Apple Crumb Crostata: An Easy Alternative to Pie

8 Oct

First of all, accept my humblest apology for my semi-absence these past few weeks. I now work at a produce market that lives on an apple orchard, and it’s busy times for apple sellers. Everyone suddenly realized that it’s fall once it got a little colder, and they all really want apples. But I have returned, and I come bearing an apple dessert. This apple crumb crostata is basically a hybrid of apple crisp and apple pie. My mom likes to say it’s the lazy man’s version of apple pie. For those of you who have an aversion to homemade pie crust, this is your entry point. This recipe is easy to make, and anyone who eats it will be as impressed as if you’d made an actual pie. I promise.

This recipe comes in three parts: the crust, the crumb topping and the apple mixture. You will need:

The Crust:

  • 1 1/4 c. flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 4 Tbsp. butter
  • 4 Tbsp. Crisco
  • Ice water (approx. 3 tsp.)

The Crumb Topping:

  • 1/3 c. flour
  • 1/3 c. brown sugar
  • 1/4 c. old-fashioned oatmeal
  • 3 Tbsp. melted butter

The Filling:

  • 3 medium-sized apples (I used Jonathan – a firm and tart apple)
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 1 heaping Tbsp. flour
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • pinch of salt

You will also need:

  • 3-4 Tbsp. apricot preserves
  • Egg wash: 1 egg yolk, 1 Tbsp. water

You actually use a food processor to make this crust. Honestly. If you don’t have a food processor, you can do it the old-fashioned way and use a pastry blender. First, take the flour, salt and sugar, and blend it together in the food processor.

Next you add the butter and Crisco, and pulse the food processor until the mixture starts to look like corn meal. You can see what that looks like in the image above. Be very careful not to overmix. Overmixing means a less flaky crust, and nobody wants that. After you have a corn meal-esque mixture, add ice water one teaspoon at a time until the crust starts to come together. If you have no idea what it looks like when a crust comes together, try the pinch test. Once you think it’s finished, pinch some of the mixture between your fingers to see whether it forms a thin sheet of crust. If it does, you’re probably finished. I ended up adding three teaspoons of water, but you might need more or less. Just be observant.

When your dough is ready, remove it from the food processor and form it into a disc. Wrap it in plastic wrap, and place it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes while you get the rest of the recipe together.

Next comes the crumb topping. This part is the easiest thing in the world. The hardest part is measuring out the ingredients. So measure out your ingredients first.

Now put all those ingredients with a bowl, and use your hands to mix it into a crumb topping. That’s it. Set it aside to use later.

The next step is to make the filling. This is also a good time to preheat your oven to 375°F. Measure out all the ingredients for the filling except the apples, and mix them together in a bowl. Set it aside.

Now it’s time to peel and cut some apples. This is the perfect time to practice peeling an apple all in one piece. Not to brag, but I’m totally going to brag. I’m a pro at this. My mom hates peeling apples, so I’ve had a lot of practice over the years. You’ll want to cut the apples fairly thin. After cutting them with this apple corer, I cut them in half again to really get a thin piece of apple. If you’re using a newer corer, you might even want to cut it into thirds. Just make the slices thin. Bottom line.

Pour the apples into the bowl with the mixture you made a little bit ago. Mix it around (being careful not to break the slices in half) until the apples are evenly coated. Set this aside for a little bit.

It’s time to roll out the crust. Take that disc out of the refrigerator, and use a rolling pin to shape it into a rough circle shape with about a 12-inch diameter on top of a piece of parchment paper. Take the apricot preserves and spread them onto the dough, leaving a 3-inch border around the edge. Put about 3/4 of the crumb topping on top of the apricot preserves, still leaving the border. Place the apples on top in concentric circles (or half circles, as my last layer came to be). I started in the middle and worked outward, but you can also start on the outside and work inward. It also doesn’t have to be perfect. If it looks mediocre, it’s good enough. After you’ve placed the apples on the crust, sprinkle the rest of the crumb topping on top of the apples.

Carefully fold the edges up over the apples. I used the parchment paper to help me lift up the edges. At this step, pieces of your crust might break off, but just stick them back on. Crostatas are supposed to look a little rustic. Once you’re satisfied with the shape of your crostata, brush an egg wash over the dough. Slide the crostata (using the parchment paper) onto a baking sheet, and pop it into the 375°F oven. Bake for 40 minutes, then take it out and place a piece of foil over the entire thing to prevent the crust from burning. Now bake for an additional 15 minutes.

You’re done! Let it cool on a wire rack before serving. I let mine cool for approximately five minutes and then couldn’t wait any longer. See how those messy apple circles don’t really matter? Cut it as you would a pie or pizza, and serve alone or with a scoop of ice cream. This recipe makes about six servings.

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