Russian Company Cake

Russian Company Cake

Wotchers!

Week 5 of The Great British Bake Off and it’s Traybakes and Biscuits. Specifically, a traybake for the Signature Dish, Tuiles for the Technical Challenge and a Biscuit Tower for the Showstopper.

Yes. My eyebrow quirked at that particular delight, too. Surely in Britain, when it comes to biscuits, we’re a nation of dunkers, not architects. Has anyone, in all honesty, ever looked at a plate of biscuits and had as their first thought: Hey, I could slap a few hundred of them together and make something really spectacular!?

Quite.

So moving on, I’ve chosen as this week’s themed recipe, a traybake. But as you have probably guessed, it’s not going to be your run of the mill traybake. I found this particular delight on a Russian blog ( http://josy-bites.livejournal.com/ ), with the story that her grandmother had managed to wheedle it out of some relatives. Well as you may know (or not), I do love a recipe that has been begged for – it gives it a real pedigree in terms of the deliciousness of the result – in my mind anyways.

I’ve changed it a bit from the original -not least because Google Translate service had a shocker of a time with the weights and measures – good job I always double check, is all I can say. I used dried cranberries (because they needed using up) instead of apricots (because I didn’t have any to hand), and used a mixture of both cooking and eating apples to make a puree instead of laying them on the base raw, but I consider these minor and that the recipe still retains it’s origins. This version is also just 2/3 of the original quantities, but scaling up to 3 eggs etc. is quite straightforward (also increase cooking time to 40-45 minutes).

Finally, it’s also a little different to the ‘bakewells, banoffees and brownies’ that the Radio Times tells us is headed our way on Tuesday, which makes for a nice change.

The mixture of apples is refreshing without being too tart, and the cranberries give a zing of sharpness as well as being a great splash of colour. The pastry is crumbly like shortbread, but neither cloying nor overly-rich. The meringue and biscuit topping are light and delicately textured, and the overall taste is indulgent but without the guilt – delish!

Russian Company Cake

Makes 10 slices

2 medium cooking apples (I used Bramley)
2 crisp eating apples (I used Jazz)
60ml water
140g unsalted butter
265g plain flour
3/4tsp baking powder
2 large eggs – separated
35g caster sugar + 100g-ish more for the meringue
150g dried cranberries

  • Grease and line a rectangular bake tin (20cm x 30cm) with baking parchment.
  • Peel, core and quarter the apples.
  • Cut the quarters in half again, and then slice crossways into chunks approx. 2cm square.
  • Put the apple chunks and the water into a small saucepan.
  • Cover and put on a medium-low heat until the apples have softened. The cooking apples will break down into a fluff and the dessert apples will hold their shape, which makes for softened apple pieces in a soft puree. This gives a nice not-too-wet texture for the traybake.
  • Remove the lid and continue heating until there’s no liquid visible. Set the apples aside to cool.
  • Blitz the butter, flour, baking powder and the 35g of caster sugar in the bowl of a food processor until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
  • Add the egg yolks and blitz again until the mixture comes together in a soft dough.
  • Knead the dough smooth.
  • Divide the dough into 2 uneven pieces.
  • Shape 1/3 into a cylinder and wrap in cling film and place into the freezer to firm up – 15-20 minutes.
  • Either just press the remaining dough into the baking tin, or roll it out first then transfer it across. It is a very forgiving pastry, so if cracks or holes appear, just patch it with other pieces.
  • Spread the cooled apples over the pastry.
  • Sprinkle the dried cranberries over the apples.
  • Weigh the egg-whites and measure out an equal weight of caster sugar.
  • Whisk the egg-whites to soft peaks, then gradually whisk in the caster sugar until they become stiff peaks.
  • Spread the meringue over the cranberries and apple.
  • Preheat the oven to 180°C, 160°C Fan.
  • Remove the cylinder of dough from the freezer and, using a coarse grater, grate the remaining dough over the top of the meringue. There should be just enough for a light covering.
  • Bake on the top shelf of the oven for 20 minutes, then turn the bake around and move to the bottom shelf for a further 15 minutes.
  • If the top looks like it is browning too much, cover lightly with either baking foil or parchment.
  • Set aside to cool in the tin.

7 Comments on “Russian Company Cake”

  1. Hannah says:

    This is going in the KEEP file!

  2. Jay says:

    Oh heck, M-A, that looks too scrumptious for words. If I hadn’t spend the day baking 200 chocolate shortbreads I’d be RIGHT on it.
    (By the way, I’ve made loads of jam this week to make Jamjacks for my son Zach again. Oh, and I’ve a new blog)

  3. Iain says:

    Fabulous, they look as good as they sound.

  4. Judi Delaney says:

    This came out from the oven at 2.30pm and there’s only half left, no doubt that’ll be gone after dinner. A lovely recipe, my pastry was a little on the soft side after baking but do I care?, no I do not!!!

    • MAB says:

      Wotchers Judi!

      And Huzzah! Really glad it’s going down so well! Almost endessly customisable with different fruit combinations, too!

      Have a fab weekend! M-A 😀

  5. Kit says:

    Made this two weeks ago for a special dinner dessert, it’s been requested again for this weekend – first time I’ve ever had a request for a repeat so soon. Brilliant recipe, surprisingly simple for how amazing the end result tastes.


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