Lately I've been on a fruit dessert kick. Not sure what it is but for some reason, most of the treats coming out of my kitchen have been fruit based. I don't hear anyone complaining though, especially not when I made this Apple Pear Crostata. It is utterly delicious, very forgiving and makes your house smell wonderful!
I love rustic pies and tarts because they're more about the taste than the look--a pie crust won't roll out perfectly, no matter, you can't crimp the edges just so, who cares--it's supposed to look homemade and well...rustic, which is a good excuse when you mess up, right?!! So if you've never baked a pie before or had a really bad experience the last time, this is right up your alley!
You start by tossing the pears and apples and with sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon sticks, apple juice or cider and vanilla beans and roasting them.
Then you roll out your pie dough any which way into a big oval--
And you top it with an easy-to-make brown sugar, cinnamon, buttery filling-
Next you simply pile on the roasted fruit and fold up the sides of the crust any way you like--
You finish off by brushing the crust with an egg wash and sprinkling the whole thing with cinnamon sugar. Then you pop it into the oven and less than an hour later, what you pull out of the oven resembles something you'd find in the kitchen of a French countryside grandmother. It's a little odd, a little misshapen, a bit of the juices are running out of the sides onto the parchment paper,--in other words, it's absolutely perfect! The filling is soft, mildly spiced and slightly caramelized, while the pastry is crunchy and golden brown. It's totally homey-- like nothing you'd get in a restaurant but wish you would.
And if you top a slice with a scoop of good vanilla ice cream, you just may never want to eat out again!
Apple Pear Crostata
Prep Time: 1 hour (plus time for the dough to chill and the filling to cool); Bake Time: 45-50 minutes
For the Pie Dough:
- 1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoon sugar
- scant 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 9 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- 1/4 cup ice-cold water
- 1/2 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
For the Crostata
- 4 ripe pears (I used Bosc-use any kind you like)
- 4-5 large Honeycrisp apples (or a similar kind of sweet crisp variety)
- 1/2 cup sugar divided
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 2 tablespoons apple juice (or cider)
- 1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out
- 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 3 large eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling out dough
- 1 tablespoon turbinado or sanding sugar
For the Pie Dough
1. In an electric mixer, on lowest speed carefully mix flour, sugar and salt for just a few seconds. Slowly add the butter and keep mixing until butter becomes the size of peas and mixture looks sandy. This should take about 2 minutes. Slowly add the water and vinegar and mix just until the dough holds together.
2. Take the dough out of the bowl, divide it in half and flatten each half into a 1 inch thick disk. Wrap both well in plastic and refrigerate until firm, at least 1-2 hours and up to 3 days.
3. Proportions can be doubled to make a top and bottom crust for other recipes.
For the Crostata
1. Make sure the rack is in the center of the oven. Preheat to 375ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
2. Peel, core and cut the apple and pears into 1/2-3/4 inch slices and toss them in a large bowl with 1/4 cup of the granulated sugar, the lemon juice, cinnamon sticks, apple juice and vanilla bean seeds, making sure all the fruit is well coated. Turn the mixture into a 9x13 inch baking dish and roast fruit for about 30 minutes, until barely tender. Transfer mixture to another bowl and place in the refrigerator to cool to room temperature.
3. While fruit is cooling, using an electric mixer, beat together the butter, brown sugar, and the remaining 1/4 cup granulated sugar on medium speed till light and fluffy. Add 2 of the eggs and mix well. Then on low speed slowly add the salt, cinnamon, and flour and mix until just combined. Set aside till ready to use.
4. Flour a board and roll the dough into a circle or oval about 12-14 inches in diameter and about 1/8 inch thick. Don't worry if it's not perfectly shaped. Roll dough around the rolling pin and then unroll on the parchment lined sheet. Refrigerate for about 15 minutes until firm.
5. Remove the dough from the fridge and spread the filling in the center leaving a 1 1/2 inch border of dough without filling. Remove the cinnamon sticks and place the roasted fruit on top. Fold up the edges of the dough over the fruit, pinching it together if necessary so that the filling won't spill out as much as possible. Lightly beat the remaining egg in a small bowl and brush over the surface of the dough and then sprinkle the entire thing with the turbinado sugar.
6. Bake for about 45-50 minutes, until crust is golden brown and fruit is bubbling and beginning to caramelize. Let cool on the baking sheet for about 20 minutes and then cut into wedges and serve.
7. Leftover crostata keeps for several days in an airtight container in the fridge and reheats well in a low oven.
Note: Recipe adapted from Jenny McCoy's Desserts for Every Season. I left out the ginger, used Bosc pears instead of Comice, replaced the quince with extra apples and pears and subbed apple juice for the cider.