Apple, Walnut, and Poppy Seed Bars

Flodni

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Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Makes

    12

    large bars

Appears in

Flodni are tall, triple-layer bars—a hearty, delicious snack created by the Jews of Hungary. The same dough and fillings can be rolled into cylinder shapes, in which case they are called kindli. To keep the kitchen kosher, many Jewish cooks didn’t cook with butter (even though it was allowed under some circumstances), substituting chicken or goose fat (schmalz) in many of their doughs. My version isn’t kosher, but it uses vegetable shortening, which gives the crust the crumbly texture you would get from schmalz. The bars are best if made a day before serving so the flavors can blend and the top crust soften.

Ingredients

Dough

  • cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup confectioners’ sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup vegetable shortening, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon water
  • 2 large egg yolks

Apple Filling

  • 6 Golden Delicious apples (about pounds), peeled
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Walnut Filling

  • 2 cups coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup water

Poppy seed Filling

  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon heavy cream or water

Method

  1. To make the dough: Stir the flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Using a pastry blender, cut in the shortening until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Stir the water and yolks together in a small bowl. Using a fork, stir into the flour mixture to make a soft dough, adding a bit more water if needed. Gather up into a ball, then divide into four equal portions. Pat each portion into a 5 X 4-inch rectangle (shaping into a rectangle at this point will make it easier to roll it into that shape later), wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate to relax the dough, at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours. (If the dough chills until very firm, let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes before rolling out.)
  2. Meanwhile, make the fillings. To make the apple filling: Cut ¼-inch slices from 4 of the apples, turning the apples as you reach the cores to slice from all sides. Grate the other 2 apples on the large holes of a box grater, turning the apples when you reach the cores. Discard the cores. Combine the sliced and grated apples, honey, lemon juice, and cinnamon in a medium saucepan. Cover and place over medium-low heat until the apples give off some juices. Uncover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sliced apples are barely tender, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and cool completely.
  3. To make the walnut filling: Process the walnuts and sugar in a food processor fitted with the metal blade until the nuts are very finely chopped. Transfer to a medium saucepan and add the water. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Cook until thickened to a moist paste, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and cool completely.
  4. To make the poppy filling: Cook the poppy seeds, sugar, and water in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring almost constantly, until the water is absorbed and the mixture has thickened into a moist paste, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and cool completely.
  5. Position a rack in the center of the oven, place a baking sheet on the rack, and heat the oven to 400°F. Butter the inside of an 11½ X 8-inch glass baking dish.
  6. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out a portion of dough into an 11½ X 8-inch rectangle. Transfer to the pan and spread evenly with the apple filling. Roll out a second portion of dough into an 11½ X 8-inch rectangle, and fit over the apples, pressing lightly to make as flat as possible. Spread with the walnut filling. Roll out a third dough rectangle, and fit over the walnuts, pressing lightly. Spread with the poppy seed filling, top with a fourth rectangle, and press lightly. Pierce the top dough in a few places with a fork. Beat the yolk and cream together in a small bowl and brush some of it over the top dough.
  7. Place on the baking sheet in the oven. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 350°F. Bake until the top is golden brown, about 50 minutes.
  8. Transfer to a wire rack and cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Run a sharp knife around the inside of the pan. Hold a baking sheet over the pan and invert to unmold the dessert in one piece. Hold the rack over the dessert and invert right-side up. Cool completely, at least 2 hours. (If you have the time, wrap in plastic wrap and let stand overnight before cutting.)
  9. Using a serrated knife, trim off the edges of the rectangle. Cut in half lengthwise, then crosswise into sixths to make twelve bars.