Russian Oven: Anke pie, the feast that stole Leo Tolstoy's heart

Sweet yet gracefully sourish, Anke pie was always a hit at Leo Tolstoy's family dinners.

If life gives you lemons, make Anke pie! Sweet cookie dough and piquant sourish lemon filling: who could resist such a feast? Not Leo Tolstoy, that’s for sure. And with good reason. This pie, cooked by his wife Sofia on important family occasions, hit the spot every time. “Without it, a meal wouldn’t have been a meal, and a feast wouldn’t have been a feast,” their son Ilya wrote in his memoirs.

The pie recipe was given to Tolstoy's wife by Dr. Nikolay Anke, dean of the Medical Department of the Moscow State University and a friend of Sofia's parents. For Leo Tolstoy, the pie was a metaphor for family warmth and well-being.

Recently RBTH published 5 tastiest recipes from Russian writers and you voted for Anke pie to be cooked by RBTH with step-by-step instruction. So here it is!

If you can't wait to see what tickled Leo Tolstoy's  taste buds, arm yourself with these ingredients:

  • 400g (3.2 cups) flour
  • 2 lemons
  • 300g (1.3 cups) butter
  • 300g (1.5 cups) sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • A shot (50g, 0.2 cup) of water 


1. First let's cook the dough. Sift the flour through the strainer, add 200g (0.9 cup) of cold butter, 100g (0.5 cup) of sugar and 3 egg yolks. Add water, then mix the dough. 

2. Separate the dough into 3 pieces. Spread the first piece in the baking pan. Preheat the oven to 200C (392F). Bake the dough for 15-20 minutes. That will be the first layer of the pie. Bake the second and third layers the same way. Leave the second layer to cool, and crush the third (we’ll use it for decoration)

3.  Now for the sauce. Grate the zest from one lemon. Squeeze the juice out of both lemons. Mix the lemon zest and juice with 200g (1 cup) of sugar, 100g (0.45 cup) of warm butter (cut to bits) and 2 eggs. Cook the blend on a slow double boiler for 15-20 minutes. When ready, the cream should be thick. 

4. Put the chilled cream between the layers and on top. Sprinkle some crumbs from the third piece of dough on top.

5. Leave the pie to cool for 2-3 hours.


Russian Oven is a video series devoted to Russian pastries, featuring traditional age-old pies and cakes, inventive cookies and tarts of recent years, plus Soviet classics and much more. Stay tuned!

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