Sharlotka is light, fluffy, moist and delicious. It's a basic apple sponge cake made with only 5 simple ingredients. An easy cake to whip up at the last minute when guests pop over unannounced for tea. Simple and unpretentious, a classic Russian dessert.
This is my wife Rita's Sharlotka recipe, and I'm grateful she shared the recipe and baked it all for me. Apples and cinnamon are an amazing combination together, and this recipe gets that balance perfectly. The apples aren't coated in cinnamon and sugar like they are in a pie, but are delicately sprinkled on top of the cake just before serving. The flavours aren't overpowered, but are separate and complement each other.
Why You'll Love This Recipe
- Easy apple cake - made with only 5 ingredients
- No complicated ingredients - pantry ready ingredients
- Rustic and simple with the perfect balance of cinnamon
- Budget friendly and economical
Sharlotka was created by a French chef Marie Antoine Careme. Made in honor of the wife of Tsar Alexander I of Russia. Initially called Charlotte a la Parisienne, and then became Charlotte Russe, before Sharlotka. There are many different versions of this recipe, some using lady fingers, others crushed cookies. This recipe is the simple baked apple cake version. In Poland, this recipe is known as Szarlotka, and is made differently.
I remember my grandmother baking Sharlotka cake. She always served it with cream and without cinnamon sugar topping. Recipes from the old country were never drenched in sugar like most modern recipes.
Babushka also never flipped her cake upside down. She always poured the batter over the apples, baked it, and served it as it came out of the oven, right side up. Sharlotka's are commonly sprinkled with icing sugar which looks nicer when serving. However, adding cinnamon over the baked apples really elevates this cake recipe.
What Apples Are Best for Apple Cake?
Traditionally, tart apples are used for baking. However, I prefer the new sweeter varieties that have been cultivated. You can even mix a sweet and tart apple together for enhanced apple flavors. Here are some suggestions;
- Antonovka Apples - a classic Russian apple, difficult to find outside Eastern Europe
- Granny Smith Apples - a popular tart baking apple (too tart for me)
- Bramley Apples - a tart-sour apple popular in the UK
- Fuji Apples - Japanese developed apple that tastes like sweet apple juice
- Golden Delicious Apples - sweet like honey, with a bit of spice
- Pink Lady Apples - refreshing sweet-tart apple
- Gala Apples - sugary sweet apple, great for eating
- Honey Crisp Apples - balance between sweet and tart, with an amazing crunch
Equipment You'll Need
- Springform Pan
- Parchment Paper (baking paper)
- Electric Mixer
How to make Sharlotka
There's a delicate balance of getting the apple and batter ratio correct. Adding too many apples and the cake will fall apart. Too few apples, and it's just a glorified sponge cake. That being said, this is an apple cake, so we use 5 apples. It seems like a lot of apples, but they do shrink as they cook down, making just the right amount.
- Line a 9x3 round cake pan or springform pan with parchment paper. Butter or spray both the paper, and the sides of the pan
- Chop the apples into thin pieces and place inside the springform pan
- Beat eggs and sugar until dissolved, about 5 minutes
- Gently mix in flour until batter is thick and smooth
- Pour batter over apples, spreading evenly
- Bake in a 350°F/180°C oven for 40-50 minutes
- Allow to cool for 10 minutes
- Carefully flip cake upside down, remove pan and parchment paper
- Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and serve with thickened cream or ice cream
How Long Does Sharlotka Last?
It depends on how you store it. I use an airtight container and place it in the fridge for about 5 days without any problems. It also freezes well. Wrap the apple cake in plastic cling wrap first, then place it in a Ziploc bag into the freezer. I think it should be made and eaten on the same day when possible!
- Use what ever apples you have, even if they getting softer, they are still good to use for baking
- Don't rush the cooking time, or the centre will remain raw
- Instead of apples, add pears or plums
- It's not a mistake, there is no baking powder in this recipe, trust me, you don't need to add any!
- When adding the flour to the batter, don't use an electric mixer. Gently mix it in with a wooden spoon. If using a mixer, you can over beat the batter, resulting in a dense cake.
- Instead of thickened cream, serve with a dollop of sour cream sweetened with sugar
Autumn Apple Recipes You'll Love
This Sharlotka Apple Cake is a simple, quick and delicious cake to whip up at a moment's notice. My wife has been baking Sharlotka Apple Cake for 20 years and it's a tried and true family favorite. Simple food done well, is perfection. Bon Appetit! Приятного аппетита!
- Springform Pan
- Parchment Paper
- Butter or nonstick spray for greasing pan
- 5 large apples
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 teaspoon real vanilla extract
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- cinnamon sugar to top your cake before serving optional
- Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C. Line a 9x3 round cake pan or springform pan with parchment paper. Butter or spray both the paper, and the sides of the pan.
- Peel and core the apples. Chop in quarters, then slice into thin, bite size pieces.
- Place the apples into the buttered cake pan.
- Using a mixer, beat the eggs and sugar in a bowl until the sugar dissolves (around 5 minutes). Mix in the vanilla.
- Gently add the flour and mix with a spoon until batter is thick and smooth.
- Pour batter over the apples in the cake pan, spreading it evenly. Gently shake the pan to allow the batter to settle.
- Bake in the oven for 40-50 minutes. Check cooking time at 40 minutes with a toothpick to see if cake is ready (Some ovens this is enough cooking time).
- When cake is ready, allow to cool on a baking tray for 10 minutes.
- Using a knife, run along sides of the cake pan. Carefully flip upside down. Peel off the parchment paper, revealing the apple base (now the top of your cake).
- Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar to taste. Serve with thickened cream or vanilla ice cream.