Aug 2009

Peach Crostata

As someone who has never baked a classic, flaky crusted pie, the idea of preparing a crostata was appealing because its perfection lays in its imperfection. Whereas dimply or cracked crusts are seen as major cosmetic flaws on a pie, when it comes to crostatas, they’re essential for achieving a perfectly rustic product. To further add to their accessibility, Crostatas are “free-form,” and thus don’t require any special baking dishes or fancy crimping methods. All one needs is a simple baking sheet and and a trusty rolling pin.

This recipe comes from Frank Stitt’s Southern Table, a gorgeous cookbook filled with stories and recipes from Highlands Bar & Grill—my all-time favorite restaurant in Birmingham, Alabama. The recipe yields enough dough for two crusts, even though the directions only calls for one. According to Mr. Stitt, “You can prepare the dough well in advance and even freeze it with no loss of quality.” I’m looking forward to calling upon my extra dough later this summer when the abundance of ripened fruit just begs to be made into another crostata.

For the dough

  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1⁄4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 1⁄4 sticks unsalted butter, cut into 1⁄2-inch cubes and chilled
  • 1⁄4 cup ice water

For the filling

  • 1⁄4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1⁄4 cup sugar
  • 4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
  • 2 pounds ripe peaches, pitted, peeled, and sliced into 3⁄4-inch-thick wedges
  • 1 large egg yolk, beaten with 1 teaspoon heavy cream for egg wash
  • 1 tablespoon coarse or granulated sugar for topping

Prepare the dough

Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse a few times to blend. Add the butter and pulse until it is the size of small peas, about 15 times. With the processor running, add the ice water and process for about 10 seconds; stop the processor before the dough comes together. Turn the dough out onto a sheet of waxed paper, divide the dough in half, and shape it into two disks. Wrap them in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. (The dough can be refrigerated for 2 days or frozen for up to 2 weeks; if it has been frozen, defrost the dough for 30 minutes at room temperature.)

Preheat the oven to 450°F.

Roll one disk of dough into an 11-inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Transfer to a baking sheet. (Reserve the second disk of dough for another use.)

Prepare filling

Combine the flour and sugar in a small bowl. Blend in the butter with two knives until the mixture resembles coarse meal.

Place the peaches in the center of the dough circle on the baking sheet and top with the butter-sugar mixture. Begin draping the edges up and over, forming about 3 pleats. Crimp the pleats and press down to seal. Brush the pastry with the egg wash and sprinkle with the sugar.

Bake the tart for about 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool on a rack and serve slices with vanilla ice cream or crème anglaise.

Makes 6 servings.

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12 thoughts on “Peach Crostata

  1. Matt – Do you love it? I love it! I got it at Ross! The dough isn’t exactly a circle, but that’s more my fault than the rolling pin’s 😉

  2. I’m so impressed that you baked it with the fruit piled up like that. I’d have feared collapse. But the result is gorgeous, soo…I guess I should take more chances.

    I used to really adore the way that one can get white peaches at the Pasadena FM – they feel unripe but in fact they have the crunch of an apple but the flavor of a perfect peach. Amazing. I miss that market.

    Perhaps you should make some ice cream to eat with your pie?

  3. As someone who likes sweets but HATES exacting, “perfection required” recipes (a.k.a. 90% of baked goods) I def. do favor a crostata over a traditional pie (did I ever mention I made a crust that could’ve doubled as a bomb shelter?); crisps, crumbles and betties are other faux-baked-goodies I enjoy making.

  4. I just tossed a bag of peaches that had turned into shriveled dryness… cuz I didn’t feel like eating them and stuck them in the fridge. what a travesty. next time I remember your recipe, it looks like something I could undertake. bet it was good with ice cream.

  5. I am Exec. Chef at Maker’s Mark and I use a version of this recipe with apples and pears. I serve it with home-made caramel and vanilla bean ice cream.

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