October is here, and apples are in season and a little cheaper, which means it is time to bake an apple pie, Romanian style.
I have to confess that writing this recipe, as easy as it looks like, kind of kicked my butt.
I always try to do the best work I can when bringing my own culture into the American one with my recipes.
American apple pie is not the same as the Romanian version; therefore, I had to research and figure out how to name the pie.
Most Romanian pies are baked in trays, cut into squares, and served with powder sugar on top. They look more like bars.
However, it came out that the proper English term for this kind of pie is a slab pie.
For those who do not know what a slab pie is: A slab pie is simply a shallow pie made in a rimmed baking sheet, usually a jelly roll pan.
However, as the slab pies are very traditional and standard in Romania and most Eastern European countries, I guess this is the right name for my recipe.
This recipe comes from my German grandmother, who lived in Transylvania. The apple filling is slightly sweet and also cooked before assembling the pie.
We cook the apples first, with butter, sugar, and spices, until the apple juices are reduced to almost nothing.
There is no cornstarch, flour, or other ingredients to thicken the filling. We sometimes add raisins and walnuts, as I did in this recipe.
The slab pie can be filled with anything, farmer's cheese, apples, berries, quinces, or pumpkin. We take advantage of what fruits are in season and make a pie.
Ideal for Gatherings
These pies are excellent for potlucks, parties, and other events with lots of people.
Call them rustic. I think this is a good word for them.
There are many recipes out there to make a pie crust, but this one, in particular, was very interesting to me because of the ingredients required.
My grandmother writes that you can use different combinations of liquids for the dough: 6 tablespoons wine, OR 1 tablespoon rum (yum!) and five tablespoons water, OR 1 tablespoon vinegar and five tablespoons water.
Basically, you have three versions of the same recipe that will taste slightly different. I tried all of them, but I loved the one with the wine.
There is no alcohol left after you bake the pie, but the crust had a subtle taste which I liked a lot.
You can make the dough by hand or use a food processor. Make your life easier if you can! Also, use any apples you want.
I remember the women in my family making apple pies with leftover apples, cheap ones, small and slightly ugly.
Nothing was wasted, and the pies were great! Also, you can keep the skin on the apples if you like!
There is a lot of nutritional value in the skin, but feel free to peel the apples before grating them if you don't like them unpeeled.
PIN THIS FOR LATER:
Have fun making this apple pie version. Call it bars, slab pie, or placinta cu mere (in Romanian), and let me know what you think! See you next time!
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Easy Apple Pie Bars (Slab Pie Recipe)
- 3 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 4 tablespoons lard/cold butter
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- a pinch of salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 large egg
- 2 tablespoons sour cream
- Choose one option for the liquid:
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar + 5 tablespoons water
- OR 1 tablespoon rum plus 5 tablespoons water
- OR 6 tablespoons white wine
- 2 pounds apples any type you like, coarsely grated(use a food processor if you have)
- 4-5 tablespoons granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons butter
- ¼ cup raisins
- ¼ cup chopped walnuts
- To finish: 2 tablespoons milk or 1 egg beaten
- 1-2 tablespoons of powder sugar to sprinkle on top before serving
- In a bowl, combine flour, salt, sugar, and baking powder. Cut in lard/butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
- Incorporate the egg and the sour cream.
- Add the liquid and incorporate. The recipe requires six tablespoons of liquid that can be: 1 tablespoon white vinegar + 5 tablespoons water, OR 1 tablespoon rum plus five tablespoons water, OR 1 tablespoon vinegar plus five tablespoon water. Use the combination of ingredients you have available.
- Shape dough into a ball; chill for 30 minutes.
- TIP: If you use a food processor, start the same, pulsing 1-2 times together flour, salt, sugar, and baking powder. Add lard/butter and pulse a few times until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the egg, sour cream, and liquid and pulse until a dough is formed. Shape it into a ball and chill for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, grate the apples. You can peel them first, but it is not necessary if, for example, you buy organic ones that do not have the skin waxed. I prefer to leave the skin on—it contains most of the apple's nutrients, but if you don't like the skin, feel free to peel the apple before you grate it.
- In a cooking pan, melt the butter and add the apples, lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and sugar. Mix and cook the apples for about 10 minutes until the juices are reduced.
- Set aside to cool.
- Preheat oven to 350F/180C.
- Grease and flour the baking pan. Set aside.
- On a floured surface, divide the dough into two parts.
- Roll one piece of dough the size of the pan. Place it on the bottom of it.
- Add the apple filling and spread evenly.
- Roll the other half of the dough to the pan's size and cover the apples with it.
- To finish, brush the surface of the pie with milk or an egg wash.
- Use a fork to pinch the surface of the pie.
- Bake at 350/180C for about 45-50 minutes or until the top crust is golden brown.
- Remove from the oven, place the pan on a metal rack and let it cool for an hour.
- The traditional Romanian way is to sprinkle powder sugar on top. It is served cut in squares.