Saturday, December 5, 2009

A Lotta Crostata(s)

I think one of the best things to happen to the home baker is the crostata. Essentially an open face pie, sort of resembling a tart. It's an ace in the hole, "oh, you shouldn't have gone to the trouble" dessert that leaves you smiling, accepting complements while thinking, "gee, it took about 5 minutes"

A single or double recipe of pie dough is all you need to throw together a beautiful dessert at a moments notice. Sounds easy, but but pie dough? Takes practice, right? Don't worry, I have you covered.

A simple pie crust filled with the fruit filling of your choice. Sometimes as easy as slicing up a bunch of apples, tossing in a little brown sugar and spices before piling it high in the center of a crust and dotting with a bits of butter.

Other times you can utilize a recipe that requires a bit more time and ingredients. The above is an almond paste that I recently tried....

...for a beautiful fig crostata. (thank you Martha) Slightly nutty with the sweet almost grape-y essence of black mission figs.

(gratuitous fig shot)

This pie dough recipe changed my pie making experiences and you should really try it. It's a Williams-Sonoma recipe, that I've changed a bit. It suggests rolling the dough as soon as it's mixed together. Not having super chilled dough makes it easy to roll out. Sometimes I'll roll it out and freeze it on a 12" or 14"cake circle well wrapped with plastic so I have them when the mood strikes. If you want a round larger than 12" you'll want to double the recipe and have pie scraps left. Yummy with cinnamon sugar. If you have the freezer space go ahead and set the dough into your pie plate and crimp the edges. Let the frozen dough thaw in the fridge and proceed with your recipe.

Basic Pie Dough
1 1⁄4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 Tbs. sugar
1⁄4 tsp. salt

8 Tbs. (1 stick) cold unsalted butter (stick it in the freezer for awhile)

3 Tbs. very cold water (I use the fridge water and add a few ice cubes, depending upon how dry your flour is you may need to slowly add more a teaspoon or so at a time)

To make the dough by hand, in a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar and salt. Using the large holes on a box grater grate the butter directly into the flour mixture. Rub together with your fingers until the texture resembles coarse cornmeal, with butter pieces no larger than small peas. Add the water and mix just until the dough pulls together. It may appear a bit shaggy still but that's okay.

Dump the dough onto a lightly floured work surface, and gently pat into a ball and flatten into a disk. (Although many dough recipes call for chilling the dough at this point, this dough should be rolled out immediately for the best results.) Lightly flour the work surface, then flatten the disks with a rolling pin. Lift the dough and give it a quarter turn. Lightly dust the top of the dough or the rolling pin with flour as needed, then roll out into a round at least 12 inches in diameter and about 1/8 inch thick. Makes enough dough for one 9-inch single-crust pie or one 10-inch crostata.

Proceed with the recipe of your choice.

1 comment:

Emily said...

Ah, yum!!! I love the fig. Where did you get yours? I can only find the dried ones at Trader Joes - not black mission figs...the other ones. Will have to try your recipe. Thanks Jenn!