Szarlotka or Traditional Polish Apple Pie, reduced sugar

Szarlotka or Polish Apple Pie //

In case you haven’t noticed it’s almost Pi Day! While I am not a huge pie fan (cake girl over here… actually make that cupcakes! Yum!) I do enjoy a pie once in a while. For example, I made a yummy Rustic Pear Apple Tart last year for Pi Day!

Unfortunately most commercial American pies are extremely sweet. Like, they are almost all sugar. That’s the main reason why I don’t eat them very much. I am used to eating less sweet baked goods – my mom has always reduced the sugar in recipes by a lot so my sensitivity to sweet foods is higher than most people. That doesn’t mean I don’t have a sweet tooth though. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you already know I love my sweets!

Szarlotka or Polish Apple Pie /

I wanted to share something a little different than the typical pie recipes you are probably seeing around the Web right now. Since I grew up in Poland, I love sharing this little piece of myself and my culture with you! I have already shared a few Polish recipes, made healthier than traditional, because truthfully, Polish food is not very healthy at all haha. But just as with any other cuisine, there are ways to tweak it to make it better for you!

This Polish Apple Pie is a traditional pie named Szarlotka. The only thing that is really different about it from the original recipe is the fact that I did not add any sugar when making the apple filling.

The original recipe called for ½ cup sugar but I personally think apples are already sweet as they are (especially once you cook them and let the juices flow, makes it even sweeter!) and I like the crisp and tart twang these apples can provide this lovely apple pie without the sugar. I think sugar would camouflage the true flavors of the apples. If you dislike tartness in your pie or you just like your pie very sweet, you are welcome to add up to ½ cup of sugar to the apple filling as it’s being cooked.

Szarlotka or Polish Apple Pie /

I thought this szarlotka turned out so great! There is a LOT of filling, which was perfect. I am also a huge fan of the crumble on top and the crust – it’s a very typical and traditional crust recipe but it is just so good. There are a lot of Polish cakes that involve making a crumbly topping like this and I’m thinking I might try making more Polish cakes in the near future. The only thing stopping me is that making the crust is a little tedious as you have to make sure you do not make the dough warm by overly touching it with your hands. You have to work very fast once you get to rolling the dough out.

Szarlotka or Polish Apple Pie /

Szarlotka or Polish Apple Pie /

Szarlotka or Polish Apple Pie /

This recipe was slightly adapted from Gziki Pyry. Even if you don’t speak Polish you should check out the blog just for the photography – it is breathtaking!

Szarlotka or Polish apple pie //

Also check out our honey szarlotka recipe with nuts and raisins – it’s yummy!

Szarlotka or Traditional Polish Apple Pie, reduced sugar

Szarlotka or Traditional Polish Apple Pie, reduced sugar


    For the filling
  • 5-6 large apples
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2-3 Tbsp water
  • 1 Tbsp potato flour/starch (or corn starch)
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • For the Crust and Crumble Topping
  • 1.5 cup all-purpose flour (we used Ultragrain Blend)
  • 1/4 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 Tbsp applesauce
  • 2 eggs (yolk and whites separated)
  • 1 tsp baking powder


    For the Filling
  • Watch and peel the apples. Grate them using the large holes on a grater.
  • Put the grated apples in a pot, add spices, lemon juice, and water.
  • Cook uncovered on small/medium heat, stirring once in a while.
  • The apples will be cooking for a good while, I think ours took 15 minutes or so?
  • Once the apples are cooked through, add the potato flour and vanilla extract constantly stirring to prevent lumps from forming. If you see any lumps forming, take them out.
  • Take the apple filling off heat and let cool completely (or at least close to it).
  • Preparing the dough
  • Sift flour combined with confectioners sugar and baking powder onto a large surface.
  • Add cut up chilled butter, egg yolks, applesauce and begin combining everything.
  • Try not to use your hands because we want this dough to remain as cold as it can. We begun the combining by cutting the butter up into tiny pieces while it was on the flour using a knife. Once everything was in smaller pieces, we used our hands to roll it out into a harder dough.
  • Divide the dough into 1/3 and 2/3.
  • Roll each part in plastic foil and put in the freezer for 30 minutes. The dough is to remain very cold but not frozen.
  • Preheat oven to 355 degrees F.
  • Assemble the pie
  • Once the dough has been in the freezer and cooled, take out the larger part, cut it into small slices.
  • Spray your round cake form with cooking spray. (ours was 23 cm diameter)
  • Put the dough slices on the bottom of the pan and feel it out to form a crust that covers the bottom as well as the sides of the pan (it doesn’t have to go up super high, ours didn’t).
  • Coat the unbaked crust with remaining egg whites to prevent the apple filling from seeking through the crust.
  • Add the apple filling and spread it out evenly using a spoon.
  • Take out the other part of the dough from the freezer and grate it on a large hole grater over the top of the pie. This is the crumble topping.
  • Bake in 355F for 45 minutes.
  • Let cool and enjoy!

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    • Kammie says

      Every time I post a Polish recipe, I think of you and your hubby! :) Thank you dear! I’m sure he’ll love it. If he likes apples, he will definitely enjoy this!

  1. says

    Szarlotka is, without a doubt, one of my favorite Polish snack recipes, but the recipe that my mom bakes with is so ridiculously unhealthy and delicious that we really have to limit how often we make it. I love the sound of your recipe, and I’ll definitely be filing it away for the next time the apple pie craving strikes.

    • Kammie says

      Yayyy! I know, the “real” traditional recipes can be pretty intense. Delicious! but intense and so not healthy. Sigh, but that’s why it’s made with special occasions in mind! Gotta love celebrations haha. I hope you try this one out next time, I think you will really like it!

  2. Yaara Leve says

    That looks so damn good! And I don’t know if I’ve mentioned before but you’re a great photographer. Really. You have an eye for intricate detail and lighting. You can tell you’re an artist.

  3. says

    I always wondered where the English dessert Apple Charlotte got its name. I reckon it is a bastardisation of the word Szarlotka and that the inspiration for the English dessert actually came from this one. Looks yum! I too never sweeten apple pies, or at least, very little (depends on the type of apple I use).

    • Kammie says

      I wasn’t aware of the the dessert Apple Charlotte. I’m sure one or the other got the inspiration from one of the names. That’s awesome, thanks for letting me know, I will be sure to check that dessert out as well. I definitely think fruit are sweet enough on their own, I feel like usually sugar camouflages the true flavor of the fruit in a pie. I’m glad you agree! Thanks for coming by :)

  4. says

    I’m totally with you on American pies…heck, MOST American desserts…they are just TOO sweet! While I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, I can appreciate a good, quality dessert, but I just don’t want to feel like I’m slipping into a diabetic coma afterwards! I’ve literally felt dizzy after taking just one bite of a traditional American dessert! That’s ridiculous!

    I’ve always been intrigued by German desserts because I know most of them involve a lot less sugar…I’ve actually got a co-worker from Germany who is working on converting a recipe for me over to English/standard measurements that I can’t wait to try…it’s for a chocolate chip spice cake. She brought it to work a few months ago and it was love at first bite! :)

    • Kammie says

      I love German desserts actually but this one is Polish, my dear. Some of my family lives in Germany and I visited twice when I was a kid and I LOVED being there each time. The atmosphere is just so great, it’s definitely one of my favorite places. I haven’t been there since I was 10 or so though :( Their chocolate is RIDICULOUSLY good. the first time my mom sent me to visit my aunt in Germany, I left a skinny child not even liking sweets very much… and I came back chubby. Literally after a month or so there I fell in love with chocolate and my mom said she was really surprised to see how chubby I got and how my taste preferences changed. Ever since, I was never skinny as I used to be again haha. A little side story for ya! lol

    • Kammie says

      Yess! If you husband loves pie, I’m sure he will LOVE this one! There is just SO much filling, it’s perfect! Plus the crust is so good! Thanks for stopping by, dear :)