Monday, November 12, 2007

Bring this easy dessert to Thanksgiving!

I love this pie - its nothing new, but when I learned how to make it, it was definitely new to me. A pie - no pan! Looks rustic, but so easy to put together. 15 minutes flat. I have been making this basic recipe for a few years and have made all different variations of fruit fillings (apple, plum, peach, berry, etc). It always gets rave reviews.

This version uses apples and strawberries. I had actually never made a strawberry pie before - it turned out really nice, but I would be careful not go overboard with the strawberries.

Apple Crostata / Apple Freeform Pie (adapted from this recipe)
1 cup flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 pound (1 stick) very cold unsalted butter, diced
2 tablespoons ice water

1 1/2 pounds apples (about 3 large, but change according to the size of your dough round. I usually use a mix of apples for a good depth of flavor. Use apples that you like but don't use all soft apples. I tend to go with golden delicious with a macoun thrown into the mix. You can find an apple use chart here)
6 strawberries, hulled and halved
1/4 teaspoon grated orange zest
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon plus an extra dash of cinnamon
Dash of nutmeg
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, diced

1. Place the flour, sugar, and salt into a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Pulse a few times to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the butter is the size of peas. While its running, add the ice water through the feed tube. Keep hitting the pulse button to combine, but stop the machine just before the dough becomes a solid mass. Turn the dough onto a well-floured board and form into a disk. Wrap with plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Note: I promise the dough only takes a few minutes to make, but you can also use a premade dough from the supermarket here to save time, but there is a difference in taste :)

2. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

3. Roll out the pastry into an approximate 11-inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Transfer dough to a parchment-lined baking sheet (makes for seriously easy removal when it is done). The size is also variable - if you make a bigger or smaller circle, you will need more or less filling. You can also make small, individual-sized tarts, just use smaller circles of dough.

4. For the filling, peel the apples and cut off all the sides (you could also core the apple and cut from there). Cut each apple side into 3 pieces and each piece into 3 chunks. The pieces don't need to be perfect in shape; you just want it to be more on the chunky side, not minced. Toss the chunks with the orange zest. Add strawberries. Add filling to the center of the dough circle, leaving an approximate 1 1/2-inch border.

5. Combine the flour, sugar, salt, and other spices into the food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture is crumbly, but not one mass. Pour into a bowl and rub it with your fingers until it starts holding together. Sprinkle mixture evenly over the filling. Once the crumble mixture is covering the filling, carefully fold the edge of the dough over the filling, pleating it to make a circle. You can brush the top of the crust with a bit of milk or an egg wash to make it look pretty (a sprinkle of sugar never hurt anyone either!).

6. Bake the crostata for 20 to 25 minutes, until the crust is golden and the apples are tender. Allow to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature. Note: through all my trials, I have found that baking time varies dramatically depending on whether you are using a gas or electric oven. Also, in an electric oven, I have found that the outer edges of the pie burn before it is fully cooked - if you cover the edges with a bit of aluminum foil, it comes out great. Just take the foil off for the last 10 minutes of cooking. Just make sure you watch it to figure out how much time your oven needs.

Enjoy - Let me know if you have any interesting filling ideas!


Beth G. said...

That looks AWESOME!! I will totally be trying this soon :O) YUM!

Deborah said...

This looks awesome. I've been on a pear kick lately; do you think it would work well with those in place of the apples?

Jade said...

I think that pears would work great! You might need to experiment with the shape or mix it with something that holds up a bit better. I'm not that familiar with different types of pears (if some bake up softer than others). Worth the try though because the pie is so fast! Let me know how it turns out!

Tip Junkie said...

Looks yummy!!

Tip Junkie said...

You have an award over on my site. Congrats!