Crostata is an open-faced fruit tart, typically filled with sweet fruits of some sort. The crust is tender, flaky, and buttery, as any good pastry should be. Apricots are in this crostata, but swapping them out for a different fruit is as simple as choosing your favorite.
This was a multi-generational weekend. My Mother-in-law celebrated her 80th birthday in her own, quiet way in Palm Desert.
And yet still, her 3 nieces and former sister-in-law came from Vermont, North Carolina and Arizona to celebrate. Along with my two sisters-in-law, (Napa and Paso Robles) and one nephew, (Portland) and his family, that made a family reunion. To round the weekend out, we stayed with my mom just 15 minutes away.
Every time we visit my mom, 77, who still works 40 hours a week as a psychologist, she always has some kind of baking project planned for the kids. This is good, because I am not a baker. So I watch, chat, and enjoy the interplay between the generations. My mom has given my daughter, Sophie, the love of baking.
Watching my mom with Sophie and hearing stories of how her grandmother taught her to cook and seeing her use her grandmother’s rolling pin, which still works beautifully, 120 years later, reminded me that what we eat, and whether or not we become “cooks” is inherited. If you did not have parents who loved to cook or eat, chances are you won’t either.
It wasn’t until Friday, that I realized that it was Father’s Day weekend, and that my nephew, Greg, his wife Lynne, and their two children, Ethan, 2 1/2 and Madeleine, 8 months would be staying with us on Sunday as they made their way back north.
So, as I prepared the Father’s Day Dinner, bacon wrapped filets, grilled veggies, sauteed mushrooms and baked potatoes, I also baked another Crostata.
This is an easy recipe for apricot crostata, with a free-form crust. Any stone fruit similar to apricots can be substituted, such as plums, peaches, or nectarines.
As Ethan ran around the house, fascinated by the “doggie”, Annabelle, Lynne fed and amused Madeleine in the kitchen. While I cooked, we talked and my head raced forward to what it would be like when I have grandchildren. What would I give them? What would they learn to love? Smoked oysters out of the tin, like my dad passed to me? And as I, did to my kids? Or will I become “Grandma Soup”, named by my yet unborn grandchildren, because I will teach him/her/them to make beautiful, and easy soups?
My mom loves to bake, and now, so does Sophie. She goes to “Baking School” every time she is with my mom. Whether they roll out dough together, or whether my mom shares her secrets and techniques about how to bake, Sophie is learning. Children learn by watching, by doing and by experiencing, whether we consciously know it or not. So I wonder, what have I taught, what have my children learned, and what have I yet to teach?
A Crostata is a far easier version of a pie. Roll a circle of dough, throw in some fruit and pop it in the oven. While my mom only makes homemade dough, you can certainly use a store-bought crust.
- 1 3/4 lbs apricots (or any other stone fruit) washed, and chopped coarsely.
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup of white sugar. Use your judgement. If the fruit is very ripe use less sugar.
- 1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger
- 1/4 cup cornstarch. Again use your judgement. If the fruit is very ripe, it will give off more juice during baking. If the fruit is less ripe, it will give off less juice and therefore require less thickener. See, this is where the "feel" part of baking comes into play!
- Mix fruit sugar and ginger.
- Crumble Topping
- 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour (I used almond flour)
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, chopped into small bits
- Pulse all ingredients for crumble topping in a food processor until it resembles fine meal.
- Assembling the Crostata
- Roll out dough.
- Pile fruit in the center. Fold edges in, pleating to make a "pie bowl".
- Top with crumble mixture.
- Bake at 450* F. for 20-25 minutes or until Crostata is golden brown. Serve with ice cream or whipped cream.
If you want to make homemade pastry dough for your Crostata, the recipe is shown below.
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 4 ounces cold butter cut into small pieces
- 1/4 cup ice water
- Mix flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of food processor. Pulse in butter just until flour resembles small peas. With motor running, add ice water, just until dough comes together. Turn out dough onto a floured cloth or board and flatten into a disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for a hour.