I have been making Ina Garten’s Apple Crostata recipe for years now. YEARS. This was one of my first forays into how easy a flavorful crust can truly be (down with shortening!) and reaffirmed my constant need for sea salt in my desserts.
In 2009, I was also quite happy to produce this recipe in Brittany while spending time there with my best friend and her French extended family. Her aunt had recently married a Frenchman who had three sons, two were our age and one was a fifteen year old pain-in-the-arse (at the time). We spent all day in and out of open air markets and the tiny grocery in Quimiac preparing for a dinner party. Fresh fish was ordered and produce was procured by our local hosts. My baking problem had me in charge of dessert. In France. For French. At the very last-minute. Had I have known ahead of time, I would have made put on twenty pounds testing tarts and cakes at home to make sure something was just right for the occasion. It was a kind of wonderful thing that I had no advance notice of my task at hand. Thank God this recipe is fail proof.
The dinner party was for about twenty people – my nearest and dearest, her cousins and aunt, our host and his son, and a family with three more kids our age. They had been childhood and now lifelong friends with our host, buying a vacation house just down the road for his. Naturellement.
So, I spent the day in the kitchen prepping food with my best friend. The large window was so low you could step through it out into the yard to pick ripe figs from the trees. We drank milky coffee out of low bowls like something out of an Anthropologie ad. I tripled the recipe for our crowd and made quite the mess rolling (with a wine bottle as my pin) such a quantity of dough on a well-floured counter. I’ll never forget the fifteen year old pest stopping by to tell me what a mess I was making and that I had better clean it up. I sarcastically replied that I would not bother to clean it up and just return to America, leaving the mess for him. My friend’s aunt whooped with delight. She had yet to put his constant snarky remarks toward her in their place and my apple tart placed him in check.
At home this dough is so easily made with a food processor.In a bare bones country kitchen in France, my best friend and I stabbed pounds of butter into the flour mixture, incorporating the two for the perfect consistency. The dinner party was a hit! Langostine with juices sucked from the head, fresh fish, buttery roasted potatoes, a simple salad, bottles upon bottles of crisp, mineraly muscadet, and this apple crostata. After there was not one morsel of anything leftover, we turned on the car radios, made a fire, and danced under the stars. It was truly a night where life was but a dream. It was seven years ago now and I hope to never forget. Just as I’ll never forsake this recipe.
Enjoy this favorite recipe and the photos from the dreamscape French dinner party!
Ina Garten’s Apple Crostata
Recipe from BarefootContessa.com
Serves 6 or can be tripled for a French crowd!
For the pastry:
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated or superfine sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 pound (1 stick) very cold unsalted butter, diced
2 tablespoons ice water
For the filling:
1 1/2 pounds McIntosh, Macoun, or Empire apples (3 large)
1/4 teaspoon grated orange zest
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup granulated or superfine sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) 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 pulse 12 to 15 times, or until the butter is the size of peas. With the motor running, add the ice water all at once through the feed tube. Keep hitting the pulse button to combine, but stop the machine just before the dough becomes a solid mass. Turn the dough onto a well-floured board and form into a disk. Wrap with plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Flour a rolling pin and roll the pastry into an 11-inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Transfer it to a baking sheet.
For the filling, peel, core, and cut the apples into 8ths. Cut each wedge into 3 chunks. Toss the chunks with the orange zest. Cover the tart dough with the 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 to enclose the dough, pleating it to make a circle.
Bake the crostata for 20 to 25 minutes, until the crust is golden and the apples are tender. Allow to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature.