If you like bready things, you’ll love this pastry-and this pizza pie. It’s a yeasted pastry, based on the French pastry used for galettes–thin tarts made with all sorts of different toppings. It can be mixed easily right in your food processor. (Don’t be surprised if you start using it for regular pizza–that’s how good it is.) Like any yeasted dough, it rises for about an hour, then it’s rolled out and covered with a layer of very thinly sliced apples. It’s baked just like that for about 10 minutes, then covered with Gruyere or cheddar cheese and baked for about 5 minutes more. I sometimes spread a layer of sauerkraut over the apples just before I sprinkle on the cheese. The combination of the apples, cheese, bready crust, and kraut is sensational. This is best eaten warm, but it can be cooled on a rack and gently reheated later. But do eat it the same day you make it; the crust is not a great keeper. Unusual and delicious, it makes a great party dish.
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 golden delicious or other firm-textured cooking apples, peeled and cored
1 tablespoon sugar
Pinch of ground cinnamon
Big pinch of finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
2 cups sauerkraut (optional), drained and warmed
2 cups grated gruyère or extra-sharp cheddar cheese
1. If you haven’t already, prepare the pastry and set it aside to rise for 1 hour. Meanwhile, lightly oil a large baking sheet and dust it with the cornmeal.
2. When the dough has risen, without punching it down, turn it out onto the center of the baking sheet. Using oiled fingers, press the dough out into a 13-inch circle, smoothing it, if you like, with a floured rolling pin. Try to keep it of even thickness; you want to avoid making thin spots you can see through. Pinch the dough around the edge, forming an upstanding rim. Refrigerate the dough for 10 minutes. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
3. Dot the surface of the dough with the butter. Halve the apples lengthwise. Place each half cut side down on a cutting board land cut into very thin slices. Arrange the slices on the crust, overlapping them slightly. Mix the sugar, cinnamon, and rosemary together in a small mixing bowl and sprinkle evenly over the apples.
4. Place the baking sheet on the center oven rack and bake for 8 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees. Remove the pizza from the oven and sprinkle with the sauerkraut, if using. Sprinkle evenly with the cheese.
5. Bake the pizza for another 5 minutes, until the cheese has melted nicely; it shouldn’t bubble. Do not over bake since this is a buttery, porous dough, it tends to get fairly brown after about 15 minutes. Slice into wedges and serve as soon as possible.
Of apple pies and tailgate parties:
I’m a big fan of tailgate parties–so much so that I’ve actually written a handy laminated guide to throwing your own tailgate party, complete with recipes and tips. (you can read more about it at my web site www.duraguides.com)
Shameless self-promotion aside, an apple outing really is a great venue for a tailgate party. I’m thinking specifically about a day trip to a local orchard where you can pick your own apples and perhaps join in the festivities if the orchard is sponsoring a special day of events, which orchards often do in the fall.
Tailgate parties are all about friends and food, so invite other families to join you. Come up with a menu, divvy up the cooking duties, and don’t forget the essentials, such as bagged ice, cutting boards, plastic forks and knives, and garbage bags. If the weather promises to be cool, hot soup is one good course. Sandwiches–wraps or regular–are easy to make and portable. Everyone likes a good old American potato salad, and serve apple pie for dessert, of course, along with plenty of hot spiced cider to drink.
To keep the kids busy and happy, bring along stuff they can do, disposable cameras are a hit. Face paints are fun, too and don’t forget the Frisbees, mitts and softball blankets, and lawn chairs for when mom and pop need a break.