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Savory Autumn Crostata


Everyone needs a little something to warm up their bellies for the Thanksgiving feast…a little nosh, a little nibble.  Savory Autumn Crostata with butternut squash, onion, apple and blue cheese is perfect.

The 2010 November Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Simona of briciole.  She
chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make pasta frolla for a crostata.  She used her own experience as a source,
as well as information from Pellegrino Artusi’s Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well.

Dough:
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • Pinch salt
  • 8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, diced (1 stick)
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
Filling:
  • 1 large baking apple
  • 1 small or 1/2 medium butternut squash (about 3/4 pound), halved, seeded, and skin on
  • 1 small yellow onion, peeled, root end trimmed but intact
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
  • 1⁄3 cup crumbled Stilton or other blue cheese (about 1 1/2 ounces)

Now that the recipe is out of the way…let’s move on to the good stuff…

Start prepping your veggies.  The good news is there is no need to peel the butternut squash.  I had a nice small squash which worked out perfectly for slices.  When cutting your onion, leave the root end intact, only trimming away the root threads.  Core and slice the apple with the idea being to make all the slices about the same size and thickness.

Actually…first, make the dough.  Pulse the flour and salt together in a food processor.  Add the butter and pulse a couple of times until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal with a few bean-size bits of butter in it.  Add the egg and pulse 1 to 2 times more…it just hast to be damp enough to stick together.  If the dough seems very dry, add up to 1 tablespoon of cold water, 1 teaspoon at a time, pulsing briefly. Remove the blade and bring the dough together by hand. Shape the dough into a disk, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

Roll out the dough into a large disk, and dusting generously with flour.  All those wonderful creamy dots – yep, you guessed right…it’s butter!  Don’t be afraid, as this is what makes a crust flaky and lovely.  Remember to work with your dough quickly and as little as possible…if the butter melts…your crust is toast!

Put all the squash, onion and apple slices into a bowl, and pour the melted butter over the top.  Toss in the herbs, and season with salt and pepper, toss or mix them gently so each piece is coated perfectly in buttah!

Roll the dough to about 1/8 inch thick and about 2 -3 inches wider in diameter than you would like the finished crostata to be.  Place the dough on a sheet of parchment on a baking sheet and spread the mustard over the dough, leaving a 1-1½ inch border.

Beginning on the outside, alternate slices of squash, apple and onion in a circle, tucking them close together.

Continue layering it all into the center of the circle as well using smaller pieces to fill in the holes.  Next, fold in the sides, pleating where necessary to contain the filling.

Press the edges down gently and tuck any pointy pieces of onion or apple back down into the crostata.  Place in a 400° oven until the crust is golden brown and flaky, about 55 minutes.

While the crostata is baking…it’s time to get the blue cheese out…any blue will work…stilton would be especially delicious…and I used a roquefort.

After the 55 minutes, pull the crostata out of the oven.

Crumble the cheese using a fork and scatter over the top of the crostata.

Place the crostata back in the oven for another 5 minutes to melt the cheese.

Let is cool for a few minutes, slice it into wedges and serve.  It can also be served room temperature as well.  Enjoy and be sure to save a little bit of room for Turkey and fixin’s!

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