When I saw the mixed berry crostata on LAtimes.com the other day, I started getting ideas. I had just bought some blackberries and peaches at the farmers’ market, and those two things are in season at the same time for good reason. I couldn’t wait to put them together in a simple, rustic kind of tart. The crostata dough from the LA Times is adapted from one by Nancy Silverton of Mozza. It’s a fairly straightforward pastry, but it includes a tablespoon of vanilla extract. I was sold. I’ve added nuts or lemon zest to dough before, but I had never thought of adding vanilla to pastry. With fresh, ripe, juicy peaches and just picked blackberries, a nice crust to contain them is all you really need.
I did go to the trouble of peeling the peaches this time although I often leave skins intact. It’s a simple procedure of bringing a pot of water to a boil, placing the peaches in the boiling water for about 45 seconds, and then transferring the peaches to ice water. Then, the skins slip right off when pulled with a paring knife. The peeled and sliced peaches and washed and dried blackberries were mixed with a little sugar and some cornstarch, and the filling was ready. The crostata dough was made in a food processor with all-purpose flour, cake flour, sugar, and salt, and chopped, cold butter was pulsed into that mixture. It was actually pulsed to a finer state than I usually mix a pastry dough. It was suggested to process until it resembled moist cornmeal. Ice water and vanilla extract were added, and then the dough was wrapped in plastic and chilled for a bit. For rolling out the dough, it was recommended that it be left kind of thick which is a good idea when juicy, fresh fruit is involved. The edges were rolled in over the fruit, and I brushed on an egg wash and sprinkled coarse sugar on the dough. The crostata baked for about 40 to 45 minutes until the fruit juices were bubbly and the crust was golden.
Sure, some ice cream or whipped cream wouldn’t be out of place here at all, but I was so excited about my first use of blackberries and peaches this season that I enjoyed the crostata with no added embellishment. This wasn’t a flaky, layered kind of pastry crust, but it was golden and crisp on top and tender in the center. With the flavor of vanilla throughout, it was a fine vehicle for the mixed fruit and thickened juices. If you have some ripe berries or other seasonal fruit on hand, consider using it in a crostata with this pastry dough, or try adding vanilla to your usual dough recipe for lovely added flavor.