If you’ve been reading me for a while, you know I tend to make a huge stink about pie dough. How I can’t roll it out, how I don’t have the magic touch (like Craig’s dad), how even after learning all of the rules–keep things cold, move the dough around as you roll it–it rarely works out for me.
Well, the other day I had a breakthrough. It went something like this: I saw ripe nectarines and plums from my CSA on the counter and realized they were just on the verge of becoming overripe. So I decided to whip up a crostata and I told myself not to think too much about it.
Into a food processor I placed two cups of all-purpose flour, a pinch of salt, and a bigger pinch of sugar. To that, I added 1 1/2 sticks of cold butter that I cut into cubes; tossing them a bit in the flour before putting the lid back on.
Then I pulsed until the butter looked like peas, with a few larger pieces here and there. Then I took some ice water and began drizzling it in, pulsing a few times, and then checking to see if the dough held together when I clumped it in my hand. It did.
I dumped the dough onto a piece of plastic wrap dusted with flour and I used the plastic wrap to shape it into a disc. (If I had to do it again, I’d use aluminum foil to do that step; I saw a chef use aluminum foil on the episode of Great Chefs I watched recently on Hulu and it’s easier to maneuver than plastic wrap.)
Into the fridge went the disc, and then I set about cutting up the fruit. No fuss: just into wedges, then into a bowl with a few tablespoons of sugar (3 or 4), a pinch of salt, and a tablespoon of flour.
Once the fruit was prepped, I took the pie dough back out of the fridge (I didn’t let it chill the requisite hour; remember, this is a casual crostata). I laid a piece of parchment on my wooden cutting board (I would’ve rolled directly on it, but it smells a little like garlic) and dusted the parchment with flour. Then I put the dough on it and made sure it was really a solid disc before I started rolling. If there are crevices in the middle, it’ll split apart.
So you press out with a rolling pin from the center, rotate the dough, press out from the center, and keep doing that, dusting with flour as you need to until it looks like this:
Not bad, right? After piling up the fruit in the center, I realized that the ratio of dough to fruit was way off; I had less fruit than I thought I had. So I used a knife to cut a circle around the fruit, leaving about 2 inches on all sides. Then I folded the dough over the fruit like so:
You’ve gotta admit that’s pretty cute. And casual.
The oven was at 400 and before sliding it in on a cookie sheet, I brushed the crust with cream, sprinkled it with sugar, and dotted the fruit with another tablespoon of butter cut into cubes.
About 45 minutes later, you have this, a perfect summer dessert:
You’ll know it’s done when the crust is golden brown and the fruit juice is bubbling.
Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and pat yourself on the back for being so casual about crostata-making. Turns out, there’s not that much to it.