This old-world Ashkenazi apple dessert is easier than it looks and completely delicious. Made with a yeasted oil-based dough, it makes a wonderful treat to cap off a Sukkot meal or fall Shabbat dinner.Yum
I know I'm always invoking the late Gil Marks, whose Encyclopedia of Jewish Food is an unparalleled source of Jewish food history (even if, to my chagrin, he doesn't list his sources; maybe one day I'll write a commentary tracking them down, #blineder). But I haven't really started in on maybe my very favorite cookbook of his, The World of Jewish Desserts. I found this book when I went in search of, well, Jewish desserts, the types of treats our foremothers served before margarine was invented. There had to be a natively parve, historically authentic answer to this conundrum, right? Well, as with most Jewish questions, the answer is complicated. Dessert as a course following a main meal is a historical novelty and geoculturally specific, and in addition, Ashkenazi Jews didn't always wait a long span of time between meat and milk. Meanwhile Sefardi and Mizrachi Jews had all the honeyed, nutty, doughy desserts and no need of butter. Tachlis (bottom-line)? Open up Gil Marks' masterpiece and find a wealth of yeasted, layered, frittered, fried cakes, cookies, puddings, and confections from the historic global Jewish community. The majority of them were unfamiliar to me, so of course I have to make them, one by one. And this one, well, it's become a staple item in my fall line-up: delicious, apple-y, easy, good hot or cold, for dessert or breakfast.
The relative of the apfelschalet, also called apfelbuwele, is fluden, a layered cake that can be filled with apples, almonds, poppy seeds, or all of the above, especially if you're in the Hungarian orbit. Originally, I gather, fluden was made with a yeast dough rolled thin, and today I've seen many recipes that use baking powder instead. I've not yet had great success, aesthetically anyway, making fluden, but rolling it up like a jelly roll? That I can do. Enter apfelschalet.
Making the yeast dough for apfelschalet
This extra-rich yeast dough is a stunner: delicious while being dairy-free, easy to work with, a good all-around sweet yeast dough to have in your collection. I use it in many recipes, and here it makes a wonderful shell to encase all those cinnamon-y apples.
To make the dough, you start off by activating the yeast in warm water. (You can also use instant yeast and skip the activation if you like; both work well in this recipe.) After the yeast is foamy, in go all the enrichments—sugar, oil, eggs, and plenty of them—plus salt, always crucial in yeast doughs. This can all be done straight in the stand mixer bowl.
Then, you add in about half the amount of flour (it doesn't have to be exact), and begin kneading using the dough hook. (You can also do this by hand, of course, though it takes a bit more work.) Gradually add in the rest of the flour. What you're looking for is a slack, slick dough that softly climbs the dough hook and doesn't stick to your fingers when pressed. If it's too soft and puddling in the bottom of your bowl, add flour a few tablespoons at a time until it's workable.
Leave the dough to rise for 1 ½ to 2 hours, until substantially increased in volume.
Preparing the filling
Towards the end of the dough's rising time, you can start on the filling. To make the filling for apfelschalet, you need 5-6 medium, sweet apples. They get cored and peeled, then sliced thinly. I usually slice them by hand with a chef's knife, but you can also use the slicing disc in a food processor for this task. (If I'm doing more than about 5-6 apples, I pull mine out.) The sliced apples are then tossed with almond flour, sugar, cinnamon, and, optionally, nutmeg (it's really good here, I recommend it) and raisins (it's good, though quite different, either way).
Assembling the apfelschalet and baking
When the dough has risen, you roll it out to a thin, large rectangle, about 24"x18" / 60x45 cm and about ⅛" /3-4 mm thick. You'll want to lightly flour you work surface, but otherwise, this is an easy-to-work dough that rolls out nicely and doesn't tend to stick. If it tears, which can happen, you can bunch it up and re-roll.
Starting at a long end, roll it up just as you would a jelly roll or babka. It will seem like the apple slices are too big to handle the rolling, but it will happen. Coil the finished roll into a circle, ends squished together, in a tube or bundt cake pan. If you don't have one, you can also use a regular round cake pan.
Brush your apfelschalet with a generous coating of egg wash (egg whisked with a teaspoon of water) and bake until deep golden, 45-50 minutes.
This cake slices better after it's cooled, but is wonderful warm (so, if you ask us, worth the mess!).
Looking for more fall bakes?
- Old Salem Pumpkin Muffins (dairy)
- Whole Wheat Harvest Challah with Cranberries and Pecans
- Savory Pumpkin Challah
- Israeli Apple Cake (parve)
Apfelschalet - Yeasted Apple Cake Roll (parve)
- Stand mixer fitted with dough hook
- Tube or bundt cake pan
Rich dairy-free yeast dough:
- 4 ¼ cups bread or all-purpose flour - 530 g
- 4 ½ tsp active dry or instant yeast - 14 g - 2 packets
- ½ cup warm water - 120 ml
- ½ cup granulated sugar - 100 g
- 1 cup oil - 240 ml
- 4 eggs
- 2 ½ tsp kosher salt
- 5-6 medium sweet red apples
- ¾ cup almond flour
- ¾ cup sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp nutmeg - optional
- ⅓ cup raisins - optional
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp water
Make the dough:
- Place the warm water in your stand mixer bowl and add the yeast. Stir to combine, then leave until foamy, about 5 minutes. (If using instant yeast, you can proceed immediately to the next step without waiting the 5 minutes.)
- Add the sugar, oil, eggs, and salt to the mixer bowl and whisk to combine.
- Add about half the flour to the bowl, then fit it onto the mixer and begin mixing on the lowest speed using the dough hook. Gradually add in the rest of the flour.
- Knead until a slack, shimmery dough forms that does not stick to your finger when poked. It will be oily but not sticky, and climb up the dough hook. If the dough is puddled in the bottom of the bowl, slowly add more flour until it is no longer sticky and climbing up from the bottom of the bowl.
Leave to rise:
- Remove the dough from the bowl and loosely form into a ball shape. Return to the bowl, cover tightly, and leave to rise in a warm place for 1 ½ to 2 hours, until substantially risen.
Make the filling:
- Towards the end of the dough's rising time, prepare the filling. Begin by coring and peeling the apples. Slice the apples into thin slices using a sharp knife or the slicing disc of a food processor. (I usually do this by hand.) Place the sliced apples in a large mixing bowl.
- To the bowl, add the almond flour, sugar, and cinnamon. Toss well to combine.
Assemble and bake:
- Preheat the oven to 350°F / 180°C. Grease a tube or bundt cake pan (see note if you don't have one).
- Roll out the dough on a floured surface into a large, thin rectangle, about 24"x18" / 60x45 cm. The dough is fairly stretchy and can be rolled down to about ⅛" / 3-4mm, but be careful to avoid tearing. If it does tear, you can re-roll it. This dough does not tend to stick to the work surface.
- Pour the slices apples out of the bowl onto the rolled-out dough and spread in an even layer almost to the edges.
- Beginning with a long edge, roll up the dough, jelly-roll-style.
- Pick up the whole roll and place it into the prepared pan with the edges touching.
- Brush the top generously with egg wash and place in the oven, baking for 45-50 minutes, until deep golden on top.