Week 8: rustic apple crumb crostata (near)perfection


Funny that given I’m a perfectionist, the more I bake, the more I tend to fall in love with rustic baked goods. This is why pie suits me well I think. A gorgeous pie might have edges that are a little uneven here and there, and juices that bubbled up out of the crust unexpectedly while baking, and a little sag someplace or other and still, someone will look at it and say, “That’s one beautiful pie.”  Rustic perfection. That’s what I’m after every time I bake a pie.

The apple crumb crostata I made this week might have ended up near perfect, but along the way, I had my doubts. The dough was a little tricky to manage, very sugary and so quite granular and hard to manipulate without cracking. I had more crumb mix than I needed so some was fed to the compost troll and I had to add a bit of cornstarch to the apples to thicken the buttery liquid as it cooked. As the crostata baked, it spread quite a bit, leading me at one point to say upon opening the oven, “Man, you aren’t much to look at, are you?”

I am sorry apple crumb crostata. You proved me wrong. You proved that I shouldn’t be so quick to judge because you are in fact quite lovely to look at, in that rustic way I hope for whenever I send a pie into the oven. Not only that, you are exactly what I felt like making with my first basket of Ontario apples of the year. Can we be friends after all?

Before:

After:

I might be tempted to make this with the hazelnut crumb topping from my pear pie, just because I don’t think you can beat it, but this was pretty delish, as is. Thanks Martha.

Crust:
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp coarse salt
1 cup plus 1 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into pieces
4 large yolks plus 1 egg for the egg wash
3 tbsp ice water
demerera for sprinkling

Filling:
6 tbsp unsalted butter
3 pounds Granny Smith or other tart, firm apples, peeled, cored and cut into cubes
1 tsp orange zest
1 1/2 tsp lemon zest
1/4 tsp coarse salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar

Topping:
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp coarse salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes

1. Crust: Mix the flour, sugar, salt, and butter in a mixer with a paddle on medium speed until you have coarse meal. Add the yolks and beat a little. Drizzle with the ice water and beat until just combined. Form the dough into a disk and chill for at least an hour.

2. Filling: Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium high heat. Add the apples, zest, and salt and stir to coat. Sprinkle the sugar over top and cook, stirring to dissolve. Cook until the apples are almost golden. I needed to add a little dissolved cornstarch (2tbsp or so) to thicken the juices up a bit. Cool the filling in dish or on a tray until it is room temperature.

3. Topping: Process all ingredients until you have a coarse meal and chill until you want to use it.

4. Preheat the oven to 375º. On a floured parchment, roll out the dough to a 14 inch round, being sure to flour the underside now and then to avoid sticking. You want it to be 1/4 inch thick. Place the dough on the parchment onto a rimmed tray. Pile the apple mixture onto the dough, leaving a 3 inch border. Sprinkle the crumb mix over the apples. Fold the edges over the apples, overlapping and leaving an opening in the centre.

5. Chill in the fridge or freezer until the dough is firm, about a half hour. Brush the dough with the beaten egg and sprinkle with the demerera. Bake until it is golden and apples are tender, 45-50 minutes.

Here’s another beautifully rustic apple pie to get you even happier it’s Fall.

And here’s some romantic and warm Fall pie-making music:

Blue ribbon for rich butter-cookie-like crusty edge bits

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