Pies really can be done pretty much year round, but I always find myself baking pies more often through the fall and winter months. Apple, pumpkin, cranberry, pecan; those are the ones that remind me of my favorite season and fill my kitchen with sweet aromas of warm and comforting spices.
I became inspired to create this apple and fig crostada after seeing Kristy combine peaches and figs for her french toast. She mentioned that fresh figs were difficult to find in her area but I’ve not had that problem, in fact, my problem is in finding ways to use up all the figs I’ve been buying!
Last week, my best friend, cooking partner and cocktail maker, Ayesha came for a visit. We were laughing about how her mother would sometimes, innocently of course, leave out certain steps or ingredients in the recipes she’d give her. I guess I can recall doing that as well sometimes, though never on purpose! It’s just that some little things you do come so automatically you forget to include it!
So when I became inspired to make this crostada and starting thinking about the ingredients, I remembered a little extra I would do. I probably left it out when I passed along my apple pie recipe, so to all my relatives and friends, I do so apologize, but here it is. For just that extra bit of flavor, that little something that makes you wonder why your pie tastes different from mine….
Before I fill the pie crust with my apples, I sprinkle on a combination of finely ground walnuts, sugar and flour. Just a touch, about 1/4 cup to layer on the crust. I picked up this tip a long time ago in a cooking class and use it whenever I’ve made mostly a fruit based pie, though I know I’ve done it with pumpkin and sweet potato too.
I was really pleased with the taste of the figs in this crostada. They added a flavor of soft and sweet earthiness, with a mild crunch of their tiny seeds. Topped with a quickly made banana soft serve ice cream, it felt like fall had arrived, even though it’s still about 80 degrees outside!
Apple and Fresh Fig Crostada
For the crust, a basic Pate Brisee (pie crust), makes 2 pie crusts
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces – place on a plate in the freezer to keep very cold
1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water
For the nut mixture layer:
1/4 cup walnuts
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
For the filling:
3 large apples, I used two Granny Smith and 1 Gala, peeled, cored and cut into thin slices
1 cup fresh figs, stem removed and sliced in thirds or fourths if large
2 tablespoons sugar, divided (1 tablespoon for the filling, 1 tablespoon for sprinkling on the crust)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided (melt and cool 1 tablespoon of the butter for brushing on the crust)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
For the crust: To bein, all ingredients should be cold. In a food processor put in the flour, salt and sugar. To mix by hand use a large bowl and a pastry blender. Drop in the cold butter pieces and process or cut in by hand for about 10 seconds or until the mixture resembles a coarse texture. Add in the ice water, drop by drop through the feed tube of the processor with the machine running or by hand until the dough holds together without being wet or sticky. Do not over process more than 30 seconds. If the dough seems crumbly when pressed together with your fingers, add additional water.
Divide the dough into two and place each onto a large plastic wrap covering each with the wrap. Press each one into a flat circle. Make sure the dough is wrapped well and place in fridge to chill for at least an hour or up to two days. Place the other in the freezer for another time. Can be frozen up to 3 months.
For the nut mixture layer: Combine the nuts, flour, sugar and cinnamon in a food process and process until finely ground. Pour into a small bowl and set aside. (Note: I do make larger quantities to use throughout my pie baking season and keep the remaining frozen until needed.)
For the filling: Combine the apples, 1 tablespoon sugar and cinnamon, mix well. Add in the figs and gently toss to not break down the soft figs.
To make the crostada: Preheat oven to 400. Remove the pie crust and place on a floured surface. Dust additional flour on top and gently roll out the dough to a large circle, about 1/8 inch thick. Place the dough either on a baking sheet lined with parchment or slipat or in a pie dish. Sprinkle on the nut mixture layer. Place on the apples and figs, mounding more in the middle. Bring up the edges of the dough around the apples/figs, gently folding and creating a casual, rustic look. Break up 1 tablespoon of butter into small pieces and scatter on top of apples/figs. Brush on the other tablespoon of butter and brush on crust, sprinkle with remaining tablespoon of sugar.
Bake for approximately 30-40 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and the filling is tender and just starting to bubble. If the crostada is browning too quickly, cover with foil. Allow to cool for 20-30 minutes. Serve warm.
I love being in the kitchen. Early mornings, soft music, a hot espresso. Easing into the preparation of delicious meals. Glancing through cookbooks, gathering inspiration and planning my day. I look forward to the cycles of the seasons, the pleasures of tasting and savoring and sharing this with those dear to me. Weekends are special to me as my week days are often rushed, but still I create the ambiance, light the candles, set the table and uncork the wine.