The first crostada of the season is in the oven. Now the whole house smells like autumn. You remember how it smells. Cinnamon and nutmeg. Apples too, I suppose, but really it is always the spicy and sugary smells that linger.
It is time. It comes with or without my approval. Luckily autumn is my very favorite season. I love thickening my coffee with heavy cream on chilly mornings. I love the wind. And in the mountains wind and autumn are an inseparable couple. I love all the blowsy color. I love purple and orange together. And I love the stuff there is to cook maybe most of all. The garden has big fat beets just waiting to be dug. There are a few eggplants next to some squash and hundreds of potatoes and fennel bulbs down there, just waiting, in the dark.
This will be the week. We will cut the rest of the tarragon and basil and dry that and bring in the green tomatoes to color in a sunny windowsill. It’s too chilly out there now at the edges of the day and the woodchucks are dedicated besides. Then the beets and potatoes and fennel will be dug and the larder will be full.
I love the bounty of our summer foods. All those ugly tomatoes and piles of corn. For a while we had corn in salads, sauteed corn, corn on the cob, and corn chowder. Fact is we are still getting raspberries and blackberries off the bushes in our yard. There is nothing quite like fresh orange juice and strawberries on a hot July morning. But there is something especially wonderful about nutmeg and squash on a plate that exactly mirrors the color outside the windows too. Apparently I like to cook in color. If the colors go together so usually does the taste. And the colors right now taste like maple and apple to me.
You should see that crostada. It has caramelized sugar all over the top. I can smell it from here
For the dough:
- 2 cups flour
- 3 or 4 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 pound (2 sticks) very cold sweet butter diced
- 3 or 4 tablespoons ice water (or just a teensy bit more)
For the filling:
- 2 pounds McIntosh Apples (4 or 5 large)
- 1/2 teaspoon grated orange peel
- 1/3 cup flour
- 1/3 cup granulated or superfine sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 6 tablespoons cold sweet butter, diced
- drizzle a very little bit of good dark maple syrup over the top of this filling
For the pastry, place the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade or your KitchenAid mixer. Pulse a few times to combine. Add the butter and pulse 12 to 15 times, or until the butter is the size of peas. Add the ice water all at once. Keep hitting the pulse button to combine, but stop the machine just before dough becomes solid.. Turn the dough onto a well-floured board and form into a disk. Wrap with plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Pat 1/2 the dough into the bottom of a pie plate.
For the filling peel and cut the apples into bites. Toss the chunks with all other ingredients.
Dot the top of the fruit with small balls of the dough lightly patted out. You want some apples peeking through but you want a general rough covering of the filling. Bake the crostada for 20 to 25 minutes, until it is golden and the apples are tender. Allow to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature with fresh whipped cream.