I'm so crazy for crostatas right now. They're really just free form pies but there's something about the imperfect shape and the rough edges of the pastry that draws me to them. They're an ideal homemade dessert because they don't have to look perfect. I imagine them being served in the garden on a roughly hewn table next to a vase of flowers from the garden. Very Tuscan or Tyrolian.
Strawberries finally arrived at my market in masses. Lovely big, juicy strawberries. I had been waiting for an excuse to try making a strawberry crostata and now I had every reason.
I winged it on the pastry, and I have to say this pastry recipe is a keeper. You'll be seeing more of it. It's quick to make, and it rolls out smooth and easy. I only used half of the pastry dough and froze the other half. I'll keep you posted on how well that went. Best of all, it tastes great and baked beautifully.
Some juices ran even though I let the baked crostata stand before cutting it. The biggest problem was that the middle sank as it cooled. When I bake this again, I'll use 3 tablespoons of corn starch. I'll also use 1/2 pound more strawberries and make a point of folding over less of the pastry.
Our strawberries were on the sour side. They could have been a little bit sweeter. I served it with whipped cream which added sweetness, but the trickiest part of this recipe might be deciding how much sugar to use. If you have very sweet strawberries, 2 tablespoons could be enough. If they're not sweet, and you have a sweet tooth, you could easily go all the way up to 1/2 cup of sugar.
That said, we gobbled it up like we had never seen food before. This served about four little piggies. It smelled heavenly, and tasted even better.
Strawberry Crostata in Pecan Pastry
1/2 cup pecans
2 cups flour + extra for rolling out
1 tablespoon sugar
4 ounces (1/2 package) cold cream cheese
1 stick cold butter
pinch Kosher salt
2 cold eggs
In a food processor, chop the pecans until tiny. Switch to pastry blade if you have one. Cut both the butter and cream cheese into 8 pieces. Add flour, sugar, cream cheese, butter, and salt to the pecans already in the food processor. Pulse, pulse, pulse until well mixed. Add the two cold eggs and pulse until the dough forms a smooth ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour.
1 pound - 1 1/2 pounds strawberries
2-3 tablespoons corn starch
1/4 cup sugar (see comments above)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 lightly beaten egg
Preheat oven to 400. Cover a baking tray with parchment paper. Wash and hull the strawberries, then cut in half and place in a bowl. Mix the cornstarch with the sugar, sprinkle over strawberries, and turn to mix. Add the lemon juice and turn again to mix well.
Cut the pastry dough in half. Dust your surface with flour and roll out one half of the pastry in a circle about fourteen inches in diameter. Dust with additional flour if needed. It's okay if the edges are rough and uneven. Move to the parchment paper on the baking sheet (very important because it's hard to move once it's full of strawberries). Mound the strawberries in the center. Move a few further out toward the edges. Fold the pastry up over the edge of the strawberries, turning and folding until done. Brush the pastry with the beaten egg. Bake 30 minutes.
Let stand about fifteen minutes before cutting. Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
|Mix dough in food processor.|
|Pulse into a ball.|
|Fold dough up over the edges. When you do this, make your dough edges a little smaller.|
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