Apple Tart Cherry Crostata (The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook. . . And Showing Off the Mitts!)

Never in my life have I craved a pie as much as this. And being alone in this world of pie, I was left to my own devices as I went about my merry crostata-baking way. (Because it would have been too much bother to lift dough into a pie plate, pinch the border, bake the shell, fill the shell, bake again. You get my point.)

The husband craved cake. I craved pie. In between cake and pie, we had two batches of cookies we'd shared. One batch of molasses ginger spice for him. One batch of anything-I-can-put-Reese's-peanut-butter-chips in for me. (There now resides a jar of said PB chips next to the other afternoon "snacks".) 

*With a massive winter storm headed this way, it's important to be prepared.

I guess I need to back up. For Valentine's Day, I was gifted the Dahlia Bakery Cookbook by Tom Douglas. I instantly fell in love. It was the English Muffin recipe that did it for me (and for DH). And subsequently, the recipe for flaky pastry dough I used in this crostata. So after only having this cookbook for a little over a week, I have baked five times from it. That means it's "a keeper" in this house. 

I have never, ever had a better English muffin in my life. Yes, I said "life". The EM recipe is quite "involved", i.e., a very wet dough (very), several mix and let sit moments, then manipulating said gooey dough into several smaller balls before baking--all the while with a TON of flour covering the kitchen counter and gobs of dough in my hair and on my apron (totally not the recipe's fault--I can be a messy baker).

The result: super-craggy English Muffin happiness! *I will add that I put my dough in the fridge over night. I'd highly recommend doing so. 
I like my muffins a little "jammy" topped. Mmmmm.
More from the Dahlia Cookbook: Old-Fashioned Molasses Cookies with Fresh Ginger (p. 135). Yum, but sitting next to these are my oatmeal, chocolate and peanut butter chippers, yum again. 
Remember these? The Downton Abbey Knit Along? Well, first off, Sunday's DA season finale episode just about did me in. Right before the end, Dr. Thyme asked: I wonder who's going to get the ax? Sigh.
Finished. . . and I LOVE them! One small detail missing is the lace-up ribbon through the eyelets. Still must decide on proper ribbon/color/texture for that. They fit perfectly. I won't talk about my panic moment of realizing my dyslexia had caused me to accidentally knit the eyelets on the thumb gusset row on my second pair, and how after nearly two days of knitting I'd finally realized this as I went to try on my not mirror-image pair of gauntlets. At first I was like, Oh well, who'll notice? The sensible woman emerged and said, Put on your Big Girl Panties and rip those rows NOW.  
My crostata came together in a jiff. You could certainly use all apples in this if you wish. You could use dried cherries. You could use frozen cranberries. Pears. Blueberries. Whatever. All that really mattered to me was that I had pastry crust and some fruit sitting in front of me. I have a major crush for cherries. I happened to have a can of tart cherries in the pantry. The fruit combined together with the apples beautifully. One thing to remember--almond extract for the filling. A must. 

Apple Tart Cherry Crostata
*Crust adapted from The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook by Tom Douglas

For Crust:
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/3 cup spelt flour
1/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon Raw Sugar (turbinado)
1 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 cup unsalted vegetable margarine cut into 1/2" cubes (cold)
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening cut into 1/2" cubes (cold)
1/4 cup ice water mixed with 1 teaspoon white vinegar

Place the flours, sugar and salt in a medium bowl. With a pastry cutter or two butter knives, begin to add pieces of butter and shortening to the mix. Incorporate the fats into the flour mixture until you have pea-sized pieces of dough. Next, add the water/vinegar mixture one teaspoon at a time and continue mixing. The dough will begin to come together a bit more. When you can pick up a handful of the mixture and it holds its shape, and you can form it into a flat disc, you are ready to place the dough in the fridge. You will have pieces of dry dough throughout. This is okay, as the dough cools in the fridge, it will all come together. Place dough in fridge for at least an hour. Meanwhile, you can work on the filling.

For Filling:
3 medium apples cored and cut into 1" chunks (you can leave the skins on)
1 can of tart cherries, drained (reserve the juice!) 
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
1 tablespoon corn starch
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
pinch of salt
1/3 cup Raw Sugar (or regular sugar, but I really love the raw kind)
*You will have some filling left over. I did. I just stored mine in the fridge for the next crostata.

Place the drained juice from the cherries into a medium sauce pan. Add the sugar, corn starch, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and extract and whisk together well over medium heat. The mixture does not need to boil, just warm up a bit--you want the corn starch to dissolve some--about 2 minutes is all. Next, add the cherries and apples and toss well together in the pan--for another minute. Remove from heat. Allow to cool for ten minutes before filling dough.

Preheat oven to 375. Remove dough from fridge and roll between two pieces of parchment paper to make a 12-14" circle. Place the dough with the parchment paper onto a cookie sheet. Place about 2 cups of the filling onto the flat dough--being careful to lift one side of the circle up around the filling as you go--so as not to have the yummy juice spilling out all over the sides. This is a bit tricky, but because it's a free-form pie, it really is okay to have some spill out. Just keep folding the dough up over the filling as you go around the circle. Leave some of the filling showing. Pinch any seams around the sides that look like they might need it. Sprinkle a bit of raw sugar on top. Place in oven and bake for 50-60 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Store in airtight container at room temperature for three days.