Perfect for dessert emergencies, crostatas can be made quickly and easily with pantry staples—butter, sugar, flour—and just about any fruit you have on hand. I’ve used apples, plums, pears, peaches, fresh figs, and berries (fresh or frozen). Don’t forget to defrost and drain thoroughly all frozen fruits before placing them on the dough. A topping of whipped cream or ice cream would be a nice finishing touch.
- Preheat the oven to 450°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or butter it generously. In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, pulse together 1/2 cup of the sugar with the flour and salt. Add the butter and pulse 3 to 5 times, until the mixture is crumbly. Pour the water through the feed tube, 1 tablespoon at a time, and pulse until the dough begins to hold together. Remove the dough, shape it into a ball, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 1 hour. (If you are in a huge hurry—which I often am—freeze the wrapped dough just long enough to prepare the fruit filling. It will be a little harder to work with, but it’s an acceptable trade-off when time is short.)
- Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces and roll each into a ball. Use your hands to press the dough into 1/4-inch-thick rounds on the prepared baking sheet. Each round should be about 6 inches in diameter. If you are using berries, leave the fruit whole. Larger fruits can be left unpeeled, but must be sliced so they can fit neatly in the center of the crostata. Spoon 1/4 cup of the fruit into the center of each round, leaving a1 1/2-inch border all around the edge. (If using larger fruits, place 3 to 4 slices of fruit in the center of each crostata.). Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup sugar evenly over the fruit on each crostata. Fold the dough edges toward the center, making 3 separate flaps. With your thumb and forefinger, firmly pinch together the seams between the folds.
- Brush exposed dough with the cream, and sprinkle with demerara sugar. Bake the crostatas for 12 to 14 minutes, until brown around the edges. Cool the crostatas on the baking sheet for no more than 10 minutes or they will be difficult to remove whole. Serve warm or at room temperature.
- If I have a little extra time, I make apple crostatas this way: Core and slice 2 medium apples. Put 3 tablespoons butter in a medium sauté pan. Add the apples and 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar, and stir over medium heat until the apple shave softened, about 3 minutes. Put one-quarter of the apple mixture on each of the dough rounds and proceed as directed above.
- Strawberries and bananas are two common fruits that do not work in this recipe. Baking strawberries makes them watery; bananas become dried out.
Recipe by Rebecca Rather