“Like apple pie, but with a rustic touch. Apples are tossed with cinnamon and sugar, topped with walnut streusel then baked in a free-form pie crust until golden.”
Pies are beautiful, but I would argue that a crostata is even more beautiful. With its rustic, free-form nature, it’s gorgeous by default. It’s also conveniently a very forgiving dessert, a plus for anyone who fears making pie dough. This version involves a slightly sweet crust topped with fresh apples and a delightful streusel made with walnuts, cinnamon and brown sugar. It’s a simple treat that is lovely to look at and even more lovely to eat.
The crostata hails from Italy, where it is topped with everything from jam and fresh fruit to custard. I like to make this one filled with fresh apples enveloped by a hearty crust. To make it hearty and to boost nutrition, the crust is made with a blend of whole-wheat pastry flour and all-purpose flour. The whole-wheat pastry flour is lighter than regular whole-wheat flour because it’s made from soft white wheat instead of hard red wheat, which makes it a perfect swap for some of the all-purpose flour.
Making the crust may seem like a burden, but it’s actually quite easy and tastes much better than a store-bought crust. Because of its rustic nature, it doesn’t have to be rolled into a perfect circle, so take your time to roll it out, but don’t stress if it looks unevenly shaped. Sometimes the crazier it looks before it’s wrapped into a crostata, the better it looks when it’s all done.
To keep the dietitian in me happy, I also like to keep the filling light by using fresh fruit, spices like cinnamon and just a hint of sugar. The streusel isn’t overly sweet or heavy with butter. Even better; just one small sliver is really all you need. Invite friends and family over to enjoy the rest!
Food Safety Tip: Have leftovers? Keep them, but be sure to wrap them up first in a sealed food storage bag or container. Store them at 40°F or below in the refrigerator for no more than 1-2 days.
Apple Crostata with Walnut Streusel
For the crust:
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup whole-wheat pastry flour
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons butter, cold, cut into cubes
- 5-6 tablespoons cold water
For the filling:
- 4 Granny Smith apples, washed, peeled and cored
- 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
For the topping:
- 2 tablespoons butter, softened
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ cup chopped walnuts
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon water
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- To make the crust: Whisk together the all-purpose flour, whole-wheat pastry flour, granulated sugar and salt in a large mixing bowl. Cut in the cold butter using a fork or a pastry cutter. Work butter into flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs. Slowly add cold water, a tablespoon at a time, mixing with a fork until dough just comes together. Shape into a disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
- To make the filling: Cut each apple in half, then quarter and cut into thin slices. In the bottom of a large mixing bowl whisk together brown sugar, cinnamon and cornstarch. Add the apple slices to the bowl and toss until well-combined.
- To make the topping: Combine flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon and walnuts in a small bowl. Cut in the butter until crumbly.
- To make crostata: Remove disk of dough from the refrigerator. Roll out into a 14-inch circle onto a lightly floured surface. Transfer crust to a large piece of parchment paper and place on a baking sheet. Place the filling mixture in the middle of the crust, leaving about 1 1/2 to 2-inch border. Sprinkle topping over apple mixture, then fold the edge of the crust over the filling to enclose, but not fully cover, the crostata.
- Bake until the crust and topping are golden and apples are tender, about 35 minutes.