Monday, September 27, 2010

The Prodigal Pastry and a Peach-Blueberry Crostata

I learned (or uh, re-learned) a valuable lesson this past weekend. Have a back-up. That's it... have a back-up. Turns out that I had no back-up for my #1 favorite simple dessert of all time: the Peach Crostata. I made it, like, 47 times last year.* So many times you'd think it would be committed to memory by now. But no, my brain doesn't work that way. That's why I have this blog. The original link to the recipe was here on the blog, right where I put it last summer. When I clicked on said link last weekend though, I was given the option of purchasing the article containing the recipe or subscribing to the newspaper for full access to all their archives. What? Deep breath. It's o.k., I wrote it down... somewhere. No time to search, so I quickly threw together the Peaches & Herbs Shortcake instead.

The shortcake was a fine substitute but I was still mighty vexed over the apparent loss of the crostata recipe and the next few days were spent tearing the house upside-down looking for it. At least there was some comfort in the thought that, should I not find it, I could buy it. Harumpf. I seriously considered purchasing the article, even though the thought of it riled me up like a wet cat. That's how much I liked that recipe.

Well, the lost became found. Sort of. I finally located my notes yesterday, scribbled into one of the six or seven partially filled notebooks that seem to float from room to room here like indecisive specters. It's not a good system but I'm working on it, I really am. New habits (at least the good ones) take time. Backing-up is a very good habit. Favorite recipe? Save it to a file, be it paper or digital, or better yet, both. Don't ever be caught without your favorite pastry recipe at your fingertips. Save yourself that particular panic and back it up... today.

Prodigal Pastry Crust
(makes two crusts)

3 cups flour, plus more for rolling out
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
4 Tblsp sugar
1 cup butter, chilled
2 eggs
2 tsp white vinegar
4 Tblsp ice water

By Hand: Sift first four ingredients together. Shred the butter into the dry ingredients with a grater and cut in using a pastry blender. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs, vinegar and ice water together, then pour over the dry mixture. Stir until the dough starts to clump together. Mixture will still be extremely loose.

By Food Processor: Pulse first four ingredients together. Cut the cold butter into small pieces and add to the dry ingredients. Pulse a few times until the butter is in lentil-sized pieces. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs, vinegar and ice water together, then pour over the dry mixture. Pulse until the dough starts to clump together a little. Mixture will still be extremely loose.

Turn dough out onto a floured board and knead/press it just until it holds together. Divide dough in half and shape each half into a disc. Wrap dough in plastic and let rest in fridge for at least an hour. If you are only making one crostata now, wrap the other disc of dough in a two layers of plastic and stash it in the freezer until you need it. Consider it back-up.

Blueberry-Peach Crostata
makes 1 rustic pie

1/2 recipe of Prodigal Pastry Crust 
4 large ripe peaches
1/2 cup blueberries
1 Tblsp lemon juice
1/4 cup flour
3/4 cups sugar, plus more for sprinkling
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger or cardamom
  1. Take the pastry dough out of the fridge and let it sit for about 15 minutes before unwrapping and rolling out. If your dough is frozen, move it to the fridge a good 24 hours ahead of time
  2. While dough is resting, prep the fruit. Cut the peaches in half and remove the pits. Slice each half into 6 wedges. Gently toss the peach slices and blueberries in a bowl with the lemon juice.
  3. Whisk the flour, sugar and spices together and toss with the peaches and berries. Set aside.
  4. Roll pastry dough out to a roughly circular shape, somewhere around 12 - 14" across, then move it onto a Silpat lined baking sheet. Arrange the fruit across the top of the pastry, stopping about 2 inches from the edge.
  5. Fold the edges of the pastry dough over the fruit, making folds every few inches. Brush the top of the folded dough with a little water and sprinkle with regular or decorative sugar. Sometimes I'll skip this step and just dust it with powdered sugar before serving.
  6. Put pan with assembled crostata in the fridge while oven is preheating to 400°.
  7. Bake for 15 minutes at 400°, then drop oven temp to 375° and bake for another 20-25 minutes or until crust looks golden. Take out and let rest for 15 minutes, then carefully move it off of the pan and onto a rack to cool. I find it's easiest to serve this on a cutting board, slicing it with a big pizza cutter.  
*That's an exaggeration. I think the actual number was closer to 14. Seriously, I made it with every fruit I could think of over the next six months. I almost renamed my blog "The Crostata Project". O.k. that's not true, I didn't even consider it. I did tell everyone who would listen how incredibly easy, versatile, and universally loved this dessert is. And that is no lie.
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  1. "That is why I have this blog"...AND my big sister! :o)

  2. Sharkbait: Yep, I'm gonna start calling you my Biological External Hard Drive!


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