Lenten apple pie: Bake a vegan alternative to Russian Sharlotka (RECIPE)

No egg in the dough of this lean apple pie!

No egg in the dough of this lean apple pie!

Victoria Drey
Maximum filling, minimum dough – you probably even won’t suspect that this tender pastry is based on fruit juice and generous apple stuffing.

This year, Russian Orthodox Lent comes quite late and lasts up to May 1. This is the annual 40-day-period before Easter when Orthodox Christians refuse to consume any foods of animal origin. I don’t really follow the diet, but for me this time is always a good chance to make egg-, milk- and butter-free pastries, which, by the way, quite often are as yummy as their richer alternatives. This pie is a great example!

I’d say, it is a kind of legendary Russian apple Charlotte (or Sharlotka) dessert, which has been known since Tsarist times, but in a totally vegan version. The difference is that classic Charlotte batter is based on lots of eggs thoroughly whipped with sugar, while this lean apple pie doesn’t need a single egg. Lean pastry recipes usually call for using plain water as a liquid base for the dough, but why not try fruit or berry juice instead? Adding sweet apple fresh right into the batter makes the pie taste really scrumptious and rich – you can’t even tell it is lean. Using natural juice also excludes adding extra sugar into the recipe – juice and apples are usually already sweet enough.

Another thing I really like about this pie is the amount of filling: there are so many apples and such little batter. So, after baking you get a most unique smooth texture of baked apples coated in soft pastry. I also add a generous handful of berries to enrich the filling – cowberry, currant and raspberry go perfectly, but feel free to experiment with any other fruit and berry stuffing of your choice.


  • 200 ml sweet apple juice
  • 180-200 g plain flour
  • 3 large apples
  • 70 g cowberry
  • 60 ml vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla sugar / extract
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • a pinch of salt
  • + powdered sugar for dusting


1. In a bowl mix sifted flour, baking powder and salt – add a pinch of ground cinnamon if you like. 

2. In another large bowl mix flourless vegetable oil with vanilla and apple juice – use fresh or packed. If you feel the juice is not sweet enough, add about 50 g sugar and mix until it dissolves. Add dry ingredients into the liquid and stir until smooth.

3. You should get a quite liquid and runny batter – set it aside to rest for a while.

4. Meanwhile, prepare the filling: peel and core apples, then slice finely. You better use the more sourish kind of apples for this recipe since they give a richer taste. 

5. Next, add apple slices and cowberry into the batter, gently mix and set aside for around 10 minutes so that the filling soaks in the batter. By the way, if using frozen berries do not defreeze before cooking.

6. Grease your baking form with oil; dust with cornstarch and fill with the mixture. Bake at 190 °C for 45 minutes or so. If you notice the apples burning on the surface, cover the pie with a sheet of baking parchment and continue baking. 

7. Let your pie cool to room temperature and set; generously dust with powdered sugar and serve with a cup of fresh black tea. Priyatnogo appetita!

READ MORE: Pastila: Master an apple treat that once delighted the tsars

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