A Crostata is an open-face fruit tart, typically filled with sweet fruits of some sort, usually stone fruit such as apricots, peaches or plums.
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. Every time we visit my mom, 84, who, until a few years ago worked 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.
I watch my mom with my girls and listen to stories of how her grandmother taught her to cook, and see them use grandmother’s rolling pin, which still works beautifully, 120 years later. It reminds that what we eat, and whether or not we become “cooks” is inherited. If you do not have parents who love to cook or eat, chances are you won’t either.
A Crostata is not difficult. In fact, if you don’t feel comfortable with your pie making skills, a crostata is a good place to start. Roll the pie dough into a circle. Lightly scratch another, smaller circle in the center as a guide for where to place the fruit.
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. Gather the edges of the pie dough and wrap it around the fruit, folding and crimping. Add the crumble topping.
When we cook and bake, we talk, and sometimes my head races forward to what it would be like when I have grandchildren. What skills will 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?
- 1 3/4 lbs ripe apricots (or any other stone fruit) washed, and chopped coarsely.
- 1/4 cup sugar if the fruit is very ripe, a few tablespoons more if it is not as ripe.
- 1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger
- 1 pinch kosher salt
- 1/4 cup cornstarch If the fruit is very ripe, as it will give off more juice during baking. If the fruit is less ripe, it will give off less juice and therefore require a bit less cornstarch.
- Pulse all ingredients for crumble topping in a food processor until it resembles fine meal. Set aside.
- 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.
Assembling the Crostata
- Roll out dough.
- Place 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.