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Italian crostatas are rustic free-form tarts that can't be ruined by poor pastry makers. If you tear the dough as you roll it, there's nothing to worry about. Just press the torn parts together and keep rolling. As long as you can get something that resembles a round onto a baking sheet, you're on your way to a fine crostata. This open-faced tart, spread with peaches or prune plums, apples, or roasted vegetables with a little parmesan, begins with a food-processor pastry dough that couldn't be more forgiving. After the filling goes onto the rough round, fold up the edges to encase the fruit and send it to the oven brushed with milk and sprinkled with sugar. If the finished confection looks asymmetrical, that's part of the charm. This pastry recipe can be topped with roasted vegetables and a little parmesan, which I have done, absolutely delicious! Use your imagination. This recipe courtesy of the Boston Globe Magazine.
Makes one 10-inch tart
- 1 1⁄2 cups flour
- 1⁄4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1⁄4 teaspoon salt
- 1⁄2 cup unsalted butter, cut up
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
- 2 tablespoons ice water
- flour (for sprinkling)
- 6 large peaches
- 1⁄4 cup flour
- 3⁄4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons whole milk (for brushing)
- In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the flour, baking powder, and salt just to sift them.
- Scatter the butter over the flour mixture. Pulse the mixture just until it resembles crumbs. Add the sugar and pulse just to mix it in .
- In a bowl, beat the egg, vinegar, and ice water. Sprinkle the liquids over the flour mixture. Pulse the processor just until the dough forms clumps. It should not come together to form a ball.
- Turn the clumps out onto a lightly floured counter and knead them gently until smooth. Shape them into a disk, wrap in foil, and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Use as directed.
- Halve the peaches and remove the pits. Cut each half into 6 pieces and transfer them to a large bowl.
- Sprinkle with flour, 1/2 cup of the sugar, and lemon juice. Toss gently.
- Set the oven at 400°F.
- Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- On a lightly floured counter, roll the pastry dough into a 12 inch round. Lift it onto the rolling pin and transfer it to the baking sheet. Refrigerate the pastry for 5 minutes.
- Arrange the peach slices on the dough on their sides, in neat rows, making the rows as close together as possible. Leave a 1 1/2 inch border around the edge. Fold the border up over the fruit. It will pleat onto itself in places; that's OK.
- Brush the exposed dough with milk. Sprinkle the fruit and dough with the remaining 1/4 cup sugar.
- Bake for 15 minutes. Turn the oven down to 375°F.
- Continue baking the crostata for 20 to 25 minutes or until the peaches are tender and the pastry is golden brown.
- Let the crostata settle for 5 minutes. Transfer it, still on the parchment paper, to a wire rack to cool.
- Preparation time includes 30 minutes refrigeration of dough.