I really tried hard to find anything about its origin but without any trace at all. I only find this: "....Hraběnčiny řezy...Czech traditional cake....time consuming, but exquisite..." So here you go :) It's a Czech traditional cake that requires a bit of effort and time but rewards you with incredibly amazing taste! Hraběnčiny řezy could be (literally) translated as Countess' cake. It's more like a pie but also a kind of coffee cake. I really don't know the right name for this in English - in Czech it's a type of buchta (a specific type of cake I have never met in English speaking countries). Simply it's a combination of pie and coffee cake :) The cake was introduced to my family by my mum's friend who's Slovak :D (sooo maybe it's a Czechoslovak traditional cake??). Since then we've been making this cake for a long time (although the original recipe has been changed and upgraded to become almost perfect according to my mum :D).
I'm not very keen on repeating the same recipes over and over again but what can I do? Daddy is a huge fan of sweets from time to time and he appreciates a lot when someone bakes for him. But! I'd bake French entremet, baklava, Croquembouche and dad would say:"And this time you're finally making a usual kind of cake?" My heart is broken :D Well, okay, it may not be THAT serious but it definitely doesn't make me the happiest girl in the world. That's why I have two recipes my daddy won't ask the question about: Hraběnčiny řezy and Jidášky (I'll post the recipe later this year :)).
My mum has been calling this cake Hraběnčin štrůdl (Countess' Strudel) - I somehow don't get it since it's not rolled like strudel at all. However, it can be found under other names, e.g. Hraběnčin koláč/buchta (Countess' pie or coffee cake). Nevertheless, it's all the same dessert no matter how you call it. Even a high and mighty countess would love this cake :D
The main differences me and my mum practise are: using more apples -in fact we double the amount - which makes it oh-so moist and juicy. Also, we use less sugar so that we can taste the apple flavour (don't worry, it's not sour :D). By the way, I use sugar in both apple filling and whipped egg whites layer unlike the more usual recipes which use sugar only in the whipped egg whites layer - this way we made it for the first time but the apples were very sour though they got sweeter after 24 hours it wasn't too much.So now we want to be sure :)
For the dough, I use the pasta frolla method to always end up with perfectly flaky dough that melts in your mouth. The BEST BEST part definitely is the grated dough on the top! Have I whetted your appetite for the cake?
480g (3 4/5 cups) all-purpose flour, sifted
160g (4/5 cup) caster sugar
12g (2 1/2 tsp) baking powder
250g (1 cup + 2 tbsp) cold butter, cut into tiny
4 egg yolks
60ml (1/4 cup) cold milk
1200g (c. 10 medium apples) grated apples (peeled+cored)
3 tsp ground cinnamon
60g (1/3 cup) caster sugar
40g (1/5 cup) organic vanilla sugar
100g (1 cup) chopped walnuts
Whipped Egg Whites:
4 egg whites
125g (1 cup) powdered sugar
Dough: Mix together sugar, flour and baking powder in a bowl. Add butter into the flour until the mixture has the consistency of coarse crumbs. You can do this in the bowl or on your work surface, using a knife and then your fingertips. Make a well in the center of the mounded flour and butter mixture and pour lightly beaten egg yolks and milk into it. Use a knife to incorporate the liquid into the solid ingredients, and then use your fingertips. Knead lightly until the dough comes together into a smooth solid ball. Wrap 1/3 of the dough in plastic wrap and place in your freezer. Place the rest of the dough in the refrigerator and chill for at least an hour.
Filling: In a bowl, combine apples, cinnamon and both sugars.
Whipped Egg Whites: Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form and then gradually beat in sugar till stiff peaks form again (about 5 minutes).
Assembly: Remove the dough from the fridge and roll out into the size of your baking sheet (30x40cm). The dough tends to fall apart when transfering, so cut it into smaller rectangles and put them together in the sheet again :) Don't forget to grease and flour the sheet! Make sure to create 3cm high edges. Spread the apple filling evenly over the dough, sprinkle with chopped nuts and spread with whipped egg whites evenly. Remove the dough from the freezer and coarsely grate it on the surface of the cake. Bake in preheated oven to 175C until lightly golden (about 30-40 minutes). Remove from oven, let cool completely and start devouring :D
- If your apples are extra sour, add more sugar to the filling. It's better to taste the filling to be sure it has the right level of sweetness.
- Feel free to use different kinds of nuts that have strong flavour: hazelnuts or pecans.
Based on the words written above, it's probably pretty clear this verdict is gonna be all about oooh and yummm :D No matter how hard I try to eat healthy, show me this cake and I can assure you half of it disappears inside of me within a few minutes. And after another couple of minutes, it's gone for good (and my stomach is aching) :D And when my dad joins me, this countess' goodness disappears in no time...immediately...just like that :D The baked dough is perfectly flaky, melt-in-your-mouth and creates a great partner for the apple filling. The smell of cinnamon pairs so well with apples and nuts add crunchiness. Since there are quite a lot of apples, the egg white layer is not that visible but it silkens the cake so much! Well, maybe I'm a bit exaggerating, it's just a cake, but sooooooo goooooood :D
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