Monday, October 11, 2010

Apple Crostata with Cinnamon Pastry

The weather was telling me to bake a fall (ish) dessert, and there were apples from the farmer' market on the counter. I decided to make a crostata, since the free-form shape lends itself to adjusting the finished size of the pastry to the amount of filling. I had small apples, only about 1/4 pound each. Three were Jonathans, and three were ... something else. I don't really know what they were.

I decided to add cinnamon to the pastry instead of putting it into the apple mixture. It turned the crust an interesting color. I'm a bit undecided as to whether I like the color, but the flavor was good, and I like the clean taste of apples without cinnamon. Having it in the pastry makes it more of a garnish to the apples rather than the main flavor punch

Apple Crostata with Cinnamon Pastry

For the pastry dough:
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
1 tablespoon vanilla
3 tablespoons ice cold water, divided

For the apple filling:
2 tablespoons butter
6 small apples, about 1/4 pound each
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

For the assembly and baking:
eggwash (1 egg, lightly beaten with a splash of water)
Sugar, for sprinkling
Thickener for apples mixture, if desired
2 tablespoons unsalted butter for dotting onto the apples, if desired.

Make the pastry dough:
Put the flour, cinnamon, and sugar into your food processor and pulse until the cinnamon is evenly distributed through the flour. Cut the butter into chunks, add it to the food processor, and pulse several times, until the butter is in pea-sized pieces.

Mix the vanilla with 2 tablespoons of the water. With the food processor running, add the vanilla/water mixture as fast as it can be absorbed. Stop when the dough begins to come together.

You should be able to take a small handful of dough and squeeze it and it should hold together. If the dough is still too dry, add as much more water as needed.

Remove the dough from the processor bowl, form it into a disk, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Make the apple filling:

Melt the butter in a medium frying pan over low heat. Peel, core and slice the apples, putting them into the frying pan as you go, and stirring them around to coat with butter so they don't turn brown.

When all the apples are added, turn the heat up to medium, add the vanilla, sugar, and salt. Cook another minute or two, until the apples just begin to soften.

Remove the apples from the pan, put them in a suitable container, and refrigerate until they are completely cooled.

Assemble and bake:
When the dough has rested and the apples are completely cooled, preheat the oven to 400 degrees and lightly flour your work surface. Roll the dough out to a circle about 14 inches in diameter.

You'll be cooking this on a sheet of parchment, so if you want to finish the rolling on the parchment, do so. If not transfer it after you have rolled it out. It will hang over the sides a bit; that's fine.

If the apples are juicy, you can add some of whatever thickener you desire. I added a scant teaspoon of a pastry thickener from King Arthur Flour.

Spread the apples on the pastry, leaving at least 2 inches empty around the outside. Fold the dough over towards the center, crimping as needed. Brush the dough with the eggwash and sprinkle with sugar. Dot the apples with butter, if desired.

Bake at 400 degrees for 40-45 minutes, until the pastry is browned and done. Move the pastry to a rack to cool. Serve warm, room temperature, or cool.
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