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20.10.12

HUNGARIAN APPLE SQUARES - ALMÁSPITE



Almáspite is a soft, moist pastry slice; a true Hungarian classic. This is the only fruit filled confectionary I do not put Fruit Fresh into. I love how the golden brown apple filling looks between the soft pastry layers. I have been dreaming of them since I made the plum squares last month. Then yesterday’s weather forecast for the night was a little under zero, so Jim picked the apples, leaving only a few on top of the tree. The birds will need them when the snow comes. So the first thing I made this morning, even before I had my breakfast, was a nice big flat of almáspite. Jim said that it really agreed with him. As for me, I died and gone to heaven.
I used a large rimmed baking sheet, but for a 9X12 inch baking pan I would cut the ingredients in half. It is possible to make the squares with a thicker apple layer, but the true Hungarian almáspite is a fairly flat square.
*The apple juice should be drained off, but not discarded. 2 kg of grated apple yielded me 3 cups of pure apple juice. I froze it, labelled it and will use it for baking whenever the recipe calls for apple juice. Or drink it up, it is a delicious juice, but it cannot be kept for longer than a day or two before it goes bad. To preserve apple juice you have to boil it, and I would rather leave the juice fresh. Grating the apples is the surest way to remove the juice. After the juice is removed, you don’t need any thickeners for the filling, not only that, you will be adding the juice of half a lemon to it.

Pastry:
3-3/4 cups flour
3/4 cup butter, soft
2/3 cup sugar
1 pkg. vanilla sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
finely grated rind of 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup sour cream
1 egg

Apple Filling:
8-10 apples
2 Tbsp sugar
juice and finely grated rind of 1/2 lemon
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

For Assembling The Squares:
2 handfuls of fine breadcrumb
1 egg, lightly beaten

• Rub the butter into the flour, dispersing it throughout.
• Add the sugar, vanilla sugar, salt, baking powder and finely grated rind of half a lemon.
• Whisk them together to combine.
• In a small bowl combine the sour cream and the egg with a fork.
• Add to the flour mixture and stir to combine.
• Kneed the dough for a couple of minutes and then wrap it up with plastic wrap.
• Place in the fridge.
• Meanwhile prepare the apple filling.
• Wash and peel the apples.
• If using windfalls, cut out the centers and all the blemished parts. You may have to cut the apples into pieces to do this. Grate the healthy apple chunks into a large bowl.
• If using healthy apples, grate them until reaching the cores. Discard the cores.
• By now there is a pool of apple juice in the bottom of the bowl.
• Transfer the grated apple into a large [fine] sieve.
• Take a handful of grated apples and squeeze out the juice and place the squeezed out grated apple into a clean bowl. Save the apple juice and use it for some other purpose.*
• Add the sugar, lemon rinds and the fresh lemon juice and stir to combine.
• Preheat the oven to 400F.
• Cut two pieces of parchment about the size of the baking pan.
• Place both piece of parchment paper on the board.
• Remove the dough from the fridge and divide it into two equal pieces.
• Place a piece of dough on both parchment papers.
• Press them into rectangles.
• Sprinkle the top with flour and roll out both pieces of dough to fit the parchment papers. You may have to cut away bits of dough and add to other parts to fit the parchment papers.
• Grasping the parchment, move one of the rolled dough and place it into the baking pan. [with the parchment paper on the bottom.]
• Poke the pastry with a fork at intervals.
• Now lightly scatter 2 handfuls of fine breadcrumbs on the top.
• Spread the prepared apple fill on the pastry layer.
• Grasping the parchment, take the second rolled out pastry and place it on top of the apple filling, but this time with the parchment on the top. Remove the parchment paper and discard.
• With a pastry brush, brush the beaten egg yolk onto the top. [there will be considerable leftover egg]
• Poke the top with a fork and place in the preheated oven.
• Bake until top is golden brown.
• Yields 28 squares
 

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