Polish apple cake (Szarlotka)

Polish apple cake (Szarlotka)

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(6 ratings)


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Cooking time

Prep: 35 mins Cook: 1 hr plus freezing

Skill level



Serves 12

This traditional spiced cake is served with a cinnamon whipped cream and a dusting of icing sugar

Nutrition and extra info

Nutrition info

Nutrition per serving

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For the filling

  • half a lemon
  • 6 large Bramley or cooking apples
  • 4 tbsp soft brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon

For the dough

  • 450g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 200g unsalted butter, cut into pieces, plus extra for greasing
  • 225g golden caster sugar
  • 3 egg yolks, plus 1 whole egg, at room temperature
  • 1 tbsp natural yogurt
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest (from the half a lemon, above)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

To serve

  • icing sugar, for dusting
  • 300ml pot whipping cream
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

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  1. Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Grease and line a 20 x 29cm baking tray with baking parchment.
  2. For the filling, zest the lemon half and leave aside for the dough. Peel, core and thinly slice the apples, then squeeze over the juice of the lemon to stop the fruit turning brown. Put the apples in a large pan and add the sugar, 200ml water and cinnamon. Cook for 5 mins, then remove from the heat and leave to cool in the liquid (you’ll need this later).
  3. To make the dough, put the flour and baking powder in a food processor or into a large bowl and pulse or stir to combine. Add the butter and mix again until the mixture is sandy. Add the sugar, egg yolks and egg, yogurt, lemon zest and vanilla extract and mix into a dough. Tip it out onto a floured surface. Bring it together with your hands and roll it into a ball.
  4. Split the dough in half, wrap one half in cling film and freeze for 1 hr. Roll out the other dough half so that it is big enough to fill the bottom of the lined tray. With the palm of your hand, push the dough about halfway up the sides of the tray until the whole base is covered. Prick the dough with a fork and bake in the oven for about 15 mins until it is golden and lightly springy to the touch.
  5. Spoon over the apple filling, with about half the cooking liquid, then set aside.
  6. Remove the dough from the freezer and coarsely grate, as you would a block of cheese. Sprinkle the grated dough over the apples and bake for 40-45 mins until it is golden and the topping has cooked through. Leave to cool completely, dust with icing sugar, then cut into squares. Whip the cream until thick, stir in the cinnamon and serve alongside the cake.

Recipe from Good Food magazine, January 2014

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Show comments
MissPossum's picture
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This is an interesting recipe. It's not cake and not a pastry but somewhere in between. It is quite time consuming to make compared to a normal apple cake but has a very pronounced apple flavour and tastes delicious with cream. I used 6 Granny Smith apples and the amount of sugar stated in the recipe and thought it was the perfect balance.

jillybonbon's picture

More of a pudding than a cake but absolutely delicious! Even when completely cold mine tended to disintegrate so needed a fork and spoon to eat. I can't understand the previous comments re sweetness. I used the brown sugar to cook the apples, (I used 6 Bramleys and the amount was perfect) but I halved the sugar in the dough and it was perfect. It was a bit time consuming and I forgot the vanilla essence, think if I make it again I will try and halve the recipe and make a smaller cake.

susiev22's picture
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Time-consuming but absolutely delicious!

Luter82's picture
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6 large Bramley or cooking apples is compleately wrong!! You can fit maximum 3 apples in a 20 x 29cm baking tray.
Also, as suggested by others, apples need to be sweetened somehow.
The other thing is not clear in this recipe is how can you actually cook 6 large apples with 200 ml of water......
I suggest to use more water or use 200 ml and use a large pot, so that you can stir the apples and cook all of them equally.

bionicwoman's picture
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Lovely recipe and just the right amount of sweetness to let the tartness of the apples come through for me.
I made this as a treat for my Polish plasterer who said that it was really authentic - and could he have the recipe for his girlfriend please!
I'll be making this again - thanks.

sllyst's picture

Was a bit disappointed initially with this cake on it's own, it's lacking sweetness but served it with half fat creme fraiche instead of cream and it was transformed!

jmalanga1981's picture

Made this today but forgot to read the bit about serve when cooled. Served it warm from the oven and hence it was very difficult to work with. The pastry was lovely in texture (almost cakey) and flavour but not overly sweet. Be warned though, you may need to add extra sugar to the apples as the cooking apples I used were extremely tart!!! This may have been counteracted by a dusting of icing sugar but I doubt it. I will try this again and serve it when cold but definitely not something to eat when warm........serve an apple crumble instead.

louisemswan's picture
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This is a fabulous recipe, I have made it using apples as per the recipe and also using homemade mincemeat at Christmas time which was perfect too. I use a swiss roll tin and it makes 12 generous portions so great for a dinner party.