This month's Sugar High Friday, an event in which I am not officially partaking, revolves around short pastry. Hosted by food porn watch's mastermind, life in flow, the event is titled Tantalizing Titillating Tempting Tarts, but leaves the door open for a "galette, or any other tart-formation that you all would care to create." It's a theme that allows for boundless creativity and surely will produce some mouthwatering results. (I just peaked at some entries; the Domestic Goddess has outdone herself again with a complex sweet breakfast tart - banana-krispie pie.)
So, why am I not partaking in this month's High? First, it's summer, and I've grown lazier. Second, father's day is Sunday and I am planning to make him a fresh pecan tart, which means I have to finish it Sunday so he can enjoy the out-of-the-oven warmth. (Ok, laziness is really the reason.)
Earlier in the week I was actually readying myself for a post. I rented Kimball's The Dessert Bible, whose absence of color photography nearly turned me away, Medrich's Bittersweet, and Fran Bigelow's Pure Chocolate. I was looking for a chocolate-centric tart. Just to brush up on my short pastry skills, I flipped through my mother's Barefoot Contessa: Parties! cookbook and fell across a simple freeform pie recipe - the Apple Crostata. A crostata is a casual Italian dessert which is formed by hand, obviating the need for a tart or pie pan. I wasn't sure if a crostata would qualify under this month's theme, but since the picture in Parties! reminded me more of a rustic tart or galette, I decided it would be fair game.
And wouldn't ya know! On the wonderful Leite's Culinaria, nearly the same recipe as Parties! author Ina Garten refered to was mentioned, but under the appelation Rustic Apple Tart. So I was covered for the Sugar High even if I never got around to making a true tart. (Laziness remember.)
For the crostata, or galette, or rustic tart, all you need is a short pastry crust recipe that calls for a cup of flour and two sticks of butter. The only trouble with this recipe is rolling out the finished product. The dough needs to be very cool, and definitely devoid of any surface moisture; if the butter is too warm or moist, you will end up with a new table fixture, not a tart crust.
The filling is easy enough. Quarter 3 large or 4 medium McIntosh apples and then cut the quarters into thirds. The apples get a turn with a teaspoon or two of orange zest and then are placed on the rolled out crust dough, leaving an inch-and-a-half uncovered (11-inch circumference). The topping consists of three tablespoons of butter, 1 cup of brown sugar, and a teaspoon of cinnamon (or a combination of spices). The ingredients are chopped roughly in a processor and then spread over the zest-mixed apples. See recipe for the tantalizing conclusion (provided by recipezaar)...
For the pastry crust:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/8th cup of sugar
¼ tsp of salt
1/4lb very cold unsalted butter, each tablespoon quartered
For the filling:
1 ½ lbs McIntosh Apples
¼ tsp orange zest
¼ cup flour
¼ cup sugar
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. cinnamon
1/8 cup all-spice
4 tbs butter, diced