Extremely Easy Rhubarb and Cherry Crostata – a Genuine Recipe
“Genuine recipe” is because the chowder in the last post wasn’t exactly conventional in the instuction department. “Extremely Easy” is because I’m feeling a little guilty about the fabulous-but-you-do-need-a-stand-mixer Celebration Bread.
So. This free-form fruit and jam tart takes about 10 minutes to put together and is impossible to screw up. The crunchy crust is made in the processor, rolls like a dream and is child’s play to handle. The rustic look means it always looks great; and although the post title says “rhubarb cherry,” you can also make blueberry peach
or just about any other combo that takes your fancy.
EASY FRUIT AND JAM CROSTATA
The dough recipe makes enough for 2 crusts. Filling is for 1 roughly 10 inch round crostata, which will serve 6 to 8. (Tightly wrapped, extra dough keeps well in the fridge for 2 days or the freezer for about 3 months.)
½ lb. (1 c.) cold butter
2 c. all purpose flour
½ c. cornmeal
¼ c. sugar
½ tsp. salt
¼ c. ice water, in a 1c. measuring cup
About ½ c. thick jam or fruit preserves *
3 c. juicy fruit, cut in ½ inch chunks or 1/3rd inch slices if it’s not berries*
1 tbl. flour
1 to 2 tbl. sugar, depending on sweetness of the fruit (the jam is the primary sweetener)
Make the Dough:
1. Cut the butter into 10 or 12 pieces, spread on a plate and put in the freezer to stay cold. Put the flour, cornmeal, sugar and salt in a processor fitted with the steel blade and whirl to mix.
2. Distribute the butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until you have coarse crumbs. Break the egg into the water and stir with a fork to break it up a little, no need to beat it smooth. With the motor running, slowly pour in the egg water. Continue to process just until the mixture starts clumping together.
3. Dump clumps out onto a dry (no flour) work surface, divide into two piles and gently compress each pile into a disk. If you want to keep moving onward without delay, wrap the extra disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate or freeze. Otherwise wrap them both.
Make the Crostata
1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. If dough is cold, let it warm up just enough to roll easily. Place 1 disk of dough between two sheets of waxed paper and roll into a rough circle about 1/8th inch thick. A little thicker is better than a little thinner. Put the waxed paper dough sandwich more or less flat in the freezer and leave it until it’s firm; 5 minutes or so. (If there’s no room in the freezer, the fridge is fine; it just takes a little longer.)
2. While the dough is chilling, prepare the fruit, peeling and cutting as necessary, then mixing well with the flour and sugar.
3. Peel off 1 sheet of waxed paper, replace it lightly, flip the dough and remove the second sheet of paper. Replace it with a sheet of parchment paper and flip again, onto a heavy baking sheet.
4. Spread the jam in a roughly 9 inch circle in the center of the dough, leaving an empty margin @ 2 inches wide. Top the jam with the fruit, spreading it into an even layer.
5. Fold the edge over, nudging errant fruit toward the center, pleating occasionally as necessary. Bake until fruit is bubbling and crust is a rich gold-brown, 30 to 40 minutes.
A Few Fruit and Jam Combo suggestions
Rhubarb: black cherry, plum, strawberry, orange marmalade
Raspberry: peach, orange marmalade, thick apple butter
Blueberry: peach, apricot, blueberry (add lemon juice to keep the crostata from being too sweet)
Cherry: rhubarb, apricot, lemon or orange marmalade, peach
Peach: raspberry, blueberry, apricot, cherry, gooseberry
The interior walls of our big outdoor oven have roughened over years of use – aka being whacked by Leslie with the hoe used to rake out the coals – and will probably get a new clay coating this summer.
That shiny thing in the back is the strip of flashing we use to wall off smoldering coals when we want to leave some in the oven. (A large pork butt followed the crostatas and cooked slowly overnight to become quantities of pulled pork, a very useful product to have in the freezer.)