Polish Szarlotka Cake

It's like a mix between an apple cake and an apple pie, only I made it with persimmons.

Polish Szarlotka Cake

I could write a long introduction here about the origin of the szarlotka cake (probably Austria), or the botanical taxonomy of persimmon. Are all persimmons kakis but not all kakis persimmons? Or is it the other way around? Or are they synonymous? (Persimmon is just an English word for the group of fruits of which the Japanese kaki is the most cultivated one.) And it's not really a fruit, it's a berry. But you know what, let's put all that aside and instead we bake.

This is the cake. Instructions in Polish, but you'll get the point

For the filling

  • 1,5 kilo kakis
  • 5 grams of cinnamon
  • 3 cloves freshly crushed into a fine powder
  • 1 large lemon
  • 65 grams of sugar
  1. Find kakis that aren't too mature, nor too immature. It's a fine balance here. If they're completely  mature and very soft, the texture won't be perfect. If they're not mature at all, they'll be all crispy and give you a strange bitter sensation in the mouth. Press it gently, it should be like a firm tomato.
  2. Peel all the kakis. A good way is to cut off the top where the hard green leaves are, and then use a potato peeler to peel the fruit (berry).
  3. Cut in halv, and pit it by cutting out the middle part. This part often gives a bitter taste, so don't be lazy.
  4. Cut into about 2-3 cm pieces.
  5. Add the lemon juice, pulverized cloves (use a mortar), cinnamon and sugar. Combine.
  6. In a large pot, under a lid, you simmer about 3/4 of the spiced kakis. Set aside the rest, we'll be using it later. Make sure to stir every now and then, so it doesn't stick to the bottom.
  7. After about 40 minutes, remove the lid and let it simmer for another 15 minutes (maybe longer), to make sure a lot of the liquid evaporates. You're left with a nice thick sauce.
  8. Let cool.
  9. But while doing number 7 in this list, you're not supposed to be lazy. You have more to do… Move to the next step while waiting…

The dough

  • 250 grams of good white flour (What does regular mean, you ask? A good white organic unbleached flour)
  • 50 grams of rye flour for the flavor
  • 250 grams of very cold butter straight from the fridge
  • 60 grams of sugar
  • 5 grams of vanilla paste, if you can get a hold of that. Or the inside of 2 vanilla pods scraped out.
  • 5 grams of salt
  • 1 large egg (that's about 80 grams)
  1. Mix all dry ingredients including the sugar.
  2. Cube the cold butter and place into the dry ingredients.
  3. Use a stand mixer preferably, or use your hands. You want to mix the cold butter with the dry ingredients until you have a texture of sand. Like damp sand.
  4. Now add the egg, and keep kneading/mixing. You'll end up with a dough.
  5. Cut the dough in two equally big cylinders (like… Long balls)
  6. Put into plastic bags, and place into freezer for about an hour.

The baking

  • Two balls of frozen dough
  • A thick kaki puré that has cooled somewhat
  • Fragrant pieces of kaki, covered in sugar and cinnamon (the ones I told you to set aside until later… It's now later)
  • Sheet of gold (just kidding… But really, you can put some cold on it if you want to make it extra fancy)
  • A lot of powdered sugar
  1. Set the oven to 180 C.
  2. Prepare a deep dish pan by lining it with a baking sheet. I recommend you make a ball out of the paper, that way it'll be easier to shape inside the pan.
  3. Take out one of the dough balls, and cut them into 0,5-1 cm slices.
  4. Place the slices evenly across the baking sheet in the deep pan.
  5. Use the last pieces you've cut, to cover any holes in the pie base. Now use your fingers to press down, making a uniform dough base. Try not to work it too much, you want it to remain cold.
  6. Spread the kaki puré evenly across the base.
  7. Spread the kaki pieces over the puré.
  8. Take the second dough ball out of the freezer, and grate it on the thicker side of your grater. Spread the grated dough on top of the cake or pie or whatever you want to call it.
  9. Place in middle of oven for 5o minutes until the top has slightly browned but not too much, it's supposed to have structural integrity so you can hold a piece in your hand, but still soft to the mouth.
  10. After 50 minutes, take it out and let it cool. It will firm up when cooled.
  11. Cut into squares.
  12. Use a sieve to sprinkle powdered sugar on top of the square just before serving (some just dust it all with powdered sugar right off the bat, but it tends to melt and just looks bad after a while, especially the day after if you plan on saving some cake in the fridge over night)
  13. Now take out your sheet of gold. It has zero calories, zero nutrients, you'll just shit it out. But it looks pretty. Use tweezers to pick it up, and place it on each square. Use a clean brush to push the gold onto the cake and make it stick. This is completely optional. The rest in this recipe is not.