I remember the first time that I made homemade pie crust. I was bound and determined to make Ina Garten's Deep Dish Apple Pie Recipe. I wasn't sure exactly why I wanted to make homemade apple pie so much, because, to be honest, apple pie was never my favorite, but something about the challenge of making such a classic dish from scratch appealed to me. Until that point, I had never actually eaten an apple pie made entirely from scratch, which probably explains why I never enjoyed the slices I was exposed to through the years.
Can you buy a good ready-made pie crust? Perhaps you can, but your answer really depends on what your expectations are. There's really no substitute for a homemade pie crust in my mind. A Pillsbury crust will never be better than fresh ingredients being rolled out with a rolling pin on someone's kitchen counter.
When my first homemade apple pie came out of the oven, with its perfectly browned crust and bubbly filling, I knew that I had discovered a new realm to explore in my baking - pies. Ina's crusts are delicious, and if you follow her recipes, they will always come out tasting better than the classics you remember, but they are no doubt high in fat and calories.
Ina's Summer Fruit Crostata crust (without the fruit or the topping) has 1306 total calories, 91.7 grams of fat, and 58 grams of saturated fat, and the following nutrition facts are for each slice of just the crust:
Serving Size 43 g
Serving Size 222 g
(*Scroll to the bottom to compare the two sets of nutrition facts)
Getting 73% of your saturated fat for the day in a piece of pie makes it pretty difficult to balance out the rest of your food for the day. I knew that if I wanted to be able to eat a Summer Fruit Crostata, the recipe was going to need a makeover. I started with the crust, because that's where most of the saturated fat was hiding.
Anyone who watches Barefoot Contessa knows that Ina Garten cooks and bakes with a lot of butter. There is no doubt that butter makes pie crusts taste good. People have been testing butter-based pie crust recipes for generations. But is adding a stick of butter to the crostata crust the only way to make a crust that tastes good? My answer is "no."
I turned to the friendly sweet potato to help me out with this one. Not only are sweet potatoes, well, sweet, but they are very starchy as well and I had a feeling that it would help the dough stay together and add a good amount of fiber and vitamins to the crust. I also decided to switch completely to whole wheat flour. Why not? I never eat white bread when I make sandwiches, so why should I use white flour for a pie crust? We can all use the whole grains, so I just switched it up. Whole wheat pastry flour will give you a lighter consistency than regular whole wheat flour, and I recommend using it if you don't want your crust to be too "rustic."
This recipe will make 2 crusts, so once you put the effort in to making one of them, you'll have another one to throw in the freezer. Then you can defrost it overnight a month later and enjoy another fruit crostata with half the effort!
I also gave the crumble topping a makeover by adding some rolled oats, whole wheat flour, honey, and Earth Balance. Ok, I changed the whole thing, but it's really the same idea. And I just love toasted oatmeal topping on fruit. It's just delicious.
The fruit that you use is really up to you. I used fresh peaches and blueberries, and then threw in a handful of frozen berries that I had in the freezer, including raspberries and blackberries. I haven't made this with all frozen fruit, but I suspect that I'll give it a shot this winter. You can also make this with 3 Granny Smith apples, like Ina does with her Apple Crostata Recipe. Go with what's available and sounds good together. The summer fruit is great because the berry juices get bubbly inside the crust and make a great filling.
Summer Fruit Crostata with Sweet Potato Pastry Crust (Makes 6 servings)
Pastry Crust: **Makes 2 crostata crusts
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (or a combination of pastry flour and regular whole wheat flour)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Optional: 2 Tablespoons turbinado sugar*
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 Tablespoons cold unsalted butter, diced
2 Tablespoons cold low-fat cream cheese, diced
1 Tablespoon cold Earth Balance spread
1 cup cold mashed sweet potato**
1 egg, beaten
*I didn't add any sugar to my pastry dough because I felt that the sweet potato added just enough sweetness. If you like a sweeter crust though, add a couple tablespoons of sugar to the dry ingredients.
**To prepare your sweet potato, pierce the skin with a fork on all sides and wrap the potato in a piece of paper towel. Microwave for 10 minutes, flipping the sweet potato over halfway through. Peel the skin off when the potato is cool enough to handle, and mash the sweet potato with a fork. Refrigerate the sweet potato mash until you're ready to make your crust. Don't be tempted to add warm sweet potato to the crust because it will melt your butter and make a mess.
1 pound firm ripe peaches
1/2 pound fresh or frozen berries (I used blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries)
1 Tablespoon whole wheat flour (regular or pastry)
1/2 tablespoon honey
Zest of one orange
2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice (about half an orange)
3 Tablespoons old fashioned rolled oats
1 Tablespoon whole wheat flour (regular or pastry)
1 teaspoon honey or turbinado sugar
1 Tablespoon Earth Balance vegetable spread, melted
Greek yogurt mixed with raspberry fruit preserves, vanilla extract, and orange juice
To make the dough:
1. Combine the flour, salt, cinnamon, and baking powder in the bowl of your food processor. Pulse to combine.
2. Add the butter, cream cheese, and Earth Balance spread to the bowl and pulse until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs.
Serve warm or at room temperature.
Instead of going for whipped cream with the crostata, I decided to use Greek yogurt and mix in some orange juice, vanilla extract, and raspberry preserves to make a creamy topping. I served the yogurt on the side of the slices of crostata.
Serving Size 47 g
Here are the nutrition facts for one slice of crostata after adding the fruit filling and crumble topping. The dessert high in fiber, vitamin A, and vitamin C. While each slice has 13 grams of sugar, most of the sugar is from the fruit and fruit juice. and the recipe contains only 1/3 of the sugar in the original recipe. The biggest change is in the saturated fat content - 14.6 grams in each slice of the original recipe, and only 2.6 grams in this recipe.
Serving Size 176 g