I didn’t make this mixed berry crostata. My husband made it. But it is my recipe. Well, not so much MY recipe, as one I tore out of a magazine years ago and adopted for life. Okay, so I can’t take credit for any part of it, except coveting the crostata and marrying the right man. And sharing this recipe with you just in time for the last gasp of the berries.
I admit I felt a petty flicker of territoriality when Chris declared he was making MY crostata. It’s not the first time he’s made an impressive dessert that won the hearts and minds of our friends and family. Still, I am de facto minister of the interior in our household, much as I might gripe about it. Dessert is my area. But he is ever-gracious when I nose in on his territory (of late: grilling, and photography). Better to let him set the tone around here. Way better. Besides, anyone who complains about having this dessert made for them needs serious professional help. God knows I don’t want that, so I had to get over myself and say thanks. Wow. This tastes like a perfect Oregon late-summer day, with sugar on top.
This crostata is my kind of dessert. Note the butter content, and the rough-hewn look. As we already established with the Chocolate Cookie Sandwiches, I’m missing the gene for concocting even, uniform desserts. My layer cakes lean and sag. The flutes on my pie crusts are lopsided. I don’t decorate. If you are similarly afflicted, don’t despair. There are plenty of single-layer cakes or “it’s supposed to look like that” dessert options for people like us. You got your crisps and your cobblers, clafoutis and now…crostatas. Leave the dainty confections to the pros. This lumpy dessert has a beauty all its own. It elicits enough “oooohs” and “aaaahs” to make you feel good about yourself. You’ll want more than one slice. You’ll want some for breakfast, too. I’ll lay money on that.
I have used this crust with nectarines and berries in summer, apples in fall, even pears and cranberries at thanksgiving. This particular mixed berry filling was my favorite (even if I can’t take credit). The tangy blackberries add some sass and steer things away from getting too sweet. A dollop of whipped cream for cool richness, and you’ve got yourself a home run. This crust never fails. The cornmeal gives it some tooth, and citrus zest is always fun at parties. The crust stands up to whatever fruit you load into it. You can actually pick up a slice of the crostata and eat it with one hand. It’s that hearty (in a good way, not in a dental-work-inducing kind of way). And if your loved one is inspired to make this for you….don’t argue.
MIXED BERRY CROSTATA
adapted from this recipe in Bon Appetit
1 2/3 cups all purpose flour
3 tablespoons polenta (coarse cornmeal)
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon (packed) grated orange or lemon peel
3/4 teaspoon salt
14 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/3 cup (or more) ice water
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
4 1/2 cups mixed berries (We used blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries.)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg, beaten to blend (for glaze)
1 tablespoon sugar, for sprinkling
Whisk together first five ingredients in a large bowl.
Add butter. Using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut butter into dry ingredients until the butter is reduced to pea-size pieces. (You can also use a food processor for these first two steps, if you’re so inclined. Just don’t cut the butter too small.)
Add 1/3 cup ice water. Stir with a wooden spoon until dough comes together in moist clumps, adding more water by teaspoonfuls if dough is dry.
Gather dough into ball; flatten into disk. Wrap; chill for about an hour. If it’s too stiff to roll out, let it warm up a little. If it’s too sticky, chill it longer.
Meanwhile, stir sugar and cornstarch in a medium bowl to blend. Mix in fruit and vanilla. Let stand until juices are released, stirring fruit occasionally, about 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Roll out dough on lightly floured sheet of parchment paper to 14-inch round, turning dough occasionally to prevent sticking. Slide the paper and dough onto a baking sheet.
Using a slotted spoon (it gets a little too wet if you add all the juice), spoon berries into a ten-inch circle in the center of dough. Brush 2-inch border of dough with egg glaze. Lift about 2 inches of dough border and pinch to form vertical seam. Continue around tart, pinching seam every 2 inches to form standing border. Fold border down over fruit (center 6 inches of fruit remains uncovered).
Brush folded border with egg glaze; sprinkle with sugar.
Bake until crust is golden brown and fruit filling is bubbling at edges, about 50 minutes.