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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- 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
- In a food processor, combine the flour, granulated sugar, lemon zest, baking powder, and salt and pulse to mix.
- Add the butter and pulse until the mixture is crumbly.
- Add the eggs and process just until the dough comes together.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, divide it in half, and pat it into two disks.
- Wrap one half in plastic wrap and freeze for another use.
- Wrap the second piece and refrigerate it for 1 hour.
- Remove it from the refrigerator and roll it out to a diameter of about 15-16 inches.
- Carefully transfer the pastry to a Silpat- or parchment paper lined cookie sheet.
- Sprinkle the toasted almonds on the dough.
- 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.
- Gather the border and crimp to encase the fruit.
- Spread some of the milk, buttermilk or beaten egg on the edges of the crostata.
- Sprinkle with slivered almonds.
- 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.
- When it cools, spread a little quince or apple jelly over the fruit to make it glisten.
- Sprinkle the edges with a little powdered sugar.