Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Cherry Raspberry Crostata

Andronico's had these wonderful bags of cherries for a very good price. Abbie loves cherries, and I thought that it would be nice to bake some in a something other than a pie. I'm not a huge fan of cherry filling, in fact I really don't like that overly red pie filling you can get in a can. I've been reading Alice Waters and Chez Panisse by Thomas McNamee. In it, Lindsey Shere, the original pastry chef, describes how she makes a stone fruit galette. I looked up some other ideas and came up with this crostata. It was delicious, although not as pretty as I would have liked. To make a crostata, you roll out a pate brisee, or other pie crust, then in a bowl mix the fruit together with sugar and maybe a little cinnamon, some lemon juice, then you dump the filling into the center of the crust, and fold the edges up around the filling. Lindsey Shere has you mix the flour and the sugar, then sprinkle it in the bottom of the crust, then put the fruit on top. I thought this was a strange idea, until I made mine the old way. I ended up with cherries covered in a flour-sugar mixture, with the top half of the cherries exposed. This means that the flour and sugar on top of them never got mixed with the juice. I hope this makes sense, but this is such a great discovery for me. So I ended up pulling the crostata out of the oven and trying to roll the cherries to cover them in juice. The other great idea I got from her recipe is to always use my pizza stone. The bottom of the crostata was not soggy at all. I also used it for the Tomato Tart, and I have never had a more crisp crust. I also want to mention that I added raspberries to my crostata, which tasted really good, but the raspberries just fell apart. Here is what I should have done to make my Cherry Crostata.

Pate Brisee
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/2 cups (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold!
1/4 cups ice water
Cut the butter into 1/2 inch pieces, place in a bowl, then in the freezer. Place the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor, and process for a few seconds. Put the bowl of the food preocessor with the flour mixture into the freezer. Fill a measuring cup with ice water. Take the butter and flour out of the freezer, and add the butter pieces to the flour mixture. Process for no longer than 10 seconds- pulsing 1 second at a time. The butter should be big pea size. Dump the mixture into a bowl, drizzle 1/4 cup ice water over the mixture and using a spatula, press the dough together with the water. (This feels like it takes forever, and it does, but you will be rewarded with big chunks of butter in your crust. Remember- big chunks butter=flaky crust.) Turn out dough onto a lightly floured board, and form into a disk. Wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate atleast 1 hour. You can make this ahead and refrigerate 1 day, or freeze up to 1 month.

4 cups pitted fresh cherries
2-4 tbs. each granulated sugar and unbleached all-purpose flour (depending on sweetness and ripeness of fruit)
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon heavy cream for egg wash
2 teaspoons coarse sugar

Put a pizza stone in the oven and preheat the oven to 425ºF for 45 minutes. Remove the dough from the refrigerator about a few minutes before rolling to soften it slightly.

Place the dough round between 2 sheets of parchment paper and roll into a 13-inch round, flouring the round lightly as needed to keep the dough from sticking. Remove the top sheet of parchment. Slide a pizza peel or rimless baking sheet under the bottom sheet of parchment.
In a small bowl, mix the flour, sugar and cinnamon. Spread the sugar and flour mixture over the bottom of the crostata, leaving a border of about 2 inches. Place the fruit in the crostata next. Fold the border up and over the cherries to make a rim. Brush the rim with egg wash, then sprinkle with coarse sugar.

Use the pizza peel or baking sheet to transfer the crostata, still with parchment underneath, to the oven, sliding it, with the paper, directly onto the pizza stone. Bake until the crust is nicely browned and the cherries are bubbling, about 40-45 minutes. Remove from the oven with the peel or baking sheet and let cool on a rack for 15 minutes before serving.

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