Summer Berry Crostate

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These individual crostate, or free-form rustic tarts, are a mainstay of my dessert repertoire. With the same appeal as a traditional individual pies, they somehow seem like an easier, less stressful endeavor since there are no pie plates or pans involved and no fastidious edge crimping required. (If you have them, you can bake the crostate in 4-inch tartlet pans, but it’s not necessary.) The pastry is a buttery pâte sucrée, rich with egg yolks and slightly sweet with more sugar than a conventional pie crust. I have used a mixture of summer berries here, but vary the filling as you wish. Blueberries, blackberries, and peaches or nectarines, for example, also make for a lovely and yummy summer fruit filling. Enjoy these crostate for dessert, as a snack, or even as a luxurious vacation breakfast with cream or yogurt. This recipe also makes one 10-inch crostata. The baking time will be slightly longer, but the same doneness signs apply.

Makes about 16 crostate

Pâte Sucrée

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted cold butter, cut into pieces

4 to 6 tablespoons cold water

2 large egg yolks

Filling

6 cups mixed fruit, such as sliced strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup cornstarch

Juice of 1 lemon

Pinch of salt

1 large egg yolk mixed with 1 tablespoon heavy cream

Sanding or Coarse sugar for sprinkling

To make the pâte sucrée, combine the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Add the butter and process until crumbly. The butter pieces should be no bigger than the size of small peas or lentils. Whisk together the water and egg yolks and, with the machine running, add to the butter and flour mixture. Process just until the dough comes together. The dough should not be dry, but if you find that it is, add additional water, about 1 tablespoon at a time, and process until it comes together. Turn out onto a large sheet of plastic wrap, press into a disc, wrap tightly. Chill in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours.

To finish the crostate, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.

To make the filling, gently but completely toss together the fruit, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, and salt.

To assemble the crostate, using about 1/2 or 1/3 of the chilled dough at a time, roll the dough on a lightly floured surface to nearly 1/4 inch thick. Cut out circles about 6 inches in diameter and transfer them to the prepared baking sheets. Re-roll the dough as needed, trying not to overwork it. If the rounds seem to be getting warm or soft, set them in the refrigerator to chill while you continue to roll and cut. Divide the filling among the rounds, mounding it in the centers, leaving about 1/2- to 1-inch rims. Fold the edges of the dough up over the filling, folding and crimping it as you go to create pretty circles. (If the pastry seems too soft and warm, set the crostate in the refrigerator to chill for about 15 minutes before proceeding.) Brush the egg yolk and cream mixture over the edges of the crostate. Sprinkle the pastry and the fruit with sanding sugar. Bake the crostate until the filling is bubbly and syrupy and the crusts are golden brown, 35 to 45 minutes.

Remove from the oven and set aside to cool for at least 10 minutes before serving. (If you did bake the crostate in tartlet pans, allow them to cool for about 10 minutes before carefully removing them from the pans while still a bit warm.)   

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