Aug 13 2013

A Morphable Crostata

If you look closely, you’ll notice slight differences among several of the photos. The first few pictures show a crostata heaped with blackberries and apricots on a layer of apricot jam. Yet, the apricots magically morph into peaches in the baked crostata photos. Let me explain.

Justin and I went wild blackberry picking a few weeks ago at Working Hands Farm. Their new farm property is ringed with blackberry bushes (some are nearly trees), bursting with cherry-sized fruit. We picked 13 pounds of blackberries in 30 minutes. After eating a few pounds and making a small batch of blackberry jam, I still had 6 pounds of perfectly ripe blackberries seeking a home. As I often do in these situations (fresh fruit seeks baked good companion), I turned to Kim Boyce. A picture of her boysenberry and apricot crostata is prominently featured on the back of Good to Grain, and a closer inspection of the recipe revealed that I already had almost everything I needed: apricot jam, a few pounds of just-purchased apricots from the Shemanski Farmers’ Market, and, of course, wild blackberries, whose floral, perfumey flavor is similar enough to boysenberries for an easy substitution.

A warning – this recipe is time-consuming to the point where you might look though the photos but click (or flip, if you own the book) away as soon as you start to read through the directions. It helps that I already had apricot jam open in the fridge.

Technically speaking, it’s not a challenging recipe, but you should plan to start the dough in the morning if you want the tart for a late afternoon snack or for dessert. Because the dough uses rye flour, a flour with a wet and crumbly nature, the dough and subsequent tart must firm up several times over in your fridge or freezer. Because of these timing challenges, I pulled out the two crostatas just as we were heading out the door to a dinner get-together. It was only when I was back home, cleaning off flour from the counter, that I realized I hadn’t taken a photo of the just-baked crostata.

So, what choice did I have but to bake it again? I still had some blackberries on hand, and when I went to the market, I bought juicy peaches instead of apricots. (Really, any stone fruit and dark berry combination should work.) I was fully aware of the time requirements and started the dough at 9 am. This early start left me pulling the warm crostata out of the oven at 4pm, just in time for an afternoon snack (after a few photos, of course).

Apricot and Wild Blackberry Tarts

Recipe Slightly Adapted from Good to the Grain

Makes two 9-inch tarts

Rye Dough

  • 3/4 cup ice water
  • Dry Mix
    • 1 cup rye flour
    • 1 cup all purpose flour
    • 1 tablespoon sugar
    • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Wet Mix
    • 6 ounces cold, unsalted butter
    • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  1. Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl. Cut the butter into 1/2 inch pieces and add them to the dry mixture.
  2. Rub the butter between your fingers, breaking it into smaller bits. Continue rubbing until the butter is in sizes ranging from peas to hazelnuts. Try to do this as quickly as possible to ensure that the butter stays solid.
  3. Add the vinegar and 8 tablespoons of ice water to the flour mixture. Mix the ingredients with a spatula (or your hands, but I found it to be too sticky) just to moisten the flour. The dough will come together as a lump with a few stray pieces. Squeeze it together to form a ball. If it’s too dry, add another tablespoon of water.
  4. Pile the dough onto plastic wrap, sprinkle a few drops of water over the top, wrap tightly, and chill for 1 hour, or overnight.
  5. Unwrap the dough onto a floured surface. Pat the dough into a square and then roll it into an 8 1/2 by 11 inch rectangle. The dough will be crumbly and rough – this is okay!
  6. For the first turn, fold the dough into thirds like a letter. The seam should be on the left side. Turn the dough so that the seam is at the top and parallel to your body.
  7. For the second turn, roll the dough into an 8 1/2 by 11 inch rectangle and repeat the previous step.
  8. For the third turn, repeat the previous step, then wrap the dough in plastic (re-use the plastic you’d already used), and chill for 1 hour, or up to 3 days.

Apricot and Blackberry Crostata

  • 1 recipe Rye Dough
  • 1 1/4 cups Apricot Jam
  • 2 lbs apricots
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons of sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups blackberries
  • To finish: 1 egg, 1/4 cup sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  1. Cut the apricots in half and discard the pits. Put the apricots in a large bowl and add the sugar to cat. Pour 1/2 a cup of apricot jam on top and stir gently.
  2. In another bowl, gently stir 1/4 cup of the jam with the blackberries.
  3. Divide the dough in half. Keep one chilled in the fridge or freezer while you shape the first half. Flour the work surface and roll the dough into a rough circle about 15 inches in diameter. Transfer this dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  4. Spread 1/4 cup of jam at the bottom of the tart. Put half the apricots and half the blackberries into the center of the dough, tucking the blackberries into the nooks of the apricots. Fold an edge of the dough toward the center to cover the fruit. Continue folding dough toward the filling, creating folds.
  5. Using the same procedure, shape the second crostata on a second baking sheet. Then, freeze (or refrigerate) each tart for at least an hour.
  6. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Stir the cinnamon and sugar together. Whisk the egg into an egg wash. Remove the baking sheets from the freezer.
  7. Brush the edges of the dough with the egg wash and sprinkle the sugar over the tarts, spreading the sugar on both the tarts and fruit.
  8. Bake for 60-70 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through. Remove the crostatas when the crusts are golden brown and the jam is bubbling.
  9. Serve these warm and enjoy!