A Perfect Holiday Dessert
Not too tart and not too sweet,
A most delicious tea-time treat.
Easy to please and quick to depart,
A rustic, holiday open-faced tart.
I’ve wanted to prepare a Cranberry Apple Crostata (“a rustic, holiday open-faced tart”) for some time now, and this past Saturday was the perfect occasion—a dessert to enjoy after the 31st annual Christmas Stroll in downtown Bozeman. It was a wonderful evening with very, very light snow falling and many happy people walking in and out of shops and enjoying the ambience, hot cider or chocolate or in our case, clam chowder. A beautiful evening.
We had invited some friends to join us by our fireplace after the stroll, so earlier in the afternoon I made the Cranberry Apple filling and formed and baked the crostata. I had a 12-inch round of dough in the fridge just awaiting this moment. The crust was a little dry (I had rolled it out the day before Thanksgiving, so although covered, it did dry out a bit in the fridge this past week.) Yet, that dryness made the crust extra flaky, even if harder to work with.
Crostata are Italian by heritage, though the culinary world seems to have adapted this quick and easy style for all manner of tart. Just moisten the inside edge of the crust and fold and pleat it over the top outer edge of a thick filling. Paint the crust with Egg Wash and bake until the filling is bubbling and the crust turns golden brown and beautiful.
Yield: one 9-10” open-faced tart
One basic recipe Whole-Wheat Pie Crust
One 12-ounce bag fresh or frozen cranberries, about 3 cups
4-5 tart apples
Juice and zest of 2 medium oranges
½ cup honey
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in 2 tablespoons of water
3 tablespoons butter cut into ½-inch cubes
2 tablespoons milk or cream
Prepare the basic pie crust recipe and roll the dough out into a 12-inch circle. Keep the crust covered and refrigerated until 10 minutes before you are ready to assemble the crostata.
Prepare the Filling: Rinse, drain and pick through the fresh or frozen cranberries, discarding any that are bruised or spoiled. Peel and cut the apples into ¼-½ inch dice. You will need about 4 cups of diced apple. Zest and juice the oranges.
Stir in 2 tablespoons of the orange zest along with the honey, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Dissolve the cornstarch in the water and stir it into the apple mixture. Actively stir the mixture as it thickens. Lower the heat and stir in the cranberries and butter. Cover the pan and simmer the filling for about 5 more minutes, just until the cranberries begin to pop. Place the filling in a bowl and refrigerate until it is completely cool.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Place the 12-inch round of dough on a piece of parchment paper. Place the cranberry/apple filling in the center and with a rubber spatula spread it in a circle leaving a little over an inch of exposed dough around the filling.
Prepare the Egg Wash: use a fork to mix together the egg, salt and milk or cream till well-mixed.
Use a pastry brush to brush the exposed dough. Then fold up the dough, pleating it as you go, around the filling. Brush the top of the dough with Egg Wash. Lift the parchment paper to move the tart to a baking pan and place in the preheated oven. Bake until the crust is golden and the filling is bubbling, about 45-50 minutes.
Serve your crostata hot from the oven or at room temperature.
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