My (Italian) interpretation of apple pie with Cheddar cheese. Four layers rest over a pasta frolla crust.
Forget about pie crust: pasta frolla is so good it can be baked by itself into cookies.
There are many recipes for pasta frolla and different ideas about how to make it. The version I use in this crostata has been inspired by one in the book "La scienza in cucina e l’arte di mangiare bene" by Pellegrino Artusi (1820-1911). The book was first published in 1891, and is available in English translation as "Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well."
I enrich the basic pasta frolla with the nutty flavor of almond meal and of whole-grain barley flour.
Homemade apple butter and Cheshire cheese bring the crostata to a higher level. —pulcetta
pasta frolla (tart crust)
superfine sugar (or 1/2 cup powdered sugar)
unbleached all-purpose (regular) flour
whole-wheat pastry flour
whole-grain barley flour or AP flour
(6 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
large egg, lightly beaten
[homemade] low-sugar apple butter
2 or 3
Stayman-Winesap apples (or other kind), thinly sliced using a mandoline
freshly grated [homemade] Cheshire cheese or Cheddar cheese
Put sugar, flour, and salt in the bowl of the food processor and pulse a few times to mix.
Add butter and pulse a few times until the mixture has the consistency of coarse meal.
Empty food processor's bowl onto your work surface.
Make a well in the center of the mounded flour and butter mixture and pour the beaten egg and vanilla extract into it.
Use a fork to incorporate the liquid into the solid ingredients then use your fingertips.
Knead lightly just until the dough comes together into a ball.
Shape the dough into a flat disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Place the dough in the refrigerator and chill for at least two hours. You can refrigerate the dough overnight.
When ready to make the crostata, heat the oven to 350ºF [180ºC]
To help roll the pasta frolla, keep it on top of the plastic wrap that you had it wrapped in. This can also help when transferring the dough to your tart pan. You can also use parchment paper or you can roll the dough directly on a work surface.
If the dough is very firm, start by pressing the dough with the rolling pin from the middle to each end, moving the rolling pin by a pin's width each time; turn the dough 90 degrees and repeat; when it softens, start rolling.
Roll the dough into a circle about 1/8th inch (3 mm) thick.
If you used the plastic wrap or parchment paper as rolling surface, flip dough over a 9 or 9.5-inch [23-24 cm] fluted round tart pan with removable bottom, about 1 inch [2.5 cm] high, centering it. Delicately press it all around so the corners are well covered. Peel away the plastic wrap.
Trim the excess dough hanging over the edges of the pan. Press the remaining dough around the border into the sides of the pan making sure the border is an even thickness all the way around.
Prick the bottom of the dough with a fork in several places.
Distribute apple butter evenly over the pasta frolla.
Make a layer of apples over the apple butter.
Distribute cheese evenly over apples.
Make a layer of apples over the cheese.
Put the tart in the oven and bake for 35 minutes.
After 35 minutes, check the tart, and continue baking (checking frequently) until the tart is of a nice golden hue (45 minutes or so, depending on the oven).
When done, remove the tart from the oven and let cool slightly on a rack. If you have used a tart pan with a removable bottom, then release the tart base from the fluted tart ring.