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Easy Apple Crostata (Rustic Italian Pie Recipe)

Apple Crostata is a great way to give your apple pie an Italian twist! A pile of cinnamony apple slices are baked in an Italian pastry dough called “pasta frolla” to create an amazing fall inspired dessert. This rustic dessert lets you have all the comforting warm flavors of apple pie without fussing over the the perfect pie crust, in fact this doesn’t even have a top crust.

A slice of apple crostata on a black plate with a dollop of whipped cream and sprinkles of cinnamon and sugar.

Crostata is an iconic Italian dessert.  In fact classic Italian crostata is probably as common as American pies are in the US. 

As much as we love traditional Italian desserts like Tiramisu, Almond Cake or Budino, a crostata’s simplicity and versatility can’t be overlooked.

This fruit crostata is one of the easiest desserts you will make to celebrate the fall season. I promise this is as easy as my apple crisp and just as delicious!

What is a Crostata?

Crostata is basically an Italian tart. It can be made in a tart pan with a lattice top or as a free-form dessert, where the edges are simply folded up to secure the filling. 

The dough used to make the crust is called pasta frolla. It is a crispier dough then an American pie crust and has a cookie like texture. The great thing about pasta frolla dough is that it makes delicious cut out cookies too!

The crostata filling is typically jam, but you will also find recipes that use fresh or dried fruits, custard or even Nutella.  Frequently apricot jam is the filling of choice in a traditional Italian crostata.  But this fresh fruit version is one of the tastiest desserts you will make all year.

A photo of all of the ingredients needed to make apple crostata with labels.

Simple Ingredients You Will Need:

Pie Dough Ingredients

  • Flour : 00 flour is normally used, but All Purpose flour will work as well.  Measure the flour by spooning it into the measuring cup and leveling it off so that you don’t add more flour then you need.
  • Granulated sugar
  • Butter: Cold, cut into small cubes
  • Whole Egg: Large room temperature eggs.
  • Egg yolk: Large at room temperature
  • Baking Powder
  • Salt
  • Lemon Zest: Adding the lemon zest is optional but it brightens the flavor of the crust.

Fruit Filling Ingredients

  • Apple jam or preserves
  • Apples: Select apples that are best for baking. For recommendations see the section below on Best apples for baking. Cut the apples into even slices so they bake evenly.
  • Sugar: Granulated
  • Cinnamon
  • Salt
  • Lemon juice

Baking Ingredients

  • Milk or cream to brush on the crust (this is optional)
  • Decorating sugar (optional) – this is optional, but the crust looks so beautiful with the sparkling sugar baked on.

Step by Step Instructions

Making the Pastry Dough (Pasta Frolla)

4 Process photos of making pasta frolla.
  1. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder salt and lemon zest in the bowl of a food processor, pulse to mix
  2. Add the cold butter and and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse sand
  3. Add the egg and pulse until the mixture just comes together to form loose dough
  4. Gather dough together with your hands to form a round of dough, cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Assembling the Crostata

4 process photos of assembling apple crostata.
  1. In a large bowl combine the apple slices with the lemon, cinnamon and sugar and set aside.
  2. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out on a lightly floured work surface or a sheet of parchment paper until it forms a large circle about 1/8″ thick and about 12 inches in diameter.
  3. Spread the jam or preserves in the center of the dough leaving a 2-inch border.
  4. Arrange the apples, without the liquid, on the preserves in the center of the crust and fold the dough over the outer edges of the apples.

Baking the Crostata

  • Transfer the parchment paper with the crostata to a baking sheet.
  • Using a pastry brush, brush the edges of the dough with the heavy cream and sprinkle with the decorating sugar
  • Bake in a preheated 375° oven for 40-45 minutes or until the crostata is golden brown around the edges and the apples are tender.

Recipe Tips:

  • Eggs should be room temperature so they blend into the flour easily.
  • If you don’t have a food processor you can use a pastry blender or your fingers to mix the dough. Use only your finger tips to work the butter into the flour mixture so that the heat from your hands does not melt the butter.
  • Don’t overwork the dough. Stop pulsing or mixing as soon as the dough comes together.
  • Rolling the dough out on a piece of parchment paper will make it easier to transfer the crostata onto a baking sheet.
  • When placing the apples on the dough, make sure not to add any of the liquid. This will keep the crust from getting soggy.
  • If you can, use a rimmed baking sheet so that any juices that might leak out of the crust don’t drip on to your oven. You can also place a piece of aluminum foil on the rack below the crostata to catch any drippings.
A golden brown rustic apple crostata on a dark metal plate.

Crostata Variations

  • I like to add a little lemon zest to the crostata dough, but you can leave it out or replace it with orange zest.
  • Add another spice (such as cinnamon, nutmeg or ginger) or flavor (vanilla or almond are commonly used) to the crust.
  • Mix sliced pears in with the apples.
  • Sprinkle some raisins, dried cranberries or dried cherries into the apple mixture.
  • For a summery dessert, substitute peaches or berries for the apples.

Serving Suggestions

This simple apple crostata can be served at room with a dollop of whipped cream or mascarpone cream on top. This is also the perfect dessert to serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or gelato. Whether it is warm or at room temperature, a caramel drizzle would pair nicely with this rustic tart.

Storage Recommendations

The crostata can be stored covered loosely at room temperature for up to 2 days.

Best Apples to Use for Baking

Fresh apples are in abundance this time of year, but when you are baking it is important to make sure that you select the right type of apples to make sure you create the best apple dessert. Based on this article from Bon Appetit here are some apple varieties that are won’t turn to mush while baking and provide amazing flavor.

  • Granny Smith Apples: Firm flesh, tart flavor
  • Braeburn: “bakes up juicy but not mushy”, sweet/tart
  • Pink Lady: stays firm and maintains a rosy color, sweet tart flavor,
  • Honey Crisp: stays a little crispy, sweet flavor
  • Golden Delicious: not as firm, but will maintain some texture while baking, sweet flavor
  • Jona Gold: firm, sweet/tart flavor
  • Motsu (Crispin): Firm texture, sweet/tart flavor
An apple crostata, on a black metal serving plate with a slice removed.

FAQ’s

What is the difference between a Crostata and a Galette?

Although both are similar free-form pie desserts that are filled with fruits or other fillings, the crostata is usually made with a cookie textured crust called “pasta frolla” and the French Galette is often made with a puff pastry or buck wheat pancake as a base.

Can crostata be made ahead?

Crostata dough can be made a day or two ahead and stored in the refrigerator until you are ready to roll it out and bake it.  If you are making jam filled crostata, you can assemble and bake it the day before you are planning to serve it.  I recommend assembling and baking the fresh fruit crostatas the day you want to serve them for peak flavor and texture.

More Traditional Italian Desserts to Try

Cannoli is one of the most popular Italian desserts and there is nothing quite as good as homemade cannoli. Making cannoli shells is certainly a labor of love, but it can be so much fun to make them with family or friends. On the other hand cannoli filling is so easy and versatile that you can use it on many different desserts.

A few other desserts that are perfect for the holidays or a special occasion are Italian Cheesecake, Panna Cotta and Italian Chocolate Mousse. You can’t go wrong with anyone of them!

I love to get your feedback so if you tried this Apple Crostata or any other recipes on this website, please leave me a comment below.  I hope you enjoy our recipes and look forward to hearing from you!

You can also follow me on FacebookInstagram and Pinterest for more recipes your family will love!

A golden brown rustic apple crostata on a dark metal plate.

Apple Crostata

This rustic Italian free-form apple pie is made with a crispy cookie like dough called pasta frolla. It is loaded with sweet cinnamony apples and baked to perfection. This will become your go to apple dessert!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Refrigerate Dough 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine Italian
Servings 8 servings
Calories 232 kcal

Equipment

  • 1 Food processor You can use a pastry blender or mix by hand

Ingredients
  

Pastry Dough – Pasta Frolla

  • 2 cups "00" Flour
  • ½ cup Sugar
  • 1 tsp Baking powder
  • ¼ tsp Salt
  • ½ cup Butter unsalted, very cold and cut into cubes
  • 1 Egg large, room temperature
  • 1 Egg Yolk
  • 1 tbsp Lemon zest

Filling

  • 4 tbsp Apple jam or preserves Can substitute apricot or other flavor
  • 2 Apples large, peeled and sliced ¼ inches thick
  • 2 tbsp Sugar
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 pinch Salt
  • 1 tbsp Lemon juice

Decorating

  • 2 tbsp Heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp Decorating Sugar or coarse sugar

Instructions
 

Dough – Pasta Frolla

  • Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and lemon zest in the bowl of a food processor with a metal blade. Pulse several times to mix well.
  • Add the butter and eggs, pulse until the mixture begins to form dough. This may take a minute or two.
  • Pour the dough onto a work surface and press together to form a ball. Press down and form a disk. Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes

Filling

  • Combine the sugar, cinnamon and salt in a small bowl and mix well.
  • Toss the apples and lemon juice in a large bowl. Add the sugar mixture and mix to evenly coat the apples and set aside.

Assemble and Bake the Crostata

  • Preheat the oven to 375°. Remove the dough from the refrigerator.
  • Lightly flour your work surface or a sheet of parchment paper and the top of the dough. Roll the dough back and forth then turn the parchment paper or the dough a quarter turn and repeat until you have a 12" disk about ⅛" thick. Transfer the parchment paper with the dough (or just the pastry dough) on to the baking sheet.
  • Spread the jam in the center of the pastry leaving a 2" border. Mound the apples in the center of the dough and fold the dough border up to secure the apple filling.
  • Brush the exposed dough with heavy cream and sprinkle with the decorating sugar.
  • Place the baking sheet on the center rack of the oven. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the dough is golden brown and the apples are tender. Allow the crostata to cool for about 15-20 minutes before serving so that the filling sets.

Notes

Recipe Tips:

  • Eggs should be room temperature so they blend into the flour easily.
  • If you don’t have a food processor you can use a pastry blender or your fingers to mix the dough. Use only your finger tips to work the butter into the flour mixture so that the heat from your hands does not melt the butter.
  • Don’t overwork the dough. Stop pulsing or mixing as soon as the dough comes together.
  • Rolling the dough out on a piece of parchment paper will make it easier to transfer the crostata onto a baking sheet.
  • When placing the apples on the dough, make sure not to add any of the liquid. This will keep the crust from getting soggy.
  • If you can, use a rimmed baking sheet so that any juices that might leak out of the crust don’t drip on to your oven. Alternatively, you can place a piece of aluminum foil on the rack below the crostata to catch any drippings.

Variations

  • I like to add the lemon zest to the crostata dough, but you can leave it out or replace it with orange zest.
  • Add another spice (such as cinnamon, nutmeg or ginger) or flavor (vanilla or almond are commonly used) to the crust.
  • Mix sliced pears in with the apples.
  • Sprinkle some raisins, dried cranberries or dried cherries into the apple mixture.
  • Substitute peaches for the apples
  • Use an egg wash instead of the cream and sugar on the dough before baking.

Nutrition

Serving: 8servingsCalories: 232kcalCarbohydrates: 29gProtein: 1gFat: 14gSaturated Fat: 8gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0.5gCholesterol: 55mgSodium: 235mgPotassium: 76mgFiber: 1gSugar: 25gVitamin A: 486IUVitamin C: 5mgCalcium: 47mgIron: 0.3mg
Keyword Apples, Cinnamon, pasta frolla, crust, rustic
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