Honey-Roasted Cardamom Apple and Brown Butter Streusel Crostata

by Meeta Wolff

This chapter is a free excerpt from What's For Lunch, Honey?.

 

I’ve led a life of a gypsy for a large part of my years. Together with my family, our wanderlust took us from Cairo to Bali, from Colombo to Kuwait, from Houston to Zanzibar. Just as I began unpacking my Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl books and found the perfect place for my posters, it was time to cram them into the aluminum and wooden chests again.

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I’ve led a life of a gypsy for a large part of my years. Together with my family, our wanderlust took us from Cairo to Bali, from Colombo to Kuwait, from Houston to Zanzibar. Just as I began unpacking my Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl books and found the perfect place for my posters, it was time to cram them into the aluminum and wooden chests again.

I never grew up aggrieved about the situation though. On the contrary, it was the most normal thing for us. The people we circulated with were, just like us, never based anywhere long enough to actually call that place home. The friendships I made were mostly short-lived, but intensive and happy. My friends and I seemed to cherish the company for we knew it would not last too long. Promises to keep in touch were made, between the half-packed boxes and bubble-wrapped paintings.

 I’d love to have them all seated around a big table, chatter and laughter resonating throughout the room as we play catch up. I’d love to have all of these people, who have touched my life, in one room and be able to sit back and think to myself “For this I would not have changed a thing!” Although I would probably cook up the biggest feast, we’d start with dessert first to make the moment sweet.  

I would probably go with this delightful crostata, the main ingredients of which were provided by...friends. The luscious apples, rosy red and aromatically sweet, were picked and packed by my girlfriend M., while the blackberries, juicy and ripe, were foraged by Soeren’s girlfriend, C., and the honey that coats and roasts the apples came from our friend T., whose hobby is apiculture. I simply put all these gifts together, giving it my twist of spiced cardamom and vanilla, and present it in a divine crostata sprinkled with a delicious brown butter streusel topping.

Ingredients:

For the pastry
  • 200g all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 170g butter, very cold and cut into cubes
  • 175ml water, ice cold
For the filling
  • 5 apples, peeled, cored and sliced
  • 100g blackberries
  • 150ml clear honey
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 3-4 green cardamom pods, cracked
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
  • 1 large egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon of water
For the streusel
  • 50g + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 30g pecan nuts, finely chopped
  • 50g +2 tablespoon muscovado sugar
  • Pinch of fleur de sel
  • ½ teaspoon cardamom, ground

Method:

  1. To make the pastry, pulse the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor. Add the cold butter cubes and pulse until the mixture is resembles breadcrumbs. Add the water and pulse just until a dough forms then turn out onto a work surface and gather the crumbs together. Do not knead the dough but quickly shape into a disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  1. In the meantime preheat the oven to 190ºC (374ºF) and make the filling by tossing the apple slices in the honey, cardamom pods vanilla bean and pod and the melted butter. Transfer to an ovenproof dish and roast till apples are tender about 15-20 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the apples to a platter and reserve the roasting liquid.
  1. Pour the roasting liquid into a small saucepan and reduce till the liquid is thick and syrupy. Set aside to cool.
  1. Make the streusel topping by mixing the flour with the pecans, and 50g sugar, fleur de sel and ground cardamom. In a small skillet, cook butter over moderately high heat until golden brown and aromatic. This should take about 2 minutes. Pour the butter over the streusel mixture and toss gently until crumbly. Refrigerate the streusel.
  1. Lightly flour a work surface and roll out the pastry to fit a small tart form or free-form to a 6 cm round. Transfer to a baking sheet and refrigerate for 15 minutes. Brush the egg wash leaving about 2 cm around the edge of the dough. Spread the apples on the pastry and place the blackberries on top. Fold the edge up over the filling, leaving the center free. Sprinkle the cold streusel topping over the apples and brush the pastry with the egg wash. Bake the crostata for 40-50 minutes, or until it is golden brown.
  1. Let the crostata cool slightly, then serve still warm with a lightly-beaten Chantilly cream drizzled with the reserved spiced honey syrup.
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