Things I fear: 1) Snakes. Any kind, anywhere. Especially in bodies of water. 2) Writer’s block. For me, it equates to lots of wasted time and unending pushing of the backspace button. 3) Loss. You know, losing stuff. Mostly, the really big stuff. 4) Making pastry dough.
There. I said it. I am afraid to make make pastry dough. Pie dough and pizza dough, too. Any kind of dough, actually. I buy it at the store, in a neat little box. Pathetic, I know. But, eventually, we all come face-to-face with our fears, or at least we should if we ever want to grow and develop and become wise and stuff. So, you know, I kind of dabbled in pastry dough today. All in the name of apple crostata.
I’ve long had my eyes open for different ways to use the abundance of apples that I bring into my home every fall. I can’t help myself. The selection is stellar, at both the orchards and the farmer’s market. The taste is decidedly autumn, especially in pies during the holiday season. In my eyes, apples are perfect little spheres of simple, honest goodness.
Last weekend, I picked up a quart of apples, the Ozark Gold variety, at the market. These are particularly tart apples, but I like them that way. I got caught up with work and put them aside all week, until I found an interesting recipe for an apple tart-like pastry called crostata. According to Google and my cookbook, a crostata is an Italian baked dessert tart filled with fruit. It’s kind of like pie, but it’s more free-form, a little rustic bundle of doughy, fruity genius. I was sold. Except for that homemade pastry dough part.
Turns out, it’s pretty simple to make pastry dough. There aren’t many ingredients and it doesn’t take long to mesh it all together. So, turns out, there was really nothing to fear. I mean, if you forget the part when I read, but obviously did not comprehend, the recipe for Deluxe Butter Pastry Dough and added vegetable oil instead of vegetable shortening. OIL instead of SHORTENING. Do you see what I mean about fearing loss? I’m clearly losing my ability to read. ‘Cuz the recipe very obviously listed vegetable shortening.
Surprisingly, the mistake (which – since we’ve known each other for a few months now, I need to confess – I didn’t even realize until I sat down to type this post) didn’t totally screw up this recipe. I still managed to make a nice little dough, though it was a bit gummy at times. I added a dash of flour here and a dash there (repeatedly) as I rolled it out onto the baking stone. I was eventually able to wrap it up and over the apple slices.
I suppose my lack of ability to read directions also contributed to the rather un-golden brown color of this particular crostata, but that didn’t affect the taste, which was almost like apple pie, but not quite as sweet or flaky. I would have liked to top this off with some vanilla ice cream, but it was (im)perfectly fine on its own. The good news – I have conquered my fear of making pastry dough. The bad news – I think I’ve found a replacement. Fear of messing up pastry dough, again.
Autumn Apple Crostata
(adapted from the Joy of Cooking, 75th anniversary edition)
Ingredients for deluxe butter pastry dough: