Originally a crostata is an Italian tart, but after some googling I found out that these crostata’s aren’t the real thing… the Americans had their way with this term, and this recipe is indeed more like an American crostata than like an Italian one. The same thing happened to the French galette; in the American interpretation both are a free-form rustic tart. You can fill them with virtually anything you like, fruit, jam, but also dulce de leche, frangipane, pastry cream or nutella, and savoury options also can be very delicious (try this ricotta and courgette version).
I went with an apple filling, because I made these as a spin on Dutch apple pie, that is also why the individual tarts are reasonably large (the average piece of apple pie is quite substantial). They tend to collapse during baking, which
makes them not the prettiest of pastries gives them a rustic look, but they compensate that in their deliciousness. The magic of this pastry dough lies in two important factors: everything should be cold, very cold; and the dough should be barely worked, just kneaded enough to incorporate all the ingredients. Then you will end up with beautiful, almost layered, crisp and flaky pastry. This is not easy when you’re not experienced in making doughs like this, so if you mess up, just try again (the messed up tarts still taste delicious).
Apple Crostata (4 individual tarts)
150 gram flour
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
115 gram butter, in small cubes, cold
few drops of vanilla extract
60 ml water, (ice)cold
2 small apples, peeled, cored and cubed
1 tbsp sugar
pinch of cinnamon
Splash of milk or a little beaten egg
Mix the flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Add the butter. Rub the butter into the flour (flatten a cube of butter between your fingers, drop it into the flour, grab it again between your fingers and rub to mix it with the flour). Mix the water and the vanilla extract (this makes sure that the vanilla extract gets evenly distributed through the dough). Add this to the butter-flour mixture and use a spatula to mix until a barely coherent dough forms. Knead a few times with cool hands (if they are hot, rinse them with cold water before kneading) until it forms a ball. Flatten it into a disk, wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for one hour.
Mix the apple cubes with the sugar and cinnamon for the filling. Preheat the oven at 190C. Cover a baking tray with baking paper.
Cut the dough in 4. Place 3 of the pieces back in the fridge. Roll the 4th with a rolling pin into a rough circle of 3 mm thickness. Place a quarter of the filling in the middle of the dough circle. Fold the edges of the dough over the filling, press the overlapping pieces so that they stick to each other. Place on the prepared baking tray. Do the same with the other 3 pieces of dough.
Brush the top of the tarts (only the dough) with some milk or beaten egg. Place the baking tray in the oven and cook for 20-30 minutes. The dough on top will be brown when the they are ready. Leave the crostata’s to cool on a wire rack before serving (this prevents a soggy bottom).
Note: if you make a larger batch, don’t try to fit more than 5 on a (half sheet) baking tray. Otherwise they will collapse into each other, which makes them even less pretty and also makes it harder to cook them evenly.