Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Farm Stand Crostata


You see some interesting things on the road if you take the time to notice. Case in point this, for lack of a better word, bikenest.


We saw this in a parking lot in Phoenixville on our way to Lancaster County last weekend. I just love it! Part vehicle, part nest, all statement of individual freedom! 
We couldn't hang around to see the owner however, because I was on a mission to visit some farm stands. Peaches, plums and blueberries are at their peak right now and I've been seeing too many photos of crostata's on the interwebs not to give it a go myself. 


We snagged a bounty of blueberries and stone fruits as well as some gorgeous tomatoes. While I had my pick of what to put in the crostata I decided to go with the blues, peaches and plums. These would be the stars of the show and I knew I needed a crust that was not only going to hold up to these summer gems but also enhance the completed project.

That's where corn flour came in to the picture. I bought a bag of Bob's Red Mill corn flour a while back just to fool around and try using it in different recipes. This corn flour is not corn meal, it's ground much finer. Nor is it corn starch, although I have seen some recipes call for corn flour when they are actually referring to corn starch. 


I started with a basic pie dough and substituted 1/2 of the flour with corn flour.  At one point I thought I should have gone with a recipe that had an egg in it but all my fears were dispelled; it was a dream to roll and held together beautifully once baked. The texture was tender and delicate, the flavor sweet and full of, as my sister described it "character". In short, it was a perfect match for the luscious, local fruit. 

Farm Stand Crostata

1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons corn flour
1 Tablespoon cane sugar, plus 1 more for sprinkling
1/2 cup very cold butter, cut into small pieces
2-4 Tablespoons ice water
4 cups fruit (I used a combo of blueberries, peeled and  sliced peaches and sliced plumbs)        
2-6 Tablespoons sugar (depends on how sweet your fruit is)
2 Tablespoons cornstarch (maybe a little more if you added   more sugar)
1 egg

Give yourself a few hours because once the dough is made it needs to be refrigerated for at least an hour. Combine flour, corn flour and sugar in a large bowl. Add the butter and quickly work it in with a pastry cutter or your hands until the mixture forms a course meal. You could also use a food processor, I just like getting my hands into things. Add the water one tablespoon at a time until the dough comes together. It should hold together but not be sticky. It'll seem a little more crumbly than other pie doughs you may have made, that's due to the corn flour. Flatten the dough into a 4 inch disk, wrap in plastic and chill for an hour or overnight.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Have your fruit ready: rinsed, peeled, sliced and in a large bowl with sugar and cornstarch nearby as well as your egg, cracked and beaten. Roll the chilled dough out on a floured board or a piece of parchment paper (it makes it easier to get into the oven) to a 14 inch round.  

Sprinkle sugar and cornstarch over fruit and gently fold into fruit. Fill center of dough with fruit, leaving a two inch rim of dough. Fold dough over filling in 3 or 4 inch sections; apply some egg wash and press gently to seal.
Brush the outer rim with egg wash and sprinkle with remaining sugar. If you were smart and used parchment paper just gently lift it up and transfer to a baking sheet. I like to bake dangerously so I used the bottoms of two tart pans and airlifted it that way, what a rush! Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until the crust is golden and the fruit is bubbling. Makes about 8 servings and it was just as good on Monday morning for breakfast as it was for dessert on Saturday night.


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