The inspiration for this crostata came from a grilled cheese sandwich. Michael and I went out for a night on the town and stopped in some backyard patio bar in Annapolis for a drink. I wish I knew where we were but the only plans we had were reservations at Level. We headed up to Annapolis early just to walk around and enjoy the weather.
A table next to us had two small children and the waiter come over with a replacement grilled cheese for the young boy. As the waiter passed, my husband, who sometimes has no filter, asked the waiter, “A little overdone?” The waiter said, “No. Actually, it has feta cheese on it. It was a kids order and he didn’t like the feta. The sandwich also comes with apple slices.”
Michael and the waiter continued the conversation for a few moments longer which gave me time to contemplate how I can turn that combination into a baked creation.
The Apple Cheddar Feta Crostata from The Bell House was born. I had everything I needed to make the filling and the best part, I had the pie dough in the freezer. BOOM!
A crostata is nothing more than a rustic looking pie. You don’t use a pie or tart pan. The pie dough is simply rolled out, folded over the rim of the filling and crimped to make a beautiful homespun visually appealing dessert or savory dish.
APPLE CHEDDAR FETA CROSTATA
About 10 ounces of dough, enough for a single 9 inch pie crust, see below for my favorite recipe
3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced thin
3 Gala apples, peeled, cored and sliced thin
1/2 cup of sugar
1/4 cup of brown sugar
1/4 cup of flour
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of vanilla
Large pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 cup of extra sharp white cheddar cheese
1/4 cup of feta cheese
1 egg, beaten
Sugar, for dusting the crust
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, mix together the apples, sugars, flour, cinnamon, vanilla, salt, nutmeg, and lemon juice. Set the bowl aside and let the apples macerate for at least 30 minutes. The apples will work with the sugar to break down a little. This simple step leaves room to use more apples than you would if you didn’t let the apples rest.
Meanwhile, roll out your pie dough to a 9-10 inch diameter. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the pie dough onto the baking sheet.
Add the cheddar cheese to the apple mixture after the 30 minutes are up. Pile the apples onto the pie dough, leaving about a 3 inch border. Top the apples with the crumbled feta cheese.
Fold the dough around the apples giving the dough several pleats around the perimeter. Press the dough firmly against the apples. Brush the beaten egg over the pie dough. Sprinkle the dough with sugar.
Bake the crostata for 45-55 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and delicious.
I have tested many different pie doughs from frozen to refrigerated to homemade. By far I have to give credit to Joanne Chang and her first cookbook Flour. I have talked about my unofficial mentor before in a few other posts. If I lived in or around Boston, I would do what I could to work and learn from her directly. However, I have to stick with the next best thing, her cookbooks. They are like fun textbooks.
For this crust, I used her Pate Brisee II recipe. This dough is easy, fast and freezes well. So make a few, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and store in a labeled freezer bag for future use.
PIE DOUGH (PATE BRISEE II)
140 grams (1 cup) of unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
128 grams (1 stick + 1 tablespoon) cold unsalted butter cut into 8 pieces
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons cold milk
In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, mix the flour, salt and sugar together for about 15 seconds. Spread the chunks of butter around the top of the flour and turn the mixer on low for about 45 seconds or until you see pecan sized butter pieces throughout.
In a small bowl, whisk together the yolk and milk and pour into the flour and butter.. Mix together for about 30 seconds or until the dough just comes together and looks shaggy.
On an unfloured work surface, dump out the shaggy dough into a mountain high pile. Start at the top of the mountain and slide your palm down the side and onto the work surface. You will start to see the butter chunks smear into the dough. Pile the dough mountain high again and repeat the smearing process. Continue to move through the mountain of dough until you see the butter smeared throughout.
Mold the dough into a round 1 inch thick disc and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before using. The dough will hold up in the fridge for 4 days or in the freezer for about a month.
Thank you Joanne Chang for this yummy crust.