Apple Crostata with Breadcrumb Streusel – Recipe for #pieday

Apple Crostata with Breadcrumb Streusel
Apple Crostata with Breadcrumb Streusel

I love pie as much as the next person, but often I can’t be bothered with the decorative aspect of making a nicely crimped edge, latticework, etc. (Where by “can’t be bothered” I mean “I’m completely incompetent at”.) That’s where crostata comes in. It is fussless pie, made on a baking sheet instead of in a pie dish. I’ve posted about crostata before, so I’ll refer you back to the previous recipe as to how to make the dough. We’ll do a double batch and it will completely fill a half sheet pan, which makes it nice for brunch for, say, 12 people.

Today’s variation is sort of a mashup with this amazing strudel I had at Forno Marco Roscioli in Rome. The idea of breadcrumbs in a pastry appealed to me, so for this crostata, I use the crumbs to make a variation of a streusel topping. I wasn’t sure it would work out, but I ended up liking the result quite a bit. It is less sweet than a typical pie, making it a nice match for a cup of strong coffee and a plate of scrambled eggs.

I highly recommend these basic Chicago Metallic half-sheet pans (otherwise known as jelly-roll pans). They are heavy-duty, won’t warp easily, and are good for a million things in the kitchen. I use them to hold a collection of prep bowls, catch drips in the oven, bake cookies and big batches of brownies, roasting vegetables and so-on. Buy a couple and you’ll want to get rid of every other junky sheet pan you’ve every owned. You might enjoy having Silpats (reusable silicone liners) to go on them when you want non-stick.

To make the breadcrumbs, take a few slices of day-old artisan bread, such as pain au levain, and simply whiz them in the blender. You’ll probably have to tamp them down a few times. Don’t reduce them all the way to powder. The Vita-Prep makes extremely short work of this task! Please don’t make this crostata using canned breadcrumbs, I’m pretty sure that would be terrible.

Apple Crostata with Breadcrumb Streusel
Serves 12
Vegetarian and kosher 

  • Double batch of the pastry dough from this older crostata recipe, refrigerated
  • 4 apples (I used Braeburns)
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (preferably fresh ground)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup sugar + 2 tablespoons white sugar, divided
  • 2 cups breadcrumbs from artisan bread (I used a slightly stale pain au levain)
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Take the dough out of the refrigerator, let stand until somewhat pliable, then roll out to a bit larger than your rimmed baking sheet. If desired, line the baking sheet with a silpat or parchment paper. I don’t think it will stick without, but I haven’t tried it. Press the pastry into the corners and edges. Prick the surface all over with a fork. Place the sheet in the refrigerator to chill while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
  2. Peel, core and slice the apples into 24 segments each. (I start with eighths using this great item and then cut each slice into thirds.) Place the apples in a bowl and toss them with the brown sugar, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, the nutmeg and the cinnamon.
  3. When the dough is well chilled, arrange the apples in overlapping rows to cover the pastry. Sprinkle on 1/4 cup of white sugar. Bake until the apples are tender, about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, toss the breadcrumbs with the melted butter and 2 tablespoons of sugar. Remove the crostata from the oven and distribute the breadcrumbs over the top. Return to the oven and bake until the breadcrumbs are toasted, about 5 more minutes.
  4. Allow to cool, cut into squares and serve.
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Posted by Michael Natkin on Wednesday, June 20th, 2012 in Baking, Breakfast, Kid Friendly, Recipes.

15 Responses to “Apple Crostata with Breadcrumb Streusel – Recipe for #pieday”

  1. Reply
    June 20, 2012 at 10:42 am #

    I am on a new crusade to let people know that streusel is a lesser-known-but-no-less-amazing Food of the Gods. Love the breadcrumb twist to yours. My easy ratio is 1:1:1 butter/flour/sugar w/salt/spices/pinch of salt, etc. I could def see making breadcrumbs stand in for all or a portion of the flour. Happy pie party day, Michael:)

    • Reply
      June 20, 2012 at 10:48 am #

      I sure agree with you! Clearly calling what I did above a streusel is a bit of a stretch, since it is a much higher ratio of breadcrumbs to sugar and butter than is typical, but I want to keep this one not so sweet. But sign me up for streusel of any kind 🙂

      • Reply
        June 20, 2012 at 11:07 am #

        Ratios are made to be stretched. As long as they don’t *snap* it’s all good. A streusel by any other name might not be as sweet, but it’s still Food of the Gods. 😉

  2. Reply
    June 20, 2012 at 11:52 am #

    Oh I love streusel toppings on pie, and this just looks perfect. And slab pies are one of my favoritest to bake. Consider this one pinned.

    • Reply
      June 20, 2012 at 11:55 am #

      Slab pie! I never knew there was a term. Winner.

  3. Reply
    June 21, 2012 at 12:13 am #

    I love how you maintained the pie flavor without all the fuss of a pie crust…You are heaven sent! Will definitely try!

  4. Reply
    June 21, 2012 at 7:56 am #

    Lovely pie! Can your wife eat it (it has nutmeg, isn’t she allergic to all nuts?) I hope you made her a safe version… 🙂

    • Reply
      June 21, 2012 at 8:15 am #

      Good memory! Nope, nutmeg isn’t a problem, nor are any of the seeds like poppy or sesame, or coconut. It is peanuts and all of the regular tree nuts like walnuts, almonds, etc. It is an odd thing that there is a high overlap in allergies between peanuts and tree nuts because they are very far apart botanically, but true.

      • Reply
        June 21, 2012 at 9:58 am #

        I use to have something similar for about 10 years, so I really feel for your wife, been in her “shoes”. Allergy reaction is dreadful and takes a week (s) to recover. I don’t have that allergy anymore, and can eat almost all food (food, that I want to eat). Our body is a very strange “mechanism”: it turns “on” and “off” symptoms as it wishes…

  5. Reply
    June 21, 2012 at 9:26 am #

    What a delicious and delightful pie! This is such a creative pie. Good to know about the nutmeg info. I often have to be mindful of nut allergies when I bake for friends. Thanks for sharing this recipe, Michael! Happy Pie Day!

    • Reply
      June 21, 2012 at 9:59 am #

      Of course check with your friends for their specific allergies… each person may be different in this regard. As an aside, did you know that large quantities of nutmeg are sometimes used a prison hallucinogen? Apparently it makes you horribly ill, but sometimes people are desperate enough to do that. I remember reading about it in Eldrige Cleaver’s Soul on Ice a million years ago.

  6. Reply
    June 23, 2012 at 11:28 am #

    sounds so delicious! you had me at streusel:)

  7. Reply
    Bruce Bowman
    November 25, 2012 at 11:00 am #

    Hi Michael,

    Like you, I grew up in Louisville, KY, and have some of my fondest childhood memories of eating warm kucha/kuchen from the local German bakeries there. I’m wondering if you have those same childhood memories, and if you’ve ever found a recipe or tried to recreate them?


    • Reply
      November 26, 2012 at 7:45 am #

      Hey Bruce – nope, I don’t have those memories… sounds like I missed out on something good! What part of town were they in? (Germantown?)

  8. Reply
    Bruce Bowman
    November 26, 2012 at 11:33 am #

    When I was a kid in the 70s, I remember my parents getting up really early to get to the bakery before the kuchen was sold out, but now there are bakeries all over Louisville that sell it.

    Our local bakery back then, Wholleb’s, is apparently out of business, but the other bakery that I remember, Heitzman’s, seems to be thriving and still selling lots of kuchen.

    Here are some links, for those interested:
    History of Butter Kuchen (according to Heitzman’s): link to
    link to
    link to

    I got a Butter Kuchen recipe from a German friend recently, which made me dig into this topic, and I made it on Sunday. It was delicious, but not quite ready to share yet. It was not runny as the ones at Heitzman’s, which seems to be an evolution since I lived there. And the topping was just butter, sugar and cream – no oil or eggs as in the newspaper recipe. I’m sure there are many many variations. If I perfect it, I’ll let you know. 🙂

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