A crostata, also called a galette, or even just a tart, is one of my favorite ways to use fresh summer fruit. With a crunchy, rustic crust, one could call it a lazy version of a pie. But that’s a perspective I’m fine with after picking and pitting more than a dozen pounds of cherries from a local orchard. I don’t need a perfect pie. I just want to enjoy the fruit, and the sooner, the better.
In fact, it’s difficult not to eat such fresh and ripe fruit as soon as you bring it home. Or even as you pick it. If you don’t have the patience to bake something, you can’t go wrong with a bowl of summer fruit, especially berries, topped with homemade whipped cream. Yes, it is worth making your own whipped cream for such excellent fruit. It’s always worth whipping cream at home, flavored with vanilla and sweetened with maple syrup.
Yet, the crostata is worth it too. It’s not just the simplicity of the imperfect dough that makes a crostata appealing, you can use just about any fruit to make one. Cherries, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, peaches, plums, pears and apples would all do fine. Which is why you might as well make a couple of batches of the dough and freeze one for your next fruit-picking venture. That way you can just defrost and roll out the dough in a few short minutes.
The only thing I’ve had to watch out for when making a crostata is the amount of juice that the fruit releases. If there’s too much juice, you’ll have a soggy crust. Perhaps one of life’s greatest disappointments is biting into crust and finding it soggy rather than crunchy. There are a few ways to combat this. You can mix in some corn starch, as I include in the recipe below. Or you can use flour, though I think cornstarch does a better job of absorbing liquid. You can also use the same amount of quick-cooking tapioca. See how much liquid is released when you mix the fruit with the sugar. You may need to do some adjusting depending on the fruit you use.
I love the combination of sour cherries and sweet plums I put in this crostata. Between the plums and the not-unreasonable amount of sugar in the recipe — less than half a cup, in fact — there’s a nice balance of tart and sweet. If using sweet cherries or another sweeter fruit, you could cut the sugar back some more.
Sour cherry & plum crostata
For the dough:
2 cups flour, plus more for rolling out the dough
½ teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons sugar
zest of 1 lemon
1 ½ sticks butter
1 egg yolk
3 tablespoons cold water
For the filling:
4 ripe plums
2 cups fresh sour cherries
¼ cup sugar, plus more for finishing
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 egg white, beaten with a tablespoon of water
In a large bowl, whisk the flour, salt, sugar and zest to combine. Chop the butter into small pieces and use your hands to work it into the flour mixture until you have roughly shaped crumbs. Stir in the egg yolk and water until a dough begins to form. Shape the dough into a small, flat disc and cover with plastic wrap. Place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to chill.
Meanwhile, prepare the filling. Slice the plums and place them in a bowl with the cherries, sugar, cinnamon and cornstarch. Toss to coat.
When ready to assemble, preheat the oven to 450 degrees and place a pizza stone or baking sheet on a rack in the middle of the oven to heat. If using a pizza stone, place a second pan on a rack below this one to catch any juice that may run off while baking.
Take out and unwrap the dough. Place the round on a large piece of parchment paper. Use a rolling pin sprinkled with flour to roll out the disc into a round about 14 inches wide. But don’t try and make it perfect. Spread the fruit mixture into the center of the dough, leaving about two inches around the edges. Brush the edges with the egg white then fold them over onto the filling. The center of the crostata will remain exposed.
Brush the crust with the remaining egg white and sprinkle with sugar. Transfer the crostata to the pan in the oven. You can leave it on the parchment to make it easy to remove. Bake for 20 – 30 minutes until the crust is golden. Serve warm with freshly whipped cream.