When something is so good, so wonderful, don’t you just want to stretch it out? Make it last forever? I feel that way sometimes about fruit, of all things. I mean, I know I sort of harp on this but there’s a reason these things taste really good only a few months out of the year and are overpriced and disappointing the rest. But let’s be honest … citrus gets a little tired in the middle of winter and we just want some hint, a little promise that something brighter is on it’s way.
This is when I pull out my secret ingredient … frozen fruit. Over the summer, I usually have more ripe fruit than I can handle and this summer has bordered on the absurd. When I tire making jam, or more likely am overwhelmed with jars on every available shelf, the freezer is my method of choice for preserving the season.
If I don’t have the time or inclination to deal with something, into the freezer it goes. Which is what happened to that bushel of white peaches I brought home last week. They’ll be great in a pie or crisp when it’s snowing outside. I slice the fruit – sometimes peeled, sometimes not – and freeze the slices on a sheet pan until solid, then into labeled Ziploc bags. Sort of my own version of IQF (individually quick frozen). One word of advice – it’s important to remember what you’ve socked away. The other day, I found a small bag of pitted sour cherries in the bottom of my chest freezer from 2007. Whoops.
I make crostadas a lot – probably more than anything else. They come together quickly, don’t require any special equipment, make good travelers and can be made with whatever I have on hand – fresh or frozen. Every single time I see my sister on the west coast, this is what she requests. It seems the second I get off the plane, talks of a tart start up. Speaking of which, this is exactly why I bust this recipe out while traveling – you don’t need a fancy pants tart pan to pull it off. Or a rolling pin, really. Oh sure, it helps but I’ve used an empty wine bottle to roll the dough out on a few occasions. Works great. The filling can be anything that looks good – figs from the tree in the yard or a bag of frozen blueberries from the corner store.
As for shaping, crostadas are the easiest of tarts to make. Even if you don’t do it right, it doesn’t matter because this is a rustic tart which gives you great leeway in the shaping department. The key is to use parchment paper to help– roll the dough out on the paper and use it to ease the dough up and over the filling. Then just slide the whole thing right onto a sheet pan and into the oven. Easy peasy.
For an extra crunch of tastiness, be sure to glaze the outside of the dough with an egg wash and sprinkle with a healthy Tablespoon or two of sugar. If you can find the large grain crystal sugar, that looks rather pretty and gives a nice crunch too.
STRESS BAKING THERAPY FACTOR: HIGH. There’s something about fruit tarts that sooth my soul. I can’t quite explain it but I adore making these and really enjoy bringing them to BBQs or just giving them away. People go NUTS. It’s a good satisfying feeling especially if I use great fruit I’ve frozen over the summer. It’s a little bite of unexpected sunshine, as goofy as that sounds.
Makes one 10” tart, serves 8
This works great with any combination of fruit – you can even mix and match whatever you have on hand. If using frozen fruit, don’t defrost and add about 5-10 minutes to the overall baking time.
1 batch single crust tart dough
5-6 ripe peaches, sliced thin
1 Tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
¼ cup sugar
½ teaspoon ground ginger
pinch of allspice
pinch of kosher salt
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1 egg white (or heavy cream)
1 Tablespoon milk or cream
1 ½ teaspoons sugar
- Preheat oven to 350°F and place rack in the lower third of the oven.
- Thinly slice the peaches; leave the peel on – adds a lovely color.
- In a large bowl, combine the peaches, flour, sugar, ginger, allspice and salt.
- On parchment sheet, roll the tart crust into a circle about 14”-16”.
- Mount the peaches in the center of the dough, leaving about 1 ½” border all around.
- Dot the peaches with the Tablespoon of butter.
- Using the parchment paper, fold the dough border up over the figs to over about and inch of the filling. Note: the dough will not completely cover the filling – see photo. Don’t worry about it being perfect – this is a rustic tart.
- Make the egg wash – combine the egg white and the milk (or cream.)
- With a pastry brush, glaze the outside crust.
- Sprinkle the egg washed crust with the 1 ½ teaspoons or sugar (this will look nice and give a pleasant crunch.)
- Carefully slide the parchment sheet onto a heavy duty sheet pan.
- Bake the crostada for 35-40 minutes until golden brown and bubbly, rotating halfway through baking.
- Cool completely before serving. Crostada is best on the day it’s made but will keep, tightly covered, at room temperature for a day or two.