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By the Book: Jennifer Katzinger’s Apricot Cherry Crostata

August 23rd 11:08am, 2014



I’ve always been skeptical of any recipe claiming to make dessert healthier. After all, I eat dessert as a sweet, decadent treat – a reward for my valiant attempts to eat healthy-ish all day. I initially scoffed at Jennifer Katzinger’s Honey & Oats, thinking that any baked good that didn’t allow me to use all-purpose flour or granulated sugar just wouldn’t taste the same as its original inspiration. But the more I read her cookbook, the more intrigued I was.




Honey & Oats advocates using whole grains and natural sweeteners. As a woman who thinks her bag of unbleached AP flour can conquer all baking projects (I learned the hard way it can’t be substituted for bread flour.) this was an education. Katzinger starts her book with a list of whole grains and whole-grain flour options, including the familiar rolled oats and barley to the more obscure einkorn and spelt flour. Most of Katzinger’s recipes for everything from breakfast muffins to cakes to pie crust call for some combination of the latter two flours. She’s also a proponent of natural sweeteners like honey, maple syrup and coconut palm sugar.




Since it’s pie month here at Sauce – and my crust-crimping skills leave something to be desired – I opted for the pie’s more rustic cousin, crostata. Katzinger packs hers with bright apricots and cherries, perfect since I’d just returned from a Michigan vacation with roughly five pounds of that sweet red fruit.




The butter almond crust called for a little more than one cup of light spelt flour, which admittedly proved tricky to hunt down in the baking aisle (Hint: top shelf, but not in an Uncle Bob’s Red Mill bag as expected). It also required almond flour and coconut palm sugar, both readily available at my local grocery.




The crostata process itself was the same as any other pie recipe; combine dry ingredients, pulse in cold butter and ice water, refrigerate and roll out on a floured surface. The most time-consuming part was peeling the apricots and pitting the cherries, all easy enough tasks. The end result was a gooey, beautifully rustic (read: messy) open-faced pie that smelled of mid-summer fruits.




My only issue was transport; Katzinger states this is the perfect dessert to take on a summer picnic, as it’s easy to pack and transport. However, after an hour in the car to a friend’s home, the crostata had spread significantly, gaining another inch or two all around. Upon serving, it looked less like a rustic pie and more like a fruit pizza. Even so, the flavors were divine. The crust was pleasantly nutty and toothsome, and the coconut palm sugar had an unexpected, molasses-like quality akin to brown sugar. Perhaps I could get used to this healthy dessert idea, especially now that there’s an open bag of spelt flour in my cupboard.




Apricot Cherry Crostata
Makes 1 13-inch crostata

8 fresh apricots
Butter Almond Dough (recipe follows) for a single-crust pie
2 Tbsp. light spelt flour
¼ cup coconut palm sugar, divided
1 cup (8 oz.) pitted, halved fresh cherries
¼ cup fruit juice-sweetened apricot preserves

• Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
• Fill a medium saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Prepare a bowl of ice water and set it aside. Cook the apricots in the boiling water until soft, about 1 to 2 minutes. With a slotted spatula, remove apricots to the bowl of ice water. After they have cooled, about 5 minutes, peel, halve, and pit them. Cut each apricot half into 3 wedges.
• Roll the dough out on a well-floured sheet of parchment paper to a 13-inch round. Slide a rimless baking sheet underneath the parchment. Combine the flour with 1 tablespoon of the coconut palm sugar and sprinkle over the dough.
• Arrange the apricot slices, rounded side down, on the dough, leaving a 3-inch space around the edge. Arrange the cherries over and around the apricot slices. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of coconut palm sugar over the fruit.
• Fold 2 inches of the dough over the crostata to create a border around the fruit (the fruit should remain uncovered) and sprinkle with the remaining tablespoon of coconut palm sugar.
• Bake until the apricots are tender, about 50 minutes.
• In a small heavy saucepan, over low heat, warm the preserves until melted, about 5 minutes. Strain into a small bowl, then brush the strained preserves over the top of the crostata. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Butter Almond Dough
Makes 1 9-inch single-crust pie

1 cup plus 1 Tbsp. light spelt flour, or ½ cup einkorn flour and ½ cup plus 1 Tbsp. light spelt flour
¼ cup almond flour
1 tsp. coconut palm sugar
½ tsp. salt
½ cup (1 stick) cold butter, cut into ¼-inch thick pieces
3 to 4 Tbsp. ice water

• In a food processor, combine the flours, coconut palm sugar and salt. Pulse a few times to blend. Evenly distribute the butter over the dry ingredients. Pulse (starting and stopping the motor) until the mixture resembles small peas, about 6 or 7 pulses, each lasting 3 seconds. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl. Sprinkle the ice water onto the pastry 1 tablespoon at a time, blending with a fork after each addition. The dough will be crumbly.
• Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and mound it with your hands. Form into a disc roughly 5 inches in diameter. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours to chill and firm the dough.

Reprinted with permission from Sasquatch Books

What healthy version of an indulgence has most surprised you – for better or worse? Tell us in the comments below to win a copy of Honey & Oats.

By Catherine Klene

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7 Responses to “By the Book: Jennifer Katzinger’s Apricot Cherry Crostata”

  1. Katie Says:
    August 25th, 2014 at 6:09 pm

    I tried making about 10 different versions of vegan bread in an attempt to make healthier bread. Epic fail. Each loaf was so ladled with healthier grain options that you really couldn’t eat more than one piece and that’s not even taking into account the fact that the loaves were rock hard as well.

  2. Lisa Says:
    August 26th, 2014 at 6:58 pm

    I found a recipe for deep dish chocolate chip cookie pie. It uses garbanzo beans, applesauce and oats in place of flour and a much lower amount of sugar in addition to the typical butter, eggs and baking soda. I was very skeptical until I tasted the results. It was surprisingly good. It even fooled my kids.

  3. Jennifer Carter Says:
    August 29th, 2014 at 4:35 pm

    I love my spelt flour pie crust. I have always had issues with attaining the perfect crust when using white flour so I was skeptical that it would work, but this one is a winner EVERY time and it has a wonderful nutty flavor. Now I use spelt in almost everything.

  4. Kathy Ziegenmier Says:
    August 29th, 2014 at 4:41 pm

    I tried making black bean brownies and they were disgusting!! Possibly there’s another recipe out there that might have better results, but I haven’t had the nerve to try again.

  5. Shannon Says:
    August 29th, 2014 at 5:50 pm

    I made chocolate chip cookies with garbanzo beans once. Did not compare to the original! Always looking for healthier substitutions though.

  6. Dionne Says:
    August 29th, 2014 at 6:12 pm

    Anytime a recipe calls for cream cheese, I use neufchatel instead. Even though it’s almost always marketed as a reduced fat cream cheese, it’s really just its own sort of cheese. It gets used in my pimento cheese dip and frostings, and it’s just as indulgent. I’ve passed along the recommendation to my other kitchen-inclined friends, and I haven’t looked back since.

  7. Cheryl Curik Says:
    August 29th, 2014 at 6:44 pm

    I love the healthier version of flavored yogurt. I use non fat Greek yogurt and add agave nectar, a little vanilla nd lots of cinnamon. Fabulous – and a great base for lots of fruit – chopped apples, peaches, and blueberries. Yum. Much better than the sugar-laden commercial flavors.

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