Ultimate Apricot Crostata

After borrowing and refining various components from various versions I've made over the years, this is it - the ultimate Apricot Crostata!

Let's start with the crust. For years, I've always used either a pate brisee or Ina Garten's crostata crust recipe. And they've been wonderful and dependable, but they did require pulling out the food processor and chilling the dough for an hour or so before rolling.  Plus it used a lot of butter.

Then I discovered a Strawberry-Rhubarb pie from Saveur which used a super-easy-to-make, no-butter, no-lard crust (it uses vegetable oil).  I thought I would try that same crust for the crostata. Taste-wise, it came out great, but it was a bit thin and too crisp like a cracker. I wanted it to have a bit of cakey-ness.

So, I continued my research and came upon King Arthur's Oil Pie Crust. This recipe has a higher flour to oil ratio, plus it uses 1/4 tsp of baking powder for some added lift. This is an amazing crust!! Wait till you see how simple it is to make; it's practically fool-proof. Rips, holes or tears in the crust? No problem, just tear off a piece around the edge and press and patch. Another plus, there's no need to chill the dough before rolling. This is my new go-to crust recipe!

For the filling, I had followed the same process I used for my apple crostata which was to mix the cut up fruit with the flour and sugar and then place in the center of the rolled out crust.

However, a few days ago, I went through some of my cooking notebooks and found Chez Panisse's Apricot Galette recipe. In their version, they first cover the center of the crust with a flour/sugar/almond meal/crushed amaretti mixture, then place the apricots on top. The apricots end up looking cleaner and brighter since they're not coated with flour and having the flour at the bottom of the crust helps to absorb all of the juices, keeping the bottom crisp.

Finally, I like to squeeze half a lemon on top of the apricots to brighten the flavor and prevent darkening.

If you've shied away from making pies, try this recipe. The crust is sooo easy to make and a crostata's inherent rustic nature means it doesn't have to be picture-perfect!

Ultimate Apricot Crostata 
Makes one 9" crostata

Place a cookie sheet (not a jelly roll pan) or pizza stone in oven. Preheat oven to 425°F (or 400°F convection).

Prepare Crust:
In a medium bowl, sift together:
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour (192g)
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp baking powder

Pour into a measuring cup, but do not mix together (the milk will settle to the bottom):
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 - 4 tbsp milk

Make a well in the flour mixture and pour in the oil/milk mixture. Mix together with a fork until evenly moistened. Scrape out the dough onto a piece of parchment paper, 15" x 15" or so. Using your hands, gather up the dough into a ball, then flatten into a 6" diameter disc. Place another sheet of waxed paper or parchment paper on top of disc and roll dough out to a rough 13" diameter circle. The dough rolls out very flaky. If it starts separating, you can use your fingers to press together.

If either sheet wrinkles, peel it off (you'll need to flip the crust over for the bottom sheet), unwrinkle and place back on top of crust and continue rolling. Remove the top sheet when done rolling.

Prepare Filling:
In a small bowl, toss together:
1 tbsp all-purpose flour (8g)
1 tbsp granulated sugar (13g)
1 tbsp almond meal (ground up almonds) (5g)
1 tbsp crushed amaretti (8g) [you can also use slightly sweet cereals such as Life or Cinnamon Toast Crunch. The crumbs at the bottom of the bag are perfect for this use.]

Sprinkle the flour-almond powder evenly over center of pastry, leaving a 2-inch border.

Wash, halve (or quarter if apricots are large) and pit:
10-12 apricots (depending on size)

Arrange apricots snugly, skin-side down, on top of the flour-almond powder, in a single layer, leaving the border bare.

Sprinkle over the apricots:
1/4 cup granulated sugar

Squeeze over the apricots:
juice from 1/2 lemon

Fold the border of exposed dough up and over the fruit, lifting the parchment paper and peeling it back to help overlap the dough as you go around the crostata.

Sprinkle crust with:
1 tbsp sanding sugar or regular sugar

Remove preheated cookie sheet from oven. Grab a corner of the parchment paper and carefully slide crostata onto the hot cookie sheet. Place in lower third of oven. Alternatively, if using a pizza stone, use a pizza peel to slide the parchment paper and crostata directly on top of the stone.

Bake for about 45-50 minutes (35-40 minutes convection) or until crust is well-browned, turning halfway thru baking time. Slide crostata onto a cooling rack.  Let cool for 15 minutes, then serve!

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