Every year I make this amazingly aromatic and deliciously delicate confection based on only 3 ingredients – thick apple puree, honey and egg white. In traditionally Russian version of this natural product special type of apples “Antonovka” are baked to obtain thick puree, rich with pectin. In our world, Granny Smith apples are the closest alternative, though apple puree from these apples has to be reduced in half, compared to fresh apple pieces weight. The recipe is already published (see here), but this year I made several small changes to the recipe and the process of pastila preparation, which are significant enough to make a separate post about it.
The differences in ingredients included the use of puree from frozen raspberries and dry glucose power for the surface treatment of the final product. Traditionally icing sugar is rubbed into pastila to make its surface completely dry, but as I can’t use sugar, I always had a problem when making pastila as a present for a person with intolerance to any dry sugar. Since the discovery that glucose powder can be tolerated my life became so much easier in cases when dry sweetener achieves better results, compared to honey.
Differences to the original recipe
- addition of raspberry pulp
- glucose powder for pastila surface treatment
- larger quantity of the mixture was reserved for further application between layers
- three separate slabs of fruit, honey and egg white mixture were baked instead of one, to be cut later in three
- assembled pastila as final, three layers product, was stored in air-tight container for 4 weeks (up to 8-9 weeks) refrigerated for the structure to become more resistant to slicing
- 1000g Granny Smith apples, peeled and cored
- 1 tea spoon lemon juice
- 170g raw organic honey
- 50g of raspberry pulp/puree
- 1 egg white
- pure glucose powder (for those of you who can tolerate sugar use icing sugar)
Pastila can be made with regular sugar instead of honey, use 170g of granulated or caster sugar. Photo below from last year pastila made both with sugar and honey, shows the difference in their colour. Sugar pastila has lighter colour.
I will not describe the process of pastila preparation all over again in minute detail (it can be found here), but only touch upon the differences in the recipe. However, the set of step by step photographs below, shows the whole process of pastila preparation.
- when concentrating apple puree, reduce its weight to 450g, instead of 500g, it will be a very thick apple puree
- defrost frozen raspberries
- put them through a sieve to remove pips
- add 50g of raspberry puree to thick apple puree, to make total fruit puree weight 500g
- reserve more, 2 or even 2 and a half cups of beaten mixture, cover it and store refrigerated until needed
- beat the remaining mixture for 2-3 minutes more, it will still increase in volume
- mark 3 rectangle shapes with a pencil on 2/3 sheets of baking paper 28-30cm x 12cm
- turn baking paper on the other side
- place equal quantity of mixture into each rectangle
- using the ruler, or other flat and narrow object, and spatula spread the mixture within rectangle
- make their surfaces flat and smooth
- bake as in original recipe 3 hours in fan forced oven on 2/3 levels for 3 hours in 100C
- take the trays from the oven, turn each slab upside down, place cold wet tea towel over, let it stay there for 5-10 minutes, peel the paper off
- bake on the other side for 3 hours
- second time around the paper peels easily without wet towel application
- assemble all three baked layers one over another and apply reserved portion of unbaked mixture between them
- bake for another 2 hours
- leave fully baked pastila to rest and cool down in the oven overnight
- sprinkle glucose powder over pastila, rub it gently into all surfaces
- brush the excess off
- place pastila in air-tight container and refrigerate for 3-4-5 weeks
- to have the best cut use long serrated bread knife, the cut is best done in 2 goes, if you can manage it
- wash and wipe the knife after each slice, that will give you a clean cut without squashing pastila
- if packing pastila presents in advance, place the box in a zipped plastic bag and refrigerate
It will ensure the gift will reach its destination in perfect condition, both texture and taste wise. The taste actually gets better with storage. Raspberry pulp added and extra dimension to pastila taste and colour. It takes time and a lot of effort to make this delicious product, but it is for Christmas and it makes all preparations more special and puts me in a joyful festive mood.