Monday, July 11, 2011

Summer Crostata

It’s Summer. Summertime is good for a lot of things. Beach vacations, pool parties, ice cream dinners, sunset walks and picnics. Summer is also great for baking. Berries just don’t taste the same way in the winter.  They do, however, taste fantastic in fruit tarts, crostatas and crumbles.  

Or accompanied by heavenly Angel food cake. See what I did there? Well, since it’s summer time in Atlanta, which means 100 degrees Fahrenheit on a regular basis, fruit currently dominates my baking shenanigans. Aside from the occasional cookie batch.

Crostatas are basically the same thing as American pies. Except they’re Italian, making them seem more sophisticated, right? Right. Crostatas can be made with pretty much any kind of (preferably home-made) pie dough. Roll out pie dough, fill with fruit, fold edges of dough over fruit, brush with egg wash, sprinkle with sugar, pop in oven, sit around and be patient and taadaaaa: crostataaaa! Not nearly as complicated and time intense as making a pie.

So, here we go!
To make the dough use a pretty big bowl and mix up flour, salt and sugar. There is no need to sift the mix unless your flour is extremely clumpy.

Chop up butter that came out of the freezer or at least the fridge.

Add butter to dry ingredients and combine. This will take a while and some serious butter-between-thumb-and-index-finger-rubbing. Next, add the cold water and combine with the rest of the dough. Shape into a disc (for quicker cooling) and wrap in plastic wrap.

Ideally the dough should go in the refrigerator for an hour. If you’re pressed for time it could also just go in the freezer for about half an hour.

Now, once the dough is chilled, it can be rolled out on lightly floured surface or just a counter-top. It doesn’t have to be a perfect circle, just kind of round. Carefully transfer the dough to the baking sheet with the help of a spatula and possibly another person...

To prepare the fruit, cut it up in bite size pieces. Mix it with cornstarch, sugar and lemon juice (some lemon or lime zest also work well) and pour onto the middle of the rolled out dough.

Fold over the edges, brush with egg wash, and sprinkle with coarse sugar aaaand done.

Well, almost.

Now, all that needs to be done is putting the crostata in the oven. Wait, wait, wait...

And then there it is! Warm, fruity, crunchy, sweet deliciousness.

The recipe also works well for little individual crostatas. Just pull the dough into five to six individual parts before rolling it out. It looks kind of messy, but once they come of the baking sheet and into the mouth, no one cares about appearance anymore…To get the full range of all the fantastic summer fruit that’s available right now, berries can be exchanged for (Georgia) peaches, apricots, pineapple, nectarines or whatever else floats your boat. It’ll still be delicious. I promise.

I took a big crostata over to my food neighbors the other day and it was substituted for dinner. The four of us finished it in about three hours. That includes the hour from 10 to 11 p.m., during which we mainly ate directly from the baking sheet. It’s that good!

Summer Fruit Crostata
adapted from shutterbean's triple berry galette
Pie dough
-       2 ½ cups of all purpose flour
-       1 teaspoon of salt
-       1 tablespoon of sugar
-       2 sticks (8oz) of unsalted cold or frozen butter, cut up into small pieces
-       about a ¼ cup of ice cold water

In a large bowl combine flour, salt, and sugar. Add the butter and crumble until most of the butter pieces are covered in butter and more or less incorporated.
Add the ice water slowly but steady and mix it into the dough. Lastly form the dough into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and put into the refrigerator for at least an hour.

Berry Crostata
-       1 pie dough
-       1 container of strawberries, cut up into bite size pieces
-       1-2 container of blueberries
-       1/3 of a cup of sugar
-       2 tablespoons of cornstarch
-       1 tablespoon of lemon juice
-       1 pinch of salt
-       1 slightly beaten egg
-       2tablespoons of milk
-       2 tablespoons coarse or turbinado sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Toss the strawberries, blueberries or other fruit with cornstarch, lemon juice and sugar. Make sure this is well mixed. Put it to the side while preparing the dough.

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured work surface and transfer onto a parchment paper or aluminum foil lined baking sheet.

Pile the berries on top of the rolled out dough, leaving about 2 inches on the sides as a border. Fold over the edges and create a crust. Try to pinch the folds together to secure the pie dough from falling apart.

Brush the egg wash (pinch of salt, egg, milk) onto the sides of the dough and sprinkle with turbinado or other coarse sugar. Bake in the oven for about 50 to 60 minutes, until the filling starts to bubble up and the crust is golden brown.

Let cool for a few minutes and serve with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream or plain. 

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