A rustic apple and hazelnut cake, consisting of a thick layer of apples between two sheets of shortcrust pastry, some roasted hazelnuts as well… this recipe is utterly delicious.
Although this apple and hazelnut cake is not necessarily a Romanian recipe, it still reminds me very much of the typical Romanian apple cake that my great-grandmother or her daughters used to bake.
The main difference is in the base, the Romanian apple tray bake features a thicker, soft batter layer, while this apple and hazelnut cake is made with shortcrust pastry, so it is more like a pie. Both versions are incredibly delicious though, you should definitely try them.
What do you need?
- Lots of them, about 1 ½ kg/ 3.3 lbs.
- You will have to peel and grate quite a lot of apples, it is not hard work, but it takes a while, I think I needed about 15 minutes just for that.
- The amount of apples used makes this pie perfect for using up a larger amount of those apples you might get from your generous neighbors in autumn.
- I bought already ground hazelnuts, which I roasted in a dry pan.
- Don’t skip the roasting step, it adds a lot of flavor.
- It is very common in Europe.
- If you don’t have it replace it with 3 tablespoons granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.
- You can make your own vanilla sugar by sticking an empty vanilla pod in a jar full of granulated sugar and leaving it for a week or so until the sugar is infused with vanilla flavor. You can add more sugar to the jar after you have used some of it.
- Or grind an empty vanilla pod very finely in a food processor and mix it with granulated or icing sugar. I prefer this method because the vanilla flavor is more intense.
- The shortcrust pastry is not so beautifully rolled as one might think, but that is not a problem.
- Divide the pastry into two equal pieces and roll as good as you manage.
- The pastry will probably break when you transfer it to the casserole dish, just press it with your fingers to make it whole again.
- That is very easily done on the bottom of the dish and it works as well for the upper sheet of pastry.
- The whole thing doesn’t have to look perfect, the charm of this pie is that is so rustical… 🙂
- Sprinkle the pie with a nice layer of icing sugar just after baking it and it will look just great.
- The apples need to be squeezed before being added to the cake.
- Take one handful of the apples and squeeze it to remove the excess liquid.
- Continue this way with the remaining grated apples. Spread the apples on top of the pastry and level.
- I used a glass casserole dish to bake the pie.
- You don’t have to use a glass dish if you don’t have one, any kind of casserole dish or a deeper pie dish would do, but a glass thing does help you see better when the pie is finally baked.
- Just lift the dish carefully above your head (don’t drop it) and have a look at the bottom layer of the pastry, it should have a flaky look and it shouldn’t look wet anymore.
How to serve?
- The apple and hazelnut cake can be served warm or at room temperature.
- If serving it warm, you can add a dollop of vanilla ice cream on top.
- If serving at room temperature, some whipped cream would be great.
More apple and hazelnut cakes?
Apple and Hazelnut Cake
- 300 g all-purpose flour 10.5 oz/ 2 ½ cups
- 100 g granulated sugar 3.5 oz/ ½ cup
- 200 g unsalted butter 7 oz/ ¾ cup + 1 tablespoon, cold and cubed
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 ½ kg kapples 3.3 lbs
- 3 tablespoons vanilla sugar (Note 2)
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar or more to taste
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 100 g ground hazelnuts 3.5 oz/ ¾ cups + 1 tablespoon
- icing sugar
- vanilla ice cream optional
- whipped cream optional
- Make the pastry: Place the flour and sugar in the food processor. Pulse shortly to mix. Add the cold and cubed butter and the egg yolks and process shortly until you obtain some large dough crumbs. Turn the mixture on the working surface, knead lightly to form a ball, wrap in plastic foil.
- Refrigerate for about 30 minutes or until you prepare the rest.
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius/ 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter a casserole dish of about 30×20 cm/ 12×8-inches.
- Roast the hazelnuts in a large pan without any fat until they become fragrant and a shade darker. Keep an eye on them all the time and shake the pan often. Transfer to a plate and let cool until you prepare the rest.
- Peel and roughly grate the apples. Mix them with vanilla sugar, granulated sugar, and cinnamon.
- Divide the pastry into two equal parts. Press one portion into a rough rectangle on a lightly floured surface. Roll it as well as you can with a lightly floured rolling pin. Run a knife under the pastry sheet to help it come off the table and place it carefully in the casserole dish. If it breaks, push it back in form with your fingers, everything will stick together again perfectly. Prick with a fork all over the place.
- Sprinkle the pastry with ½ of the roasted hazelnuts.
- Fill: Take one handful of the apples and squeeze it to remove the excess liquid. Continue this way with the remaining grated apples. Spread the apples on top of the pastry and level. Sprinkle the remaining hazelnuts on top.
- Cover: Roll the rest of the pastry like you did the first time. Place the pastry on top of the apples and press with your fingers to repair the broken parts; it works even if there are apples underneath. Prick the pastry with the fork again.
- Bake for about 40-45 minutes until the pastry is golden. If you use a glass casserole dish, lift it and look underneath to check the bottom; the pie is done if the bottom pastry layer doesn't look wet anymore, the pie is done.
- Sprinkle the hot pie with icing sugar. Serve warm or at room temperature as suggested above.
- Always use a digital kitchen scale in baking; it ensures the best results (Amazon affiliate link).
- Vanilla sugar is very common in Europe. If you don’t have it replace it with 3 tablespoons of granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. For making your vanilla sugar, see the blog post.