Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Ina Garten's Summer Fruit Crostata

Tonight, all of a sudden and without warning, I had the irresistible urge to bake. I'm not one of those people who loves to bake all kinds of adventurous treats in my spare time. I can bake certain things, but if I'm putzing around in the kitchen, I usually prefer to be cooking.

We had a huge platter of quickly-ripening peaches in the dining room (I read that you're supposed to ripen them stem-side-down in a cool room, and our kitchen isn't air conditioned), and I really wanted to bake something I'd never made before. In a flash of inspiration, I remembered seeing a crostata recipe in Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa at Home cookbook. Crostatas sound so tempting in a romantic, rustic sort of way (just what the cookbook editors want, I am sure), so I decided to give the recipe a try.

So, now I have a confession to make. I have an irrational fear of dough, crusts, and anything else that requires that sort of baking precision. I've had tart shells turn out beautifully (by accident), and I've had them fail miserably (more often than not). I haven't yet got a technique down, nor do I have a favourite, perfect, never-fails recipe. My mother has both, and she sets a high standard- I grew up eating her beautiful, flaky, tender tart shells. I would love to be able to make them, too.

It's now 8 pm, I've made the dough, and it's been resting in the fridge for exactly an hour. I'm an impatient baker, so I'm off to roll it out, fill it, and pop it in the oven.

The good news is that L is napping, so if the crostata dough comes out truly awful, I can rescue the fruit, share it with the dog, and L will never know. Bonus: after that, the dog will definitely love me more than he loves L.

Wish me luck!

Oh, frabjous day! The crostata is beautiful! Beautifully messy, that is, and very tasty.

The filling was piled dangerously high, but it cooked down to a manageable amount. The crust is wonderfully flaky, though I'm afraid I was overzealous and I rolled it out a bit more than I meant to. It doesn't seem to have suffered much, so hopefully this really is one of those perfect, consistently-good dough recipes that I keep hearing about.

I'm not going to reproduce the recipe here, because I think that counts as copyright infringement or something equally bad. I can, however, tell you that it's very similar to Ina Garten's apple crostata recipe. Instead of the apple and spice filling, I used 1 1/2 pounds of unpeeled, sliced peaches and 1/2 pint blueberries. As directed in the cookbook (summer fruit) version, I tossed the sliced fruit in 1 tablespoon sugar, 2 tablespoons orange juice, and the orange zest also called for in the apple crostata recipe. I then used the fruit mixture as you would the spiced apple filling.

It was a hard sacrifice as far as blueberries are concerned, since I have an awful tendency to hoard them all for myself, but it was definitely worth it! We have some strawberries in the fridge, and the dough recipe makes enough for two crostatas; I suspect I'll get the itch to make another fruit crostata before the week is out! All in the name of valuable and important baking practise, of course...

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