Romanian Apple Pie (Placinta cu Mere)
Makes one 9-by-13-inch pie
For the Filling
- 18 ounces grated apples
- Zest and juice of 2 small lemons
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 2 ounces sultanas or raisins, optional
- 2 ounces walnuts, chopped, optional
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the Dough
- 2 cups (8 ounces) all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons oil
- 1 medium size egg
- Scant 1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) sour cream or crème fraîche
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- Melted butter, for brushing
Make the filling: In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the grated apples, zest and juice of the lemons, and honey. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook together on medium heat for 5 to 10 minutes, until the juices reduce by a quarter. Don’t stir too often, so the apples don’t turn mushy. Allow the mixture to cool while you are making the dough.
Make the dough: In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment, combine the flour, oil, egg, and sour cream or crème fraîche. Knead by hand or with the dough hook for 3 minutes. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and invert the bowl over the dough to cover it, allowing to rest for 15 minutes.
Sprinkle the baking soda on top of the dough and knead for another 3 minutes, then allow to rest as above for another 15 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.
Divide the dough into two equal halves. Roll one half to approximately the size of the baking pan, flouring the work surface very lightly while rolling as needed. Then nestle the dough into the baking pan, gently stretching it across the bottom with your fingertips to reach into all the corners and along the sides, creating a flat layer on the bottom.
Add the cinnamon, sultanas or raisins (if using), walnuts (if using), and vanilla or almond extract to the filling and mix together. Distribute the filling evenly on top of the dough in the baking dish.
Roll and stretch the other half of dough and place it on top of the filling, again stretching it as above. Brush with a bit of melted butter and bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until it turns a light golden color.
Allow to cool and cut into slices, dusting with powdered sugar to serve.