There are many apple confections that fall under this general title but I grew up with this particular one, a barely sweet apple tart really, and it will always have a special place in my heart and repertoire. It’s the same crust and preparation as the Zwetschgendatschi but I always make it in a half sheet pan. . . it’s wonderful for days and makes a fine breakfast, with or without whipped cream!
Feel free to halve the recipe but then you have to deal with splitting an egg–or make the full crust recipe and freeze half the crust for a future use. I have been using Lonesome Whistle Farms pastry flour in this recipe with great success and have even added some of their Red Fife bread flour for wonderful flavor and texture.
This most recent time I ran it under the broiler (for maybe 30 seconds too long, though I kind of liked the slightly burnt bites) for a little more caramelization. Watch it carefully if you do!
250 grams unsalted butter (2 sticks and 2 1/2 tablespoons) at room temperature
65 grams (1/3 cup) sugar
Zest of half a lemon (optional)
1 large egg
400 grams (3 cups) flour (I use half all purpose and have whole wheat pastry flour–see headnote)
1/2 teaspoon salt
6-7 lbs apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/3 cup sugar
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Cream the butter, sugar and lemon zest, if using, in a large mixing bowl with a wooden spoon. Add the egg and incorporate well. Add the flour and salt and carefully incorporate it. I often resort to using my hands here. The dough should come together fairly easily and be soft but not sticky.
Put the dough in the middle of a half sheet pan (13″ x 18″) or equivalent baking sheet or two. The sides of the half sheet pan are low enough that I can use my rolling pin to flatten out the dough and spread it around the pan. I use my hands to get it into the corners. This takes a little doing but you should have plenty of dough to cover it easily to a depth of about 1/4-inch.
Now make rows of apple slices, fit tightly together, until the crust is covered. Sprinkle evenly with cinnamon and sugar and bake for about 40 minutes until the edges of the crust are browning, the apples are soft and browning and the sugar is caramelizing. Run under the broiler for just a minute or two if you want more color on the top–see headnote.
Serve warm or at room temperature, cut into squares, with just barely sweetened whipped cream.