Classic Italian Apple Crostatas
On a cold and windy night 14 of my other “students” and I warmed up the kitchen and our souls in my Rustic Tuscan Cooking Class at a commercial kitchen I rent out. In a sudden turn of events I had decided to take my cooking classes to a grander scale and introduce some of my favorite recipes and techniques to the vast public.
One of the more difficult tasks was making the choice of which recipes to introduce to my loyal apprentices. I wrecked my brain for weeks and came to the conclusion that every rustic cooking class needs to have something as simple and incredible as a crostata! A crostata is essentially a very rustic and quickly thrown together pie. It does not require much technique in rolling out the dough or cutting out any intricate shapes. Even a mess of a baker like me can manage to make them look gorgeous. Ahhh, and I just love the rustic style!
The beauty of this recipe is that the dough can be made the night before, even a few days before! Just keep it wrapped up in plastic in the fridge and then use it when you are ready! Oh, and the apples can also be made ahead! The day of the party just assemble and bake as you start serving your appetizers. Then they will be perfectly cooked and warm right in time for dessert! Can you think of anything easier for your next dinner party? I did this for Thanksgiving last year and it was a WIN!
Our cooking class finished on a very sweet note, when these beautiful crostatas emerged from the oven all golden brown and crumbly. We finished the decadent dessert with a scoop of vanilla gelato and savored each and every morsel.
1 cup butter cold (2 sticks)
2 cups all-purpose flour
⅓ cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
2 ounces ice water (may need more, if dough does not come together)
3 Granny Smith apples peeled and sliced
½ cup sugar
¼ cup butter
¾ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon lemon zest
¼ teaspoon orange juice
½ teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon cornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoon water
heavy cream optional
- With a knife, cut the butter into ¼” cubes and keep cold.
- Mix flour, sugar and salt together in the food processor.
- Add the butter to the dry ingredients in the food processor.
- Pulse or mix briefly, until butter is in small pieces, the size of peas.
- Add the ice water and mix. Stop before it is a solid mass.
- NOTE: It is better to be a little crumbly.
- Press the dough together and form into one large ball. Wrap in plastic wrap.
- Refrigerate at least one hour.
- In large sauté pan, melt butter, until foaming, and add sugar. Cook about 5 minutes over medium heat until light brown. Add the apples.
- Cook until apples are slightly soft, and add spices and zest – mixing well with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon.
- Add the cornstarch and mix well, cooking one minute.
- Remove filling and cool completely.
- Place parchment paper on a baking sheet.
- Cut the crostata dough into 4 equal balls.
- Roll out the dough with a rolling pin into about a 9-inch circle.
- Place the rolled out dough onto the baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
- Using an ice cream scoop fill with 4-1/2 oz. apple filling.
- Fold the dough onto the filling creating a rustic looking flower.
- Place into refrigerator for 30 minutes.
- Brush the crust of the crostatas with heavy cream.
- Sprinkle crust with crystallized sugar.
- Bake in preheated 350-degree oven until brown and crisped (about 35-40 minutes).
For a step by step tutorial and more pictures go to www.girlandthekitchen.com.