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Monday, December 22, 2008

Apple Crostata

I made a really simple dinner tonight of roasted sweet potatoes, zucchini, summer squash, and brussel sprouts, served with the delicious Two Bean Humus Anna posted in November and a roasted garlic ciabatta for dipping. This whole "light" dinner was designed around dessert, because that was the thing we were really excited about.

It all started earlier today when I went to the library next door and checked out 4 cookbooks, 3 of which are Ina Garten / Barefoot Contessa books. The Apple Crostata recipe in "Barefoot Contessa Parties!" starts with "This is my absolute, all-time favorite desert." So how could I not make it? She also mentions that her recipe is adapted from Al Forno, a Providence restaurant that we love. And, as it is the week of Christmas, a recipe with lots of butter is kind of called for.

Apple Crostata from Barefoot Contessa Parties!

For the Pastry (2 tarts)
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 pound very cold unsalted butter, diced

For the Filling (1 tart)
1 1/2 pounds McIntosh, Macoun, or Empire apples
1/4 teaspoon grated orange zest
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon allspice
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, diced

For the pastry, place the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Pulse a few times to combine. Add the butter and toss quickly with your fingers to coat each cube of butter with flour. Be careful; the blades are sharp. Pulse 12 to 15 times, or until the butter is the size of peas. With the motor running, add the 1/4 cup ice water all at once through the feed tube. Keep hitting the pulse button to combine, but stop the machine just before the dough comes together. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured board and form 2 disks. Wrap with plastic and refrigerate one of the disks for at least an hour. Freeze the rest of the pastry.

Preheat the oven to 450.

Roll the pastry into an 11-inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Transfer it to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

For the filling, peel, core, and quarter the apples. Cut each quarter into 3 chunks. Toss the chunks with the orange zest. Cover the tart dough with apple chunks, leaving a 1 1/2 inch border.

Combine the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and allspice in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture is crumbly. Pour into a bowl and rub it with your fingers until it starts holding together. Sprinkle evenly on the apples. Gently fold the border over the apples, pleating it to make a circle.

Bake the crostata for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the crust is golden and the apples are tender. Let the tart cool for 5 minutes.

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