Summer Dessert Heaven
by Pamela Morgan, Flirting with Flavors
Who doesn’t love pie? Especially in the summer, when fruit practically begs to be piled into flaky pastry and baked until bubbling with jammy goodness. But let’s be honest. All that rolling, double-crusting, and edge crimping can be a pain. I’m no baker. Spare me the trouble!
Why not skip the fuss and make yourself a crostata? All that fruity deliciousness is simply folded into a rustic tart that’s practically impossible to mess up.
The best part? The charm is in the imperfection! Even when the juices leak (they always do!) and the crust is uneven, you still have a dessert people will fawn over.
Take a look at how easy it was to throw together this Strawberry-White Peach beauty. By the way, I used this combination of fruit because it was what was most beautiful at the market that day. That’s what’s great about summer— just choose what looks most in season and you’re guaranteed to win.
The first step is to bake a basic pie dough. If you have a stand-by recipe, go ahead and use it. I experimented with a sour cream version inspired by Smitten Kitchen, and I’ll never go back. The sour cream adds great flavor and tenderness.
Simply pulse the dry ingredients in the food processor, add cubed (cold!) butter, and pulse until large pea sized butter pieces remain. A few more pulses to incorporate the sour cream and ice water and you’re done.
Don’t overmix or over moisten— the mixture is ready when it just holds together when you squeeze it in your palm.
Dump the mixture out on floured surface and work it into a ball, being careful not to overdo it. The ball then should be flattened into a disk, wrapped, and chilled for at least 1 hour before rolling.
Meanwhile prep the filling! I skinned my peaches, but honestly, if you don’t mind the texture, you can leave the skin on! If you’d like to take off the skins, just pop the peaches into boiling water for a few seconds until the skins burst. Then flash them in ice water before rubbing off the skin.
Slice up the peaches and toss them with the strawberries, sugar, lemon juice, zest, and vanilla. Try not to eat all of this mixture. It is hard.
When the dough is cold, roll it out to a circle about 1/4″ thick and transfer to a baking sheet. Dump the fruit in the middle and fold over the edges to keep everything contained. A little egg wash and a sprinkle of raw sugar are a nice touch too!
After about 45 minutes in the oven, look at what we’ve got! Bubbly, juicy, flaky heaven. Waiting for it to cool enough to slice is absolute torture.
Enjoy with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, of course!
Strawberry-White Peach Crostata
For the pastry (adapted slightly from Smitten Kitchen):
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon table salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- Zest of half a lemon
- 8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 3 to 4 tablespoons cold water
- 1 cup strawberries, hulled and halved
- 4 white peaches
- 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
- Zest and juice of half a lemon
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 egg for egg wash
- Raw sugar, for sprinkling
- Pulse the flour, salt, sugar and zest together in a food processor. Pulse in the cubed butter until mixture resembles a coarse meal and the largest bits of butter are the size of large peas. Pulse in the sour cream and 3-4 tablespoons water. Dough should just stick together when squeezed in your palm. Pour mixture out onto a floured surface to knead the mixture into a rough, craggy ball. Wrap in plastic and flatten into a disc. Chill in the fridge for 1 hour or up to 48 hours, or you can quick-firm this in the freezer for 15 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. If skinning the peaches, prepare an ice bath. Bring a pot of water to a boil, then blanch peaches just until their skin bursts, about 20-30 seconds. Transfer to ice bath and then remove skins. Pit and slice peaches. In a large bowl, toss peaches with the remaining filling ingredients.
- Once dough has chilled, place onto a floured work surface. Roll to about 1/4″ thick, then transfer dough to a baking sheet. Pour fruit filling into the center of the dough and fold up edges to contain the filling.
- In a small dish, beat a egg with a tablespoon of water. Brush this over crust, then sprinkle with raw sugar. Bake crostata for about 40-45 minutes, until golden brown and bubbly. If juices spill out, don’t panic!
- Allow to cool for about 10 minutes before slicing. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream.
Cookbook author and entertaining expert, Pamela Morgan is the owner of NYC based Flirting with Flavors, where she offers exclusive cooking parties, inspirational seminars and special events. She is highly regarded as a special event planner, culinary consultant, cookbook author, and is a food & entertaining editor for Hamptons’s Cottages and Gardens. Pamela sees food as a flirtation: sexy, provocative, and a little mysterious. Her desire is to teach you how to flirt your way into a full on passion for cooking and entertaining! Visit her web site for recipes, entertaining inspiration and much more.