When what matters most is getting a piece of buttery crust into your mouth as quickly as possible, the crostata should be your vehicle of choice. A crostata is a rustic free-form tart — simply a round of dough piled with a mound of fruit with the sides folded over. It’s as easy as pie… only easier!
Recently, my baker friend Rosie made a fantastic crostata with plums and nectarines ripe from her parents’ garden. Tart purple-fleshed plums oozed from a thick buttery envelope of golden pastry dough with every pinch of my fork.
Feeling particularly inspired last Sunday morning, I whipped up a copycat crostata to take over to my 88 year-old grandma. I was running a bit late, so I definitely could have baked the crostata until it was more browned.
nectarine and plum crostata
with super easy food processor crust recipe from Cucina Simpatica
* 2 sticks cold, unsalted butter
* 2 cups unbleached flour
* 1/4 cup superfine sugar
* 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
* 1/4 cup ice water
* 2 cups of nectarines, plums or any other semi-soft seasonal fruit (raspberries, figs, etc)
* 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon superfine sugar (use less, if fruit is super sweet)
* 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
prepare the crust (1-hr in advance): Cut the butter into 1/2-inch cubes. Since butter softens rapidly, return cubes to refrigerator for at least 10 minutes while you set up other ingredients.
Place the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse a few times to combine. Add the butter, tossing quickly with your fingers to coat each cube with flour, taking care not to touch the blade. This prevents the butter cubes from adhering together and helps them to break apart and combine more evenly with the flour.
Pulse 15 times, or until the butter particles are the size of small peas. With the motor running, add the ice water all at once through feed tube. Process for about 10 seconds, stopping the machine before the dough becomes a solid mass. Turn the contents of the bowl onto a sheet of aluminum foil, pressing any loose particles into the mass of dough. Roughly form the dough into a 7-inch disk.
Cover the dough completely with aluminum foil and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. The dough may be refrigerated up to 2 days or frozen up to 2 weeks (defrost for 30-45 minutes at room temperature before use). Makes 20 ounces of dough — enough for one large tart, two 9-inch shells or four little tarts.
prepare the crostata: Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Slice fruit into 1/2-inch slices. Sprinkle sugar and vanilla over fruit mixture and let sit about 20-minutes, until some juice is released. Roll the dough on a lightly floured surface to an 11-inch free-form circle (use about half of the dough from recipe above). Transfer to a baking sheet and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon sugar.
Leaving 1 1/2-inch border all around, cover the dough with the drained fruit mixture. Raise the dough border to enclose the sides of the tart, letting it drape gently over the fruit. Press down on the dough at the baking sheet, snugly securing the sides and the bottom of the pastry; be careful not to mash the fruit. Gently pinch the soft pleats that form from the draping.
Bake the tart for 20 minutes until the fruit has given off some of its juice and the dough is golden. Cool on a rock for about 10 minutes and serve while still warm and aromatic. You can brush the fruit with jam or the leftover sugar/vanilla juices, if the top looks dry.