DEAR JEANNE: This is an easy way to make apple pie, and my family loves it. However, I am trying to use only whole grains, and I wonder if this could be revised to use whole-wheat flour and less butter. Thank you! – Marianne A., Champaign, Ill.

APPLE CROSTATA

CRUST:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

10 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 tablespoons ice water

FILLING:

4 apples, peeled, halved, cored and sliced

1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar, divided use

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon allspice

1 large egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon of water (egg wash)

2 tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted

To make the crust: Mix the flour, sugar and salt in a processor. Add the butter. Pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the ice water and pulse until moist clumps form. Gather the dough into a ball; flatten into a disk. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 400. Combine the apples, 1/2 cup of the sugar, the lemon juice, cinnamon and allspice in a large bowl. Set aside for 10 minutes.

Roll out the dough into an 11-inch circle. Transfer to a large baking sheet. Spoon the apple mixture over the dough, leaving a 2-inch border. Fold the dough border over the filling, leaving the apples in the center exposed. Pleat loosely and pinch the dough to seal any cracks. Brush the crust with the egg wash and sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar. Bake the crostata until the crust is golden and the apples are tender, about 40 minutes. Sprinkle with the toasted almonds.

Makes 8 servings.

DEAR MARIANNE: This is a “rustic” version of apple pie, but it looks very nice and is easier to make. The type of apple is important, and I like one with a sweet tang, like Golden Delicious, because they already are so sweet. I find that whole-wheat pastry flour works very well in many recipes. However, when the fat in a crust is reduced, you can end up with a hard, tasteless “plate” for your filling, so the key is to add a tenderizing element. In this version I tried low-fat ricotta cheese, and everyone really liked the results. Adding the egg wash and sugar to the edge may seem a little too fussy to some, but it improves both the look and the texture, and is well worth the effort.

IMPROVED APPLE CROSTATA

CRUST:

1 1/3 cups whole-wheat pastry flour

1 tablespoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup cold butter, cut into small cubes

1/2 cup low-fat ricotta cheese

1 tablespoon cold water

FILLING:

4 apples, cored and thinly sliced (peeled or not, as preferred)

1/3 cup sugar

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

EGG WASH:

1 egg white

1 teaspoon water

1 teaspoon sugar

TOPPING:

2 tablespoons sliced almonds

1. In a food processor fitted with a steel blade, pulse the flour, sugar and salt to combine. Add the butter and pulse until no more large pieces remain. Add the ricotta and water, and pulse just until combined. Pour dough out onto a piece of wax or parchment paper and knead very briefly, just until all the dry flour is incorporated. Shape into a disk, wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

2. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Spray a large, heavy baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.

3. Combine the sliced apples with the sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon and allspice. Set aside.

4. Place the chilled dough on a piece of parchment paper, and place another sheet on top. Roll out the dough into an 11-inch circle. Remove the top piece of paper, and place the crust side on the prepared pan. Peel off the top piece of paper and top the crust with the apple mixture, leaving a 2-inch border. Fold the border over onto the filling, pleating loosely and pinching the dough to seal any cracks.

5. Beat together the egg white and water, and brush over the edge of the crust. Sprinkle with the sugar.

6. Bake for about 30 minutes, until crust is lightly browned and apples are tender, then sprinkle the almonds evenly over the apples. Bake for another 10 minutes, until almonds are lightly browned.

Makes 8 servings.

Each serving contains approximately: Original Recipe: 358 calories; 19 gm fat; 73 mg cholesterol; 174 mg sodium; 44 gm carbohydrates; 4 gm protein; 2 gm fiber. Revised Recipe: 252 calories; 10 gm fat; 27 mg cholesterol; 147 mg sodium; 37 gm carbohydrates; 5 gm protein; 5 gm fiber.

Send your recipe for revision to: Cook It Light, P.O. Box 1212, La Jolla, CA 92038. Please include a stamped (61 cents), self-addressed envelope.

– King Features Syndicate