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A Fancy Hungarian Pastry-Apple, Walnut and Farmer’s Cheese Pie

by Arpad Nagy 11 days ago in recipe

Like Hungarians, it’s a little confusing and a touch complicated, but very delicious and unique treat

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Enter any legit Hungarian’s kitchen and peak in their refrigerator, and you will undoubtedly find two staples of Hungarian cuisine; sour cream and dry cottage (farmer’s) cheese. Both are used extensively.

We Hungarians are a unique breed. Our language-Magyar is documented as the second most difficult language to learn. This is partly because the root of the language is undetermined. Like the Hungarian people, where we came from has been long debated. We just “were” just as the language just “was.” Our Hungarian origins and language can be traced back to Mesopotamia and even as far back as the Annunaki. If history is true, then Hungarians are among the very first intelligent civilizations.

Hungarians are also a confusing bunch-just ask my Scottish/Irish wife. She’s been trying to figure me out for more than eighteen years! My surname, her married name, is a mere four-letter word she’s been working on since day one. She’s almost got it.

It’s not her fault, though. It’s the Hungarian alphabet. With 43 (or 44?) letters, 14 of which are vowels, pronunciation is critical. So, for a quick lesson, I will use my last name-Nagy. The “gy” is one letter of the alphabet. The sound is like the French word, “Deux but you have to slide in a “Jaa” like a toddler would say “Pajama’s” ahead of the “eux.”

It’s supposed to be “Nagy.” {Naw-jaaeaux). Not Nadge or Nudge. Not Naygee.

For your linguistic introduction to Magyar, please see the attached visual aids.

https://pin.it/2EolPwf

https://pin.it/7kDQuLp

For me, getting Canadians to say “Arpad” has been a lifelong challenge. I shan’t burden them with the excruciating tongue twister of my four-letter last name. It’s more than enough that my daughter nails Hungarian pronunciation. She knows her name.

Hungarian cuisine, like the language, is also confusing.

Hungarians love to eat so much that they often can’t decide whether to have dessert for supper or supper for dessert. Examples of this are our famous plum dumplings. This dish takes a whole plum, replaces the pit with a sugar cube, encase the plum in a ball of potato flour, boil, and dredge that in powder-soft sifted breadcrumbs. Upon serving, you cut the dumpling in half, releasing the bubbling, sugary sweet goodness of the plum, and then dust the whole thing with finely ground poppy seed and walnut and scatter icing sugar over that. That meal constitutes the main course of supper.

Another favorite is plain egg noodles tossed in butter, topped with cold sour cream and cottage cheese, and drizzled with freshly fried bacon bits and the bacon drippings, of course. This dish is Túróstésta. It’s actually profoundly good.

When my closest childhood friend, “Wolfy,” a good Canadian kid of solid Scottish stock, would come over for dinner (which was often), he would ask for this dish but renamed it “Heart attack pasta.”

What if you’re a busy Hungarian and would like a dish that combines your pasta, vegetable, and dessert in one serving? No problem. Kápostásztésta. This dish served on square egg noodles is cabbage that has been finely shredded and caramelized with sugar. Served over top of the noodles will be ground poppy seed and icing sugar. I can’t even explain how satisfying this meal is.

And so, my introduction to this recipe arrives at another confusing categorization of this dessert. Hungarians are not BIG on pies. We are big on cakes, though. Lots of cakes. We also have a plethora of excellent pastries and a cascade of incredible cookies.

After allowing this dessert to cool, I finally came down to plate up a slice and see how it turned out. First off, it is delicious, but then I began to wonder, “What is it, exactly? It’s a pie because of the pastry, but it’s also a cheesecake from the cottage cheese, but the walnut and apple make it seem much more like a lighter pastry. Even the name of the pastry is confusing to what you see as the finished product. To look at it, one would immediately state that it is a pie. The name, however, says “Torta, (torte),” which, as everyone knows, means “Cake.”

No matter how you categorize the finished product, it is a unique dessert with a baked apple and a cheesecake-like texture that’s kissed with vanilla and the essence of lemon. All finished with the crunch of walnuts.

I would say that this recipe is a little more complicated but not in difficulty; rather, it’s just a few additional steps in preparation.

Hungarian Apple-Walnut Cheese Pastry Pie-Almás-Diós Túróstorta

(The original recipe called for Pears, but I had Apples I needed to use up)

Ingredients

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2 Rounds of Flaky Pie Pastry.

4–5 Apples (or Pears)

2 eggs, large, separated

30 grams of butter

80 grams of walnuts, roughly chopped

250 dry cottage cheese or “farmer’s cheese” –I added mascarpone that I had in the fridge for additional creaminess, so my measurements were 200g of cottage cheese and 50g of mascarpone. Regular cream cheese would also work well if so desired.

Icing sugar, divided into two portions, one with 40 grams, the other with 80 grams

1 tablespoon of vanilla sugar, or 1 tablespoon of white sugar with the addition of 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Zest of 1 lemon

30 grams of raisins. Softened in hot water, then drained.

2 tablespoons, or the equivalent, officially recognized unit of the Hungarian kitchen — A “palm-full” of fine breadcrumbs.

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon Lebkuchen spice blend (optional-not required)

My recipe for the pastry dough and the Lebkuchen spice can both be found in this recipe- click here.

Method

Preheat oven to 390°f/200°c

Prepare the apples.

With your ingredients organized, begin by giving the apples a light warm-up. Melt the butter in a pan, then add the sliced apples, the tablespoon of vanilla sugar (or plain sugar with a teaspoon of vanilla extract, like I did), the cinnamon, and the Lebkuchen spice (if using). Gently warm the apples for a few minutes, mixing with the sugar and spice until well coated. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

Roll out the pastry dough into two rounds. Fill your pie dish with one, and pierce with a fork. Now scatter the fine crumbs across the base. Set aside for filling.

For the Filling.

In a bowl, combine the egg yolks, cottage cheese, lemon zest, the 80-gram portion of the icing sugar, and the softened and drained raisins. Add a teaspoon of vanilla extract. Whisk together until well combined.

Chef’s Tip; Because this cottage cheese isn’t exactly like the cottage cheese used in Hungary, and I wanted to have a bit more of a creamy texture, I added 50 grams of mascarpone that I happened to have in the fridge. I believe that regular cream cheese would also work nicely here.

In a stand mixer or separate bowl with a hand mixer, add the egg whites with a pinch of salt and whisk until soft white stage. Then add the 40g of icing sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form.

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Now, you want to add the whites in the egg yolk-cheese mixture, folding gently until well incorporated.

Pour egg-cheese filling in the bottom pie crust.

Now, lay the sliced and spiced apple over the top.

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Then scatter with the chopped walnuts.

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Roll out the top crust and cut out venting shapes. Roll over the top of the filling and pinch the pastry edges together.

Glaze the crust with beaten egg. Top with cut-out shapes on the crust and glaze those as well.

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Chef’s Tip (and mistake); for the golden pastry look, use only lightly beaten egg yolk for the glaze. I used a whole egg in my haste, and the crust remained a little lighter than I would have liked.

Place the pastry pie-cake on the lowest rack in your oven and bake for 35–40 minutes.

Remove from the oven and set on a wire rack to cool until ready to serve!

Chef’s note; This was my first attempt at this recipe, and having consulted with my mother, who confessed that she had never made this either, I would adjust a thing or two.

I would mix the walnuts with the cottage cheese and raisins and leave the apples on top.

Also, because of the dampness of the cheese mixture, I would probably pre-bake the bottom crust.

Otherwise, I am pleased with the outcome and have no complaints about the flavor or texture and will definitely make this again!

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Thanks in advance!

recipe

Arpad Nagy

1st generation Canadian-Hungarian

Father, Fly fisher, Chef, Reader, Leader, and working on writer.

Feedback appreciated anytime. Tips always appreciated.

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