Apple Sharlotka – Russian Apple Cake

January 16, 2015

in Cook What You Like, Tarts, Pies, Cakes

Apple Sharlotka 1Make a dessert that’s all about the apples and relaxed entertaining.

Apple Sharlotka can be served warm or at room temperature so you can bake it a few hours ahead or shortly before serving.

Sharlotka is the Russian cousin to Britian’s Apple Charlotte.  Charlotte is like a bread pudding that often lines rich bread or sponge fingers (ladyfingers) on the sides of the tin mold used to bake the Charlotte.  Sharlotka, on the other hand, is a simply-made sponge cake filled with apples – layers and layers of thinly sliced apples.  Not as glam as Char but equally as delicious and much less work for you.

Renditions of this cake abound in Eastern Europe.  A close relative is called Szarlotka in Poland.  A very basic sharlotka has just apples, eggs, sugar, and flour.   This version includes fresh lemon juice and ground cinnamon which are both added to the sliced apples to amplify the apple flavors.  Choose good-tasting apples with a tartness to them; mix and match varietals.

Start with beating the eggs and sugar for 5-10 minutes.  Like in most sponge cake recipes, no added fat or leavening required.  It is the extended beating time of the eggs that gives the cake it’s loft and sponge texture.  Gently fold in the flour and apples, sprinkle with almonds if using, then pop the cake into the oven to bake.  The Sharlotka takes 45-55 minutes freeing you up to do other things like relax with a glass of wine.

Dust with powdered sugar to dress up the cake’s looks.  This is an optional add-on for after one bite, you’ll understand that it’s about the apples.

Apple Sharlotka 2

Recipe: Apple Sharlotka – Russian Apple Cake

This cake can also be baked in a 9″ springform pan.  Increase the ingredients by one-third.


  • 3-4 tart apples (generous 3 cups sliced) such as McIntosh or Granny Smith
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds, optional
  • powdered sugar to finish, optional


  1. Prepare baking pan:  line the bottom with parchment paper and butter the sides of an 8″ springform pan.
  2. Prepare cake:  pare and core apples and cut into 4 wedges lengthwise.  Slice 1/4″ thick slices and cut slices so that they are not more than 1 1/2″ in any direction.  Test capacity by placing the sliced apples into the springform pan.  If the apples exceed the pan’s height, eat the difference.  Place apples into a bowl and sprinkle with lemon juice and cinnamon and mix well.  Set aside.
  3. In a medium large mixing bowl, combine granulated sugar and eggs.  Using a hand-held mixer, combine at low speed and then beat at high speed until ribbons form on the top of the mixture.  The mixture will be light yellow and thick.  This takes from 5-10 minutes depending on the mixer.
  4. Halfway through Step 3 above, preheat the oven to 350º F.
  5. When Step 3 above is complete, lower mixer speed to mix in vanilla extract.  Then, using a spatula or wooden spoon, fold in flour just until no dry streaks remain.  Do not overmix.
  6. Fold apples into the batter and try to coat the apples completely with the batter.  Carefully pour the whole business into the prepared pan and even the batter’s top.  The batter should not be higher than the pan’s rim.  If it is, gently push on batter to settle it.  Sprinkle top of batter with sliced almonds if using.
  7. Bake at 350º F:  bake in a preheated oven on the middle rack for 45-55 minutes.  The top will puff up and look golden brown early; test for doneness by inserting a butter knife into the center of the cake almost to the bottom cake.  If the knife comes out clean, then the cake is ready to be removed from the oven to cool on a wire rack.
  8. Finish: after cooling for 10-15 minutes, gently loosen the cake side by running a thin plastic knife or non-scratching utensil between the cake and springform pan sides.  Remove the pan sides.  Cool cake another 10-15 minutes before quickly inverting the cake on to a plate, peel off the parchment paper, and flip the cake right side up on to a serving plate.
  9. Serve cake warm or at room temperature.  Dust with powdered sugar if desired.  Like apple pie, the cake is best the day it is made.

Makes on 8″ cake.


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