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.)
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.