Friday, September 24, 2010

Rustic, Honey-Glazed Peach Crostata from Cleo Coyle

Cleo Coyle is author of the
bestselling Coffeehouse Mysteries
and Haunted Bookshop Mysteries
Learn more by clicking here.
A crostata is an Italian baked dessert tart, usually made with jam or fruit. Traditionally, the crust of this tart is a pasta frolla or a sweet, short pastry dough (aka shortbread).

This is my quick and easy version of a rustic, free-form crostata. It bakes much faster than a typical two-crust pie and is incredibly simple to make using yellow peaches, butter, and honey. Peaches, you say? Yes!

Here in NYC, Jersey peaches are still plentiful at our green grocers. My readers report peaches are still for sale in many farmers' markets across the country, and of course California’s fall harvest is in full swing.

Sweet, round, and succulent, these yellow-orange orbs (a prologue to fall's brilliant show) called to me this week. Needless to say, I answered. So let’s start cooking! 

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Cleo Coyle's
Peach Crostata


For Crostata Filling:

1 tablespoon butter

1-1/2 tablespoons honey (I use orange blossom)

2 tablespoons flour

Pinch of salt

5 large, ripe peaches skinned and diced (or 6 small)

1 egg, lightly beaten with fork (for brushing crust)

2-3 tablespoon sugar for dusting (for best result use “sugar in the raw” aka turbinado sugar)

For Crostata Crust:

One pie crust, rolled out to at least 11-inches in diameter

A traditional pie crust for an Italian crostata is a sweet, short crust pastry dough (aka shortbread), but that kind of dough with this kind of filling really needs a tart pan. For the free-form crostada you see in my photos today, you'll need a Pâte Brisée (flaky dough).  I opted for a quick and easy, pre-made Pillsbury pie crust from my grocery store.

Next month, I'll be posting a more traditional, from-scratch "pasta frolla" recipe
with a new filling. Follow this blog so you don't miss it.


Step 1 - Prepare filling: In a large saucepan, melt butter over low heat, add honey, flour, salt, and diced peaches. Gently stir for about 3 to 5 minutes to coat the peaches with the glaze and soften them up.

Before the next step, allow filling to cool. Use a slotted spoon to drain some of the excess liquid, but not all of it. This crostada bakes quickly in the oven and the butter and honey will make a more succulent crostada than baking the fruit without this honey glaze.

Step 2 - Fill tart: Place rolled out dough (about 11 inches in diameter) onto a baking sheet lightly coated with non-stick cooking spray. OR line the baking sheet with parchment paper. Mound diced peaches in the center, leaving a 2-inch border.

NOTE: A parchment paper lining on your baking sheet will make it easier to transfer the tart to a serving plate. See my *Crust Note at the end of this recipe.

Step 3 - Brush with egg and fold: Mix lightly beaten egg with a splash of water and brush the crust's border with this egg wash. Now create a rustic crust edge. Using clean fingers, lift up the border a bit and begin to pinch the dough together every inch or so around the edges, then fold down each pinched peak over the fruit (see photos below).

Step 4 - Brush and sprinkle: Lightly brush the crust again with the egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. Raw sugar will give you the best result in this recipe.

See my note below for more info on "sugar in the raw."

*NOTE: Sugar in the raw is a coarse, natural brown sugar. In the US, we call a version of this turbinado sugar. In the United Kingdom, this type of sugar is called demerara. Either way, it makes an excellent finish for baked goods, sprinkled on crusts, over the tops of cakes and pies. Read more about it by clicking here.

Step 5 - Bake: Place baking sheet on lowest rack of an oven that’s been very well pre-heated to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

The crostada will be done in 15 to 20 minutes.  Allow to cool a bit before slicing and serving right from the baking sheet. Want to move the tart to a serving plate? See my note below...

*CRUST NOTE: In this tart, the fruit is the star, not the crust, which is too thin to move without breaking. If you wish to transfer this thin-crust crostata to a serving platter, line baking sheet with parchment paper. After baking, slide paper (crostata and all) onto platter then carefully pull paper out from under crust or cut around edges for a pretty appearance.

SERVING SUGGESTIONS: This baby is delicious served with ice cream or whipped cream. Ginger whipped cream pairs especially well with the flavors in this rustic tart. Recipe below...

Pictured: Freshly made
ginger whipped cream 

with honey-kissed peaches.

Click the photo to see my
original "Drunken Peaches"
recipe post and get two more
delicious recipe ideas for
enjoying the fall harvest
of peaches from
California's growers.

Cleo's Fresh
Whipped Cream

Makes about 4 servings

1 cup heavy cream
3-4 tablespoons sugar (to your taste)
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

Place heavy cream, sugar, and ginger into
a well chilled bowl and beat with an electric mixer. The cream will thicken as you beat it. When it forms stiff peaks, you're done. Do not over beat.

Note: Chill it, baby! Using a chilled bowl will speed up the process of whipping your cream. I use a metal bowl that's been in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. I'll also put my hand-mixer's beaters into the freezer for 15 minutes.

Eat with joy!

~ Cleo Coyle, author of 

The Coffeehouse Mysteries are national bestselling
culinary mysteries set in a landmark Greenwich Village
coffeehouse, and each of the ten titles includes the
added bonus of recipes.

To get more of my recipes,
enter to win free coffee, or
learn about my books,
including my bestselling
Haunted Bookshop series,
visit my online coffeehouse:

Murder by Mocha

Now a national bestseller
from Penguin Books

For a peek at this culinary mystery's bonus chocolate recipes, click here!

"...a tasty espresso-dark tale of
multigenerational crime and
punishment lightened by the Blend's
frothy cast of lovable eccentrics."
~ Publishers Weekly

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 Roast Mortem

Includes firehouse recipes!
To see some of this culinary mystery's featured recipes, click here.

A Reviewer’s Pick 
Favorite Book of the Year ~ 2010
Now a national bestseller
in paperback from Penguin!

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Cleo's Haunted Bookshop

The Ghost and
Mrs. McClure

Book #1 of The Haunted Bookshop
, which
Cleo writes
 under the name
Alice Kimberly

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