Blink! my eyes flew open and I could tell it was far too early to be awake. The bedroom was dimly lit with the reflected glow of city lights bouncing back off of the heavy cloud cover, but at zero dark early the sun wouldn't rise for several hours yet. The house creaked, the husband snored, the clock loudly ticked away with metronome precision, and there was no way I could fall back to sleep. Sigh, now what? I wandered downstairs to the kitchen, looking for a distraction, any distraction, and found one in this bright red package. Dessert for breakfast... why not?
Gasp! a store-bought pie crust? My secret is out, it's just one of the quick-fix items I keep on hand for emergencies like unexpected company... or in this case, a sudden craving for something sweet. Emergency stores are found all over my kitchen and galley, in cabinets, fridge and freezer. I love to cook from scratch, but it's reassuring to know some versatile convenience items are also available, ready to turn into something delicious on very short notice.
Was I just being a considerate wife, trying not to wake RL... or was I too focused on consuming a fast, sweet after-midnight treat? Whatever my excuse, that red package quickly launched a rustic apple crostata project. I took a few shortcuts, didn't refer to a recipe, and luckily it didn't matter. My early morning wedge was just what I craved, and RL enthusiastically enjoyed several servings later in the day.
Step One: Roll out one round of piecrust, thinly spread mango jam on top leaving a scant 2-inch border, and sprinkle a handful of sliced almonds over the jam.
|Photo: piecrust spread with jam and topped with sliced almonds|
|Photo: thin apple slices tossed with sugar, spices and lemon zest|
Step Four: Bake in a preheated 425 F oven for 20 to 25 minutes until the crust is golden brown and the apples are tender. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Preheat the oven to 425 F.
|Photo: the first slice of the baked apple almond crostata|
Apple Almond Crostata
dough for a single 9" piecrust, purchased or from your favorite recipe
3-4 TBS mango jam (or guava, apricot, etc.)
1/2 cup sliced almonds, divided
2 TBS sugar
2 TBS AP flour
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
2 TBS grated fresh lemon zest
Preheat the oven to 425 F.
Prepare the dough according to package directions or your recipe.
Spread jam evenly over the surface, leaving a border of 1 1/2 to 2 inches. Sprinkle half of the almonds over the jam.
In a large bowl combine the sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon zest and the remaining half of the almonds. Mix thoroughly.
Peel, core and thinly slice the apples. Add them to the sugar mix and toss or stir to coat each slice.
Cover the dough with the apples, again leaving a border of 1 1/2 to 2 inches. Pat firmly and rearrange slices as needed to fill in the gaps.
Fold the border over the filling, folding and pleating as needed to form a circle. The center will remain open, exposing the apple filling.
Bake in a preheated 425 oven until the crust is golden brown and the apples are tender. Place on a baking rack to cool until the juices have time to set up a bit.
Options and changes:
1: Before baking, brush the folded top crust with beaten egg white and sprinkle lightly with sugar for an attractive, sparkly finish.
2: Add the last half of the almonds to the apples. Add 1/2 stick cold butter to the sugar mixture and cut in or pulse in processor until crumbly. Sprinkle the crumbles over the top of the apple slices before folding up the dough for a crunchy topping.