Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Rustic Crostada with Apples and Dried Fruit Baked in a Wood-Fired Oven

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Ten smoky crisp pizzas, perfectly wood-smoked rib eyes and salt baked potatoes later, it was time to bake a dessert in the fully seasoned wood-fired oven. What's more fitting than a rustic free form apple and dried fruit crostada? A premiere Italian pastry, the crostada can be made with just about any fruit filling, fresh, canned or even with fruit preserves, making it a perfect dessert to make in any season. Traditionally, the dough of choice is a pasta frolla, but I've used a pate brisee for this crostada, both are considered a short crust pastry, but the pasta frolla has eggs or egg yolks in the dough.

When baking the crostada in my wood-fired oven, I noticed the high moist heat of the oven intensified the caramelization of the sugars in the fruit with the wood adding a subtle smoky taste. No wood-fired oven-no problem, the crostada can be baked in a conventional oven. If you are new to wood-fired ovens, there are many resources on the Internet on purchasing or building your own wood-fired oven, plus how to effectively fire a wood-burning oven and how to manage the fire when cooking pizzas, roasting meats, vegetables and baking breads and desserts. I have three books on wood-fired oven cooking that I would recommend-Wood-Fired Oven Cookbook-Holly and David Jones,  The Art of Wood-Fired Cooking- Andrea Mugnaini and Cooking with Fire-Maurice Sabbagh Yotnegparian. Both Mugnaini and Yotnegparian have a line of wood-burning ovens as well. My oven is a Casa2G from Forno Bravo who not only sells residential and commercial ovens, but has oven supplies for sale as well as videos on cooking in a wood-fired oven as well as a community forum where many questions about wood-fired cooking can be answered. In the photo below, my wood-fired oven is enclosed in brick with wood storage underneath, a granite counter to the right of the oven and a stainless steel cabinet below for storage.
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Rustic Crostada with Apples and Dried Fruit

Bake Oven Environment or Conventional Oven at 375°F. If baking in a conventional oven, place a pizza stone in the oven while preheating. You can then slide the crostada from the wooden peel to the stone for baking. 
Prepare the pastry dough at least 2 hours before making the crostada.

4 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced thin
1/2 cup dried sour cherries
3/4 cup chopped dried apricots
3 tablespoons chopped crystallized ginger
1 tablespoon orange zest, plus 2 tablespoons juice
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Pate Brisee (recipe  below)
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon Turbinado sugar or regular sugar

Pate Brisee
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1-1/4 sticks unsalted butter, cut into pieces and chilled
2 tablespoons shortening, cut into pieces and chilled
1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water

In large bowl, combine the apples, dried fruits, crystallized ginger, zest, juice, sugar and cinnamon. Toss to coat. Set aside while rolling out the pate brisee.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a 14-inch circle, adding more flour as necessary to keep the dough from sticking. Carefully transfer dough to a floured wooden peel. Place the fruit in the middle of the dough, leaving 3-4 inches around the edge. Fold the dough up over the filling pleating as  you go. There will be a 4-5-inch of exposed filling when you are finished. Brush the pastry with cream and sprinkle with the Turbinado sugar. Dot the exposed filling with the pieces of butter.

If baking in a wood-fired oven, slide crostada onto an inverted pan in the oven. Close the door and bake for 15 minutes. Open the door and using a metal peel, remove the crostada from the pan and set it directly on the oven floor. Close the oven door and cook for about 15-20 minutes, or until apples are soft and the pastry is browned and cooked through. Remove to cooling rack.

If baking in a conventional oven, slide crostada onto pizza stone. Bake 30-40 minutes at 375°F until apples are tender and crust is golden brown. Remove to cooling rack.

Serve warm with your favorite ice cream or whipped cream. Serves 8-12

Pate Brisee

Place the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor; pulse to mix. Add the butter and shortening and pulse until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Pour in the ice water, a tablespoon at a time and pulse for a few seconds, until dough roughly comes together. Remove the dough, place on a work surface and gather into a ball. Press into a thick disc about 4-5 inches in diameter. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.
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The image above is my contribution to BWW #108, this week hosted by Priya of The Humpty Dumpty Kitchen. Black and White Wednesday is the brainchild of Susan and is now managed by Cinzia. The image above was converted to black and white in CS6 and a texture from Rad Lab's Dirty Pictures used to add a grainy, sepia-like look.

Please do not use images or text without my permission. 

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