I beat the butter too hard or something? that I think of it, the term 'crusty feet' is SUCH an insult to crusts LOL..

But BB this torte is SO good *weeps* and I was SO proud when I made this because *ehem* my apple arrangement was...may I say this...simply perfect :p (i'm not boasting mind you, but it was my very first time too :p can't help feeling just a bit chuffed innit)

Great recipes you have BB ;) although I know I say it too much but bear with me :p

burekaboy — said...

hey nafeesah - you made it AND had a perfect apple arrangement?!! (claps & bows for nafeesah ;)) i think you SHOULD boast -- arranging those concentric circles can lead one to use "certain" words :o

as for the crust, oops, my bad: i didn't mention that this is a "short" crust and is, therefore, shortbread like in texture -- it's supposed to be that way. . you did nothing wrong. it firms up (more) after a full day or so of chilling but is not the flaky kind of pastry shell (which is why it is not prebaked beforehand). i hope you still like it; sorry you thought you made a "boo boo".

(hey, as if i am going to say stop complimenting me??! LOL)