The Heirloom Apple Pie-Cake


Ah…. couldn’t you just lose yourself in those dunes of dough?

With the form of a pie and the texture of a cake, this Russian Grandmothers’ Apple Pie-Cake from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan is just the sort of comforting fall dessert that almost makes you want to throw on a sweater and rake some leaves before you sit down at a sturdy wooden table and settle into a soft slice… preferably accompanied by a touch of creme fraiche, vanilla ice cream, lemon verbena ice cream, or even a glass of milk. Somehow, a traditional pie, with its crunchy crust, seems so harsh in comparison.


The pie-cake gave me a chance to show off the heirloom apples that I’d picked up at the Santa Monica Farmers Market that morning. I sampled each apple amidst my cutting and peeling — there were spicy Bellflowers, resonant Spitzenbergs, the most exuberant Fujis that I’ve ever had, subdued Hawk-Eyes, and zesty Annas. They were rounded out with golden raisins, sugar, cinnamon, lemon juice, and nutmeg (my own humble addition, out of habit, I suppose).

The Bellflowers from the See Canyon stand were my revelation of the day — when I tried a sample slice at the market, it tasted like it had been infused with cinnamon. So flavorful and alive. They’re rather large, oblong, and yellow-ish…


I originally wanted to make an infused liqueur to preserve that flavor, but they’re so delicate that they were pocked with too many little bruises for me to use them in good faith. So, into the pie-cake they went, while some hearty and singularly delicious Fuji apples became acquainted with the brandy.

As for the dough… Whenever I’m sizing up a dough or batter that I’ve never made before, I compare to another recipe that I know. I often think about my favorite basic cookie recipe — in which I simply combine butter with sugar, salt, and flour. It makes for a crunchy, buttery cookie. Since this dough is creamed and also has tenderizers such as baking powder, eggs, and lemon juice, I knew that it would turn out soft and tangy.

My baking dish was smaller than the prescribed one, so I piled the extra apples into my mini-pie dish, covered them with extra dough, and topped it with leftover crisp topping that I’d had in the freezer…

I hereby dub it the Apple Pie-Cake-Cobbler-Crisp.


9 Responses to “The Heirloom Apple Pie-Cake”

  1. Natalie Says:

    Hey Nina, nice to see you are still hard at it, both creating lovely desserts and faithfully keeping up your blog! Natalie

  2. Mimi Says:

    I’m so happy it’s apple season! We just got some great Fujis from our Farmer’s Market too. The apple pie cake looks wonderful. I love cake and my boyfriend loves pie so it would be a great compromise.

    I never comment on your blog although I come here often. I just want to say how much I appreciate what you do. The candy bars were wonderful! I always enjoy dropping by to see what you are up to.

  3. Nina Says:

    Natalie — Thank you — glad to have you stop by again.

    Mimi – Thank you so very much. I’ve actually been feeling a bit down about blogging recently, so your comment means a lot to me now.

    And more about candy bars will be coming up! It was too hot over the summer to work with chocolate in my kitchen, but I was able to start playing with them again this past week… 🙂

    I hope the pie-cake compromise works. 🙂 It’s funny about the Fujis — I bought mine mostly out of default, but they turned out to be among the best of the lot. I always jump at the chance to get new-to-me varieties of produce, but I have to keep telling myself that each piece fruit is different, regardless of its variety, and I should jump at whatever tastes good that day.

  4. fattypr Says:


    So it’s Ramadhan which means I’m fasting, and let me say I am glad I am checking this after sundown, otherwise the apple pie-cake looks so good that I think it would hurt me.

    And I was wondering why no posts recently; I thought maybe you were taking a personal vacation. I know I can’t tell you how to feel, but don’t be down about blogging! We love you!

  5. fattypr Says:

    and, btw, don’t forget it’s almost pomegranate season too!!!!

  6. Nina Says:

    fattypr – Aw, hope the pie-cake doesn’t cause any hurtin’.

    And we’ve had pomegranates at the markets already for the past couple of weeks! I have a pomegranate rum liqueur infusing, but I still want to bring to life the idea from last year to make a dessert w/ pomegranates and walnuts as a tribute to fesenjan…. 🙂 And maybe pears will be involved. I still have to figure it out.

    And thanks for the blogging encouragement. I think I just need to get a second — or is it third or fourth now? — wind. 🙂

  7. Chad Says:

    Yum! A pie that’s a cake! Delicious!

  8. Mansi Says:

    Nice name, and nice dish:) I made Apple and Pecan cobbler with lavendar a few das ago..came out well:) I’d like to invite you to participate in the AFAM-Peach event that I’m hosting on my blog this month. Pls check details onmy blog.

    and also, would you be interested in adding me to your blogroll? ‘b’coz I’m sure adding you to my list!:)

  9. Nina Says:

    Thank you, Mansi! I’ll try to put something together for the event.

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