With a rich, buttery shortcrust dough casually draped around thinly sliced apple, this rustic crostata certainly lives up to its name. Derived from the perfect past participle (crustata) of the Latin verb crustare (to encrust), the term crostata is defined as a type of torta in one of the earliest Italian dictionaries, l memoriale della lingua italiana: ridotto in ordine d’alfabeto per commodità del lettore by Giacomo Pergamino (1617). Today, however, a crostata is differentiated by a chunky filling instead of the smooth, blended consistency commonly found in a torta.
A classic shortbread pastry dough (pate brisee) will work if you have some left over, but try this version from my favourite hometown restaurant, Al Forno in Providence, RI for an even richer, more buttery crust – anyone who has ever eaten at Al Forno knows it’s all about the grilled pizza, the margs and the delicious tarts! The free-form nature of this easy-to-please dessert makes it a charming way to end a dinner or brunch party – just roll out some of your already made dough, arrange the apples and pop it in the oven for 20 minutes while your guests are enjoying their main course. Ecco la!
Rustic Apple Crostata
(makes 1 full size or two smaller crostate)
113 g cold butter, cubed
125 g flour
25 g sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbl ice water
25 g sugar, plus more for sprinkling
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2 apple, thinly sliced
butter to dot
squeeze of lemon juice
- Combine the flour, salt and sugar. Cut the butter into the dry ingredients using pastry knives or your hands (if not too warm). Add the ice water and combine, do not overmix. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and shape into a ball. Wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hr.
- Preheat oven to 220 C. Roll out the dough into an 11 inch or two 5 inch discs on a parchment lined baking tray. Mix together the sugar and the cinnamon and spread around the centre of the disc(s). Arrange the apple slices in concentric circles on top of the cinnamon-sugar mixture, leaving a 1.5 inch border.
- Sprinkle some more sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice over the apples. Fold over the border, partially covering the apple slices. Dot the centre with butter and bake for 20 min or until the crust is golden and the apples have slightly browned. Let cool. Serve warm or room temperature with vanilla ice cream.