Lately, I’ve been looking for a simple dessert that can hold during transport to cookouts and picnics, but also won’t make me melt in the kitchen in the process. I’d usually whip up an ice cream, but my ice cream maker is packed away because I’m moving soon (it’s gotten enough use this season anyway), so that’s not an option for the time being.
In fact, looking around my tiny studio, I started to notice that I’d certainly jumped the gun and almost everything — including my stand mixer— was packed. At my easy disposal, I had a rolling pin and a bag of sugar. Some would have called these circumstances limiting; I called it a challenge.
Being the confident baker that I am, I tend to make pie dough in large batches and freeze it for future endeavors. I’ve always taken a liking to making my own dough (pasta, pies and so on) since it’s such a simple process, but it tastes much better than what you can usually find at the grocery store.
Optimistically peeking into the freezer, I saw one lone pack of dough waiting for me. Sadly, my most prized possession and go-to, a gorgeous ceramic pie dish from my grandmother, is also tucked safely away. It seemed like I was out of options.
Clearing my head, I headed to the Greenmarket where I snagged some amazingly juicy peaches from Fishkill Farms, some blackberries from Berried Treasure and brainstormed some easy desserts that don’t require tools, or effort, really. The result: a peach crostata. Originally an Italian dessert, crostatas are, in my opinion, a simple dessert that looks and tastes seriously impressive. Basically, you pile the prepared fruit in the center of a pie crust and fold over the edges. Thanks to their free form, I consider them to be pies without limitations, or an actual dish in this case.
Serve alone or with a dollop of whipped cream. A scoop of vanilla ice cream is also encouraged.
Makes one personal size crostata
1 1/3 cups all-purpose or pastry flour (I like to chill mine beforehand)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup ice water, as needed
Using a pastry cutter or a fork, stir together the flour and salt. At this point, I ditch the fork and use my hands, adding the butter and mixing until it resembles coarse meal. Slowly stream in cold water, until the dough barely comes together. Remove from the bowl and knead with your hands until the dough is a smooth and cohesive ball. Refrigerate for a minimum of 3 hours to rest the gluten, or up to 3 days (I even stick mine in the freezer if I want to keep it longer). When ready, lay down some parchment paper and roll your dough to the thickness of ¼ inch, trying to keep a circular shape.
Fills one personal size crostata
1-2 peaches, sliced (or another stone fruit)
½ cup of blackberries, halved (or other berries)
1/8 cup sugar
1 tsp flour
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 egg yolk mixed with 3 tbsp water (egg wash)
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit. Toss the peaches, blackberries, sugar, flour and vinegar together gently in a large bowl while taking care not to obliterate the blackberries. Place the mix in the center of your rolled out pie dough (leave a couple inches between your pile and the edge of the dough), and fold the edges over the fruit while leaving a window tin the center. Egg wash the dough with a brush or with your hands and bake at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes, or until crust is golden brown and fruit mixture is bubbling. Cool, and slice like you would a pie. I like serving mine with a little whipped and sweetened ricotta.