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Peach Blueberry Crostata

October 2, 2012

This post is dedicated to our friend Ira.

How many times have we all heard that the only thing in life that  we can count on is change?  It’s probably best illustrated by the changing of seasons.  In the farmer’s market, it’s always a little bittersweet at the end of a season, but then we turn and see what the new season offers.

This crostata was made with very late-season peaches.  They probably won’t even be around by next Sunday. And after eating luscious peaches all summer out of hand, and including them in fruit salads, green salads, and all manner of baked desserts, what to do?  The peaches were divine in coffee cakes, cobblers, and crisps.  So I guess this is the last hurrah for peaches before we move on to crispy apples and aromatic pears.

The idea of a crostata beckoned.  A crostata is an Italian term for a free-form, rustic-looking, open, fruit-filled (usually) tart (sort of).  Then there’s a galette.  Guess what?  A galette is a free-form, rustic-looking French tart.  Hmmmm.  Sounds strangely similar to a crostata.  In both, fillings can be either sweet or savory.  So this post could easily be titled Peach Blueberry Galette.  Very straightforward to create in either Italy,  France or in the country your kitchen lives.

This was inspired by The Barefoot Contessa (oh, just reduce the massive quantities of butter, she’s a true light) and by the blog, Simply Recipes (a solid resource). And it was very slightly adapted from Paula Shoyer’s, galette recipe, found in her book, The Kosher Baker . What does kosher baking mean exactly? It refers to desserts that are dairy-free and can be served after a meat course, thus keeping within Jewish kosher dietary laws.

If you’re going dairy-free, find a dairy-free margarine that’s as healthy as possible (any suggestions?). Using either butter or margarine, the key is for it to sit in the freezer for a while before cubing it. It’s the key to making a dough you can work with and can work with you. GOAL: A dough that plays well with others.

Go for pea-sized bits.

rollin’ rollin’ rollin’

Croatia Caracas Crostata dough awaits filling

Thank you peaches, it’s been a good season

Add a bit of arrowroot for thickening

Neither from an arrow nor a root (though, that is a possibility) arrowroot does help retain fluids. Will this crostata require a water pill?

just a spoonful of sugar…

… okay, maybe two.

A little almond paste dotted over dough adds an extra layer of flavor. Surprise the palettes of those you love!

Ain’t that sweet? In a good way

All tucked in and ready for bed oven.

(I’m clearly having fun with the strike-through feature.)

Where did the rustic pleats go?

Ladies and gentlemen, grab your forks

Thank you, Ira for your being open, free-form and aware of all the possibilities. Qualities we all would do well to emulate.

Peach Blueberry Crostata

thanks to Paula Shoyer’s, The Kosher Baker

Ingredients:
Dough:
1 1/4 c. unbleached flour
1 1/2 t. sugar
1/2 t. salt
6 T. butter or best-quality margarine (stay away from the trans-fatty stuff), cut into small 1/2″ cubes, chilled in freezer 30 minutes to 1 hour before using
6 T. ice water
 
Filling:
3 c. fresh fruit –  in this case, 2 c. yellow peaches, not overly ripe, sliced into 1/2″ slices and 1 c. blueberries
2 T. sugar
3/4 t. arrowroot (a natural thickener found in the spice section of many markets) or 2 t. cornstarch
1/2 t. vanilla
1 T. almond paste (optional) (found in some markets and food specialty shops)
1 egg
1 t. raw or turbinado sugar (optional)

Directions:

To make the dough, place flour, salt, sugar in bowl of food processor, fitted with metal blade.  Pulse until mixed.

Add and pulse cubed butter until the dough  is about the size of peas.  Slowly add ice water, a spoon or two at a time, pulsing after each addition until dough just begins to clump and looks like clumps of couscous. Dough does not have to come completely together.  Gather into a ball.

Take a large piece of plastic wrap and sprinkle a little flour on it.  Place the dough ball on the plastic wrap, wrap plastic around it and then flatten.  Place in freezer for 20 minutes.

With oven rack in middle position, preheat oven to 425° .

Place peach slices and blueberries in bowl and sprinkle with sugar and arrowroot (or corn starch).  Toss gently to coat.  Sprinkle vanilla extract over fruit.

In a small bowl, briefly whisk egg  and set aside.

Take a large piece of parchment paper and sprinkle with flour.  Remove the dough from the plastic wrap, place on top of parchment, sprinkle some flour on the dough and place a second piece of parchment on top.  Roll out dough to about a 12″ diameter. (Thanks to Paula Shoyer for this practical method.)

Peel back top parchment once (or twice) to sprinkle some more flour while rolling to prevent sticking.  Roll from center outwards, keeping it in the shape of a circle.

If you are using almond paste (not necessary, but a delicious touch), dot the middle 6″ circle of dough with the almond paste.  Arrange fruit in the center of the dough circle, and spread it outward, leaving a 2-3″ border on the outside.

Take a small section of the dough border (about 2″) and fold it over the fruit, leaving the fruit filled center open.  Pick another 2″ section of the border and press one section into the next to seal it, so that you end up with accordian-like pleats.

Use a pastry brush to coat the exposed dough with the egg wash.  (You can use the leftover egg to make a scrambled egg snack.)

Sprinkle pastry with coarse sugar, if using.

Carefully slide crostata on parchment paper onto rimmed baking sheet (make sure you have a large one ready),

Place in oven and bake for 23-26 minutes, until nicely browned.

Remove from oven and cool on the baking sheet over rack for about 20 minutes.  Slice wedges to serve.

Store covered in fridge. That is, if you have any left. Terrific with vanilla ice cream.

bb notes:

When filling crostatas or galettes,  just as with tarts, your imagination or a good search engine will yield a bounty of choices. A few fruit versions I’ve tried, in addition to peach or nectarine with blueberries are:

  • Italian prune plums with almond paste
  • Apples with golden raisins
  • Apples with dried cranberries
  • Pears with almond paste

If you enjoy baking, take the time to find a container of almond paste. It’s delicious and adds a surprising kick to any dish that would welcome almonds. Plus, it has a good shelf life and and would make a happy home in your pantry/kitchen cabinet. If you don’t readily find it at the market or at a specialty food shop in your area, check it out online.

Arrowroot is something  found in the spice section of a well-stocked market, but it’s not a spice. It’s a thickening agent that doesn’t clump up as cornstarch sometimes does (no offense, cornstarch). It costs a bit more but you need a lot less.

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