One of the easiest and most elegant desserts in my recipe collection is for a Bavarian Apple Torte. Not really a torte, more like a cheesecake, this creation starts with a buttery, shortbread crust that slides to a creamy, luscious filling topped with al dente tart-sweet apples in a cinnamon, almost caramel coating, and finishes with a nutty richness.
This is the type of dessert one often associates with an old-fashioned sewing circle or tea served at the Ritz. Indeed, my introductory bite was three decades ago in Bangor at the Tarratine Club. Although I don’t remember much about the nature of the event at this private social club founded by Hannibal Hamlin, I still recall noshing on the delicious pastry.
There are several variations of the recipe, including ones advertising butter by Land-O-Lakes and cream cheese by Philly. These preparations are all basically the same: a flour, sugar and butter crust, cream cheese and sugar filling, and thinly sliced apples coated with cinnamon and sugar.
This is not a cake that can be prepared two hours before serving, as it needs time to set up; overnight is really best. A springform pan works well for baking the cake and then removing it to a serving plate. No springform pan, or one too large or small? No worries, any shape or size pan will work. Just be sure to adjust the cooking time accordingly, and keep checking the oven.
Bavarian Apple Torte is perfect for entertaining, as it keeps well for several days in the refrigerator. It can even be frozen! Plus the torte is so rich, only a small slice is needed to satisfy the sweet tooth.
Nut allergies? Leave them out. This is a good dessert to highlight some of Maine’s heritage apples. Northern Spy, Black Oxford, Golden Russet, Rhode Island Greening, even Cortland apples will be delicious.
BAVARIAN APPLE TORTE
There are several variations of the recipe for this elegant dessert. Easy to prepare, this torte can also be frozen.
½ cup butter
1/3 cup sugar
¾ teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour
To prepare the crust: Combine the ingredients in the bowl of your food processor or use a pastry blender to cut the butter into the flour and sugar. Stir in the vanilla. Pat the crust into a greased, 9-inch springform pan. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
1 8-ounce package cream cheese or local goat cheese, at room temperature
¼ cup sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla
To prepare the filling: Without washing the bowl of your food processor, add the cream cheese, sugar and egg. Process until smooth. Add the vanilla. Or mix in the bowl of your electric mixer. Pour the batter into the prepared springform pan.
4 cups peeled, cored and sliced apples (about 4 large apples)
1/3 cup sugar
¼ cup sliced almonds or walnuts (optional)
To prepare the topping: In a large bowl, coat the apples with the sugar and cinnamon. Arrange the apples on the top of the filling.
To prevent drips in the oven, place the springform pan on a cookie sheet and bake in a 400-degree oven for 45 minutes. Lower the oven to 350 degrees and sprinkle the top with the nuts. Continue baking until it is just set, about 10-15 more minutes. Let cool completely, even overnight, before serving.
Makes 12 servings.
Nutritional analysis per serving: 288 calories, 3.6 grams protein, 34.8 grams carbohydrates, 16 grams fat, 139 mg. sodium, 2.4 grams fiber.