Crostata are free-form pies. These are little pies that you can quickly put together to make individual desserts. The one below is caramel apple made with a just-add-water pie crust, premade apple pie filling, and a caramel sauce. It’s like an apple pie in a crust.
Step 1. Add the water and Mix the dough
Follow the directions on the bag. Add water and mix for one minute.
Step 2. Roll and cut the dough
Roll the dough to 1/4 inch thick and cut six inch rounds.
Step 3. Add the filling and fold
Put three tablespoons of filling* in the center of each round. Fold the dough over the filling and pinch the side folds together so that it holds its shape.
Step 4. Bake
Bake for 15 minutes at 425 degrees until lightly browned.
(Keep reading for more information.)
*For the filling, use canned apple filling or the filling from your favorite apple pie recipe.
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The Story Behind the Crostata
It was dark and we were hungry and it was two hours to Pocatello, Idaho, the next sizeable town.
Merri Ann and I had driven to Bear Lake, a hundred square mile lake that straddles the Utah/Idaho border. The east side of the lake is remote and steep but the west is rimmed with picturesque little towns that just stepped out of a Norman Rockwell painting. Along this shore, the waters are shallow and warmer and the beaches inviting. It’s a great place to visit.
There’s not much in the way towns between Bear Lake and Pocatello. That was okay on the way down. Two rooster pheasants flew across the road in front of us and a fox loped through the stubble along the road. The snow in the pines had already pushed the deer down and we saw mule deer and antelope in the empty fields bordering the sagebrush slopes. But now it was just dark and we were anxious to get our home three hours away and 70 miles north of Pocatello.
Merri Ann likes steak and I like seafood. It’s often an adventure choosing a restaurant. Usually we resolve that by choosing ethnic food but we don’t know the restaurants in Pocatello. But there’s a Red Lobster there, the closest Red Lobster to home. (Where else can you live in the United Sates where there is only one Red Lobster within a hundred miles of home?) I love their biscuits and their seafood and Merri Ann is good sport and so we stopped there. (We have a copycat cheddar biscuit mix just in case you live 100 miles from a Red Lobster restaurant.)
But this is about a different culinary adventure.
Inside the restaurant, a very pleasant waitress plopped two paper coasters on the table and filled our water glasses. I picked up the coaster and looked at the dessert picture on the coaster. It was a crostata. I’m always interested in the next great dessert.
“Hey, we can make these in our test kitchen,” I told Merri Ann. We talked about how good they were and I stuck the paper coaster in my pocket.
The next day, I handed the coaster to Kelli in the test kitchen and said, “Make some just like this.”
It turned out to be bigger project than that; we decided to serve crostatas to shoppers in our store. Since it was the holidays and the store was busy, we needed a manageable project, a way to feed a crowd without a ton of work.
- We used our Just-Add-Water Pie Crust Mix
- We decided to use premade pie filling instead of apples
- We used a dough press to cut out circles of dough just the right size.
- We cooked up a big pot of caramel. We could have used our very yummy caramel ice cream topping or buttermilk syrup mixes and cooked it just a bit longer to thicken the syrup. The recipe for the caramel follows.
But first we had to try other fruits and fillings.
- We made some cherry cheesecake crostata with a layer of cream cheese filling on the bottom topped with cherry pie filling. These were very yummy but with less fruit to lend structure, they were flatter than what we wanted. (But don’t hesitate to make these.)
- We made some blueberry crostatas with blueberry pie filling. We drizzled lemon sauce over them and topped them with lemon cloud whipped cream. Outstanding!
But alas, we stuck with the traditional apple. It was more practical when you plan on making hundreds.
The Original Apple Crostatas Recipes
- 3 tablespoons apple pie filling for each crostata
- Pie dough
- Caramel topping
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
- Roll the dough to slightly less than 1/4-inch thick.
- Using a dough press or other round cutter, cut out 6-inch rounds
- Place three tablespoons of apple filling in the center of each round.
- Fold the dough over the filling, leaving the center open one inch or so, squeezing the folds together as you go. It does not need to be uniform. The folds will hold together better if you rub a damp towel over the creases to pick up any flour so that the dough sticks together better.
- Place each dessert on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes or until the crust begins to brown. Remove them to a rack while still hot.
- Serve warm.
If you choose to make these with fresh apples, for each four crostatas use:
- 2 cups thinly sliced and peeled tart apples
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- Pie dough
- Caramel topping
Bake until the crust is browned and the apples are tender. It will probably take a few minutes longer with the raw apples.
How to Make a Caramel Sauce
1 lb brown sugar
1 cup (two sticks) butter
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon butterscotch flavor
- Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan. Add the sweetened condensed milk and syrup. When the mixture is hot, add the sugar and salt and stir with wooden spoon until the sugar is dissolved.
2. Wash the sides of the pan down with a soft spatula dipped in water until there is none of the mixture on the sides of the pan. This is to ensure that all of the sugar crystals are washed into the pan and dissolved. Check to make sure that there are no remaining sugar crystals by rubbing a little of the mixture between your thumb and forefinger. You should feel no gritty sugar.
3. With no sugar crystals in your pan, turn up the heat and cook the mixture while stirring until the candy reaches 240 degrees as registered on a candy thermometer. Remove it from the heat and stir in the flavor.
4. Best served while warm.
About the Author
Dennis Weaver has burned food from Point Barrow, Alaska, to Miami, Florida. He is the founder of The Prepared Pantry in Rigby, Idaho and the author of How to Bake: The Art and Science of Baking available as an E-book or as a Kindle book on Amazon.
Dennis lives in Rigby, Idaho, with his wife, Merri Ann. They have five wonderful children and five beautiful granddaughters.