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Very Berry Crostata

With all sorts of berries coming into season right now in the Eastern U.S., it’s time to make this tart. Two extra containers of blackberries were unexpectedly included in my last food delivery, so I had plenty to make this tart. I actually made it twice — the first time with a purchased puff pastry shell, and the second time with this dough recipe, from Domenica Marchetti. We liked the crostata made with puff pastry well enough, but the texture of the crust with Domenica’s recipe was so far superior, retaining its crispness on the bottom after baking, that I doubt I’ll use the puff pastry again for a crostata. Plus the flavor, with its touch of lemon, is better with Domenica’s recipe. Her recipe makes enough for two crostate, tarts or pies, so keep one tucked away in the freezer. By the way, a crostata in Italy is generally presented as a tart with a lattice crust, as in this recipe for fig crostata, but many recipe writers use the term interchangeably with galette, the French word for a rustic, open-faced tart. If you’re inclined to call it a galette, go right ahead, but I gravitate to the Italian word whenever given the choice.

Roll out one half of the dough to a diameter of about 16 inches. Don’t worry if it’s not a perfect circle, just get it close enough, then slide it onto a Silpat- or parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. I put the cookie sheet in the refrigerator in the 15 minutes it took to prepare the fruit, to help the butter bits chill and solidify, making for a flakier crust.

Sprinkle the toasted almonds over the center of the pastry. It helps as a barrier to keep the crust from getting soggy, but also adds more flavor and texture.  Mix the berries with sugar, lemon juice and cornstarch.

Carefully place the fruit in the center of the crust, over the almonds, leaving a border of about two inches all around. Flip up the border, pinching it together all around the perimeter.

Brush it with a liquid like beaten egg yolk or milk. I had buttermilk in the house, so I used that. Press some almonds all around the edges.

Placement in the oven is very important in order not to have a soggy bottom. Place the crostata on the bottom rack of  a 375 fahrenheit degree oven for a half hour. Then remove it to the highest rack for another 15 minutes. You may get some spillage of the liquid, as I did, if any of the edges had a split, as happened when I poked my nail through the crust. Don’t worry about it though, there will be plenty of other juice within the crostata.

After it has cooled, carefully slide it off the Silpat or parchment paper onto a serving dish. The fruit has a “dull” appearance when it comes out of the oven, but to give it a “glistening look,” melt a bit of quince or apple jelly and spread it on top of the fruit.

Here’s a photo of the bottom crust to show you how well baked it should be if you follow the directions exactly.

Sprinkle the edges with some confectioner’s sugar and dig in.

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Very Berry Crostata
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • FOR THE PASTRY (Domenica Marchetti's recipe makes enough for two crostate)
  • 2½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • Finely grated zest of 1 small lemon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon fine salt
  • ½ cup cold unsalted butter, cut into dice
  • 2 large eggs
  • FOR THE BERRY FILLING:
  • 4 cups fruit (I used two cups strawberries, and the rest a mix of blueberries and blackberries)
  • ¼ cup slivered almonds, toasted, plus more for the top
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon grated lemon peel
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • FOR THE TOP:
  • 1 tablespoon buttermilk, milk or beaten egg
  • slivered almonds
  • powdered sugar
Instructions
  1. In a food processor, combine the flour, granulated sugar, lemon zest, baking powder, and salt and pulse to mix.
  2. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture is crumbly.
  3. Add the eggs and process just until the dough comes together.
  4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, divide it in half, and pat it into two disks.
  5. Wrap one half in plastic wrap and freeze for another use.
  6. Wrap the second piece and refrigerate it for 1 hour.
  7. Remove it from the refrigerator and roll it out to a diameter of about 15-16 inches.
  8. Carefully transfer the pastry to a Silpat- or parchment paper lined cookie sheet.
  9. Sprinkle the toasted almonds on the dough.
  10. Mix the ingredients for the filling and pile on top of the slivered almonds inside the dough, leaving a border of about 2 inches all around.
  11. Gather the border and crimp to encase the fruit.
  12. Spread some of the milk, buttermilk or beaten egg on the edges of the crostata.
  13. Sprinkle with slivered almonds.
  14. Bake on the lowest oven rack at 375 degrees for 30 minutes, then remove it and place on an upper rack for another 15 minutes.
  15. When it cools, spread a little quince or apple jelly over the fruit to make it glisten.
  16. Sprinkle the edges with a little powdered sugar.
 

Very Berry Tart

 “It’s spring! It’s spring!” Babar, the king of the elephants says one sunny day he opens his window and sees that the leaves and flowers seem to have opened overnight. Don’t ask me why that line stands out to me, (maybe because I read it hundreds of times to my kids), but that’s what I think of when I see this tart. It’s as pretty as a fine spring day, and tastes equally delicious too, with its luscious lemony filling.

The crust is really special too – it’s the same one I used for the ricotta tart I made for Easter from Domenica Marchetti. But I blind-baked it first this time, then added the filling. After you’ve placed the dough into the tart pan, use a fork to prick it all around.
Spray one side of aluminum foil with Pam, or butter it lightly, then press it down over the dough and add some beans or rice to keep the dough from puffing up during the baking.
Remove it from the oven and let it cool completely before adding the filling. (Hint – if you want to take the easy way out – go buy a pie crust all ready for the oven. I won’t tell. But Domenica’s crust recipe is so much better than anything store bought.) The filling is a snap to make, since all you do is open a jar of lemon curd and mix some of it with mascarpone cheese.
Now comes the fun part – arranging the berries in a pretty design.
Spread some clear or light colored jelly over the berries and chill before serving.
And don’t forget to open the windows to enjoy the spring flowers that seem to have opened overnight.

 

Very Berry Tart
tart crust:
Domenica Marchetti’s recipe:
  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • Finely grated zest of 1 organic lemon
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 large whole egg
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • Note: This makes a lot of dough – enough for two tarts. Or make one large one and several small ones, or one large tart and use the rest to make delicious cookies that taste like shortbread.
Put the flour, sugar, salt, and lemon zest in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse briefly to combine. Distribute the butter around the bowl and pulse until the mixture is crumbly. Add the whole egg and egg yolks and process until the mixture just begins to clump together in the work bowl.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and briefly knead it together. Without overworking it, shape the dough into a disk, patting rather than kneading it. Wrap tightly in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or until well chilled.
Remove the chilled dough from the refrigerator and cut it in half. You’ll need only one of these halves for this tart. Use the rest for another tart, freeze it, or make small tarts or cookies.  On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to fit a tart pan with a removable bottom (mine was 9 inches in diameter, but you can use a smaller one) Gently press the dough into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Use the rolling pin or the flat of your hand to press around the perimeter of the pan to cut off any excess dough. Prick the bottom all around with a fork. Put the lined tart pan in the refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes.
Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. I “blind-bake” the crust by buttering some aluminum foil and pressing that lightly over the raw dough. Then add some beans or rice to weigh it down. Bake for about 10 minutes, then remove the foil and beans and bake for another 10 minutes or until lightly golden. Remove from oven and let it cool completely before adding the filling.
filling:
8 ounces mascarpone cheese
1 cup lemon curd
berries for top
light colored jelly or jam for glaze
Blend the mascarpone and lemon curd together with a whisk. Spread it over the baked tart crust.
Top with berries (I used a combination of raspberries, blackberries, strawberries and blueberries), arranged in a pretty design. Spread a light colored jelly or jam over the top. I used homemade quince jelly, but apricot or apple or orange would be fine too. Warm it in the microwave first to loosen the jelly a bit so you’ll be able to spread it better.