A few weeks ago I was having some girl friends over for dinner. Old friends from grad school that I was more interested in catching up with than necessarily impressing. But of course there had to be dessert. I wanted something kinda rustic and summery. Like something you'd find at a farmer's market. Something without pressure. A great time to try my first galette. Which, I have learned after further research, is something else! This kind of pastry is called a crostada.
I had peaches and raspberries on hand, and I literally wanted to put them in a crust and bake it. Unfortunately I got a little concerned when I checked some recipes - mostly about overly juiciness of fruit making crust soggy - so I decided to go with this one from Dorie Greenspan who takes several precautions to avoid the problem. First, she brushes the dough with jam to make a bit of a seal between the fruit and the crust. Next, she sprinkles on some graham crumbs to absorb some juice if necessary. And finally, she pours in a little simple custard to hold the fruit together and keep it from all getting too messy. Plus it adds a little creaminess that goes delectably with the fresh fruit and perfectly crispy crust.
In the end, it actually was impressive. For a minute I felt like one of those model hostesses in Martha Stewart throwing together that perfect "effortless" summer dinner party. In reality it was a much more regular gathering, but dessert was great. Really great.
Peach and Raspberry Crostada (print recipe)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 T sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 sticks (10 T) very cold unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon size pieces
2 1/2 T very cold vegetable shortening, cut into 2 pieces
About 1/4 cup ice water
2 to 3 T jam or marmalade
2 T graham cracker crumbs
About 6 firm peaches*
About 1 pint raspberries*
3 T unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/3 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
Coarse sugar for dusting
1. Make the Dough: Put the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor fitted with the metal blade; pulse just to combine the ingredients. Drop in the butter and shortening and pulse only until the butter and shortening are cut into the flour. Don't overdo the mixing - what you're aiming for is to have some pieces the size of fat green peas and others the size of barley. Pulsing the machine on and off, gradually add about 3 T of the water. Then use a few long pulses to get the water into the flour. If, after a dozen or so pulses, the dough doesn't look evenly moistened or form soft curds, pulse in as much of the remaining water as necessary, or even a few drops more, to get a dough that will stick together when pinched. Big pieces of butter are fine. Scrape the dough out of the work bowl and onto a work surface. Shape into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
2. Roll the dough into a large 1/8-inch-thick circle. Using a pastry wheel or a paring knife, trim the dough to a 13-inch diameter. Using a cake pan as a template and the tip of a blunt kitchen knife as a marker, lightly trace a 9-inch circle in the center of the dough - this is the area for the filling.
3. With the back of a spoon or a small offset spatula, spread some of the jam over the circle - how much you use depends on how much jam flavor you want. At least cover the circle enough to get a "seal." Sprinkle over the crumbs, adding a little more than 2 T if you think you've got particularly juicy fruit. Put a piece of plastic wrap or wax paper over the dough and refrigerate it while you prepare the fruit.
4. Peel or blanch the peaches, then halve and pit them. Rinse the raspberries thoroughly and lay on dry paper towels. Gently pat/dab with more paper towels to dry them as much as possible. Arrange the peaches on the dough, cut side down. Sprinkle the raspberries all over, within the 9-inch circle. Gently lift the unfilled border of dough up and onto the fruit. As you lift the dough and place it on the filling, it will pleat. Freeze the crostada for 15 minutes to rest the crust. Heat the oven to 425F.
5. Brush the dough very lightly with a little water, then sprinkle it with coarse sugar. Bake the crostada for 25 minutes, or until the crust is brown and the fruit soft.
6. Meanwhile, make the custard. Whisk together the melted butter, sugar, egg and vanilla in a bowl. When the crostada has baked for 25 minutes, remove it from the oven (leave oven on!) and carefully pour the custard around the fruit. Depending on how much juice has accumulated and how much space you have between the fruit, you may not be able to pour all the custard into the crostada, but even 2 T can give the right effect. Pour in as much custard as you can, then carefully return the pan to the oven.
7. Bake for another 12 to 15 minutes, or until the custard is set - it shouldn't jiggle when you gently shake the pan. Cool the crostada on the baking sheet on a rack for 10 minutes. Carefully slide a small baking sheet or cake lifter under the crostada and slip it onto a wire rack to cool. Serve warm or room temperature.
*Other fruits you could use: 10 apricots, 8 to 10 nectarines, 8 to 10 firm plums or 2 stalks rhubarb.
Recipe adapted from Baking: From my home to yours by Dorie Greenspan