On the Saturday before Father’s Day, my parents and I went for a 20-mile bike ride, and along the way picked up some fresh strawberries from a local strawberry patch. It’s always incredible to have the first local strawberries of the season — no matter how good the supermarket strawberries sometimes seem, they’ve got nothing on the real thing. They were sweet and juicy and tender, and they smelled like heaven. We threw 2 quarts into my mom’s bike-mounted bag, and brought them home.
Unfortunately, the plan was much better in theory. We also bought a ton of blueberries on that trip, and by the time we got home they were all hot and sticky, and totally squished! They still tasted pretty darn delicious, but they certainly weren’t going to win any awards for their beauty. This Strawberry Crostata recipe seemed the perfect cover-up for bruised berries.
I bought a rectangular tart pan a few months back, but had left it in my apartment so I used a regular tart pan and it worked out fine. I only had white whole wheat flour (what’s new there, right?) so the dough wasn’t exactly s it should have been, but it still worked well. The berry filling you get is similar to strawberry jam, but about 3,000 times better — it’s extremely rich in flavor, and pretty unique — I’ve never tasted anything like it. While I was assembling it, I temporarily forgot I needed to leave some extra dough for the lattice top, so as the pictures will reveal, I didn’t have quite enough to make it really pretty.
Overall, I was happy with the outcome. I had to get back home for work the next morning, so I left early on Sunday evening and just took a slice of the tart to go plain. I think it’d have been enhanced by a big scoop of vanilla bean ice cream or a generous dollop of whipped cream. The creaminess of those accouterments would have cut the intense strawberry flavor of the filling. But if you like your desserts rich, then go ahead and eat it straight-up.
2 1/2 cups strawberries, hulled and halved
1 ¼ cups sugar
1 3-inch piece of orange zest
juice of 1 orange
1 2-inch piece of lime zest
juice of ½ lime
2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger (I unfortunately didn’t have fresh ginger, so I added some jarred ginger at the end, but definitely try to find the fresh stuff!)
scraped seeds of 1 vanilla bean
1 egg beaten with ½ tablespoon water, for brushing (egg wash)
2 tablespoons demerara sugar, for dusting
Pasta frolla Ingredients
1 ½ cups + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour (I used white whole wheat, which was fine, but I think I’d use all-purpose the next time)
7 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, coarsely chopped
2/3 cup powdered sugar, sifted
scraped seeds of 1 vanilla bean
pinch of salt
1 egg plus 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
Pasta Frolla: Process the flour, butter, powdered sugar, vanilla seeds and salt in a food processor until fine crumbs form. Gradually add egg mixture, and process until mixture just comes together. Turn onto a lightly floured surface, knead lightly until smooth. Wrap in plastic wrap, refrigerate to rest (1-2 hours). **Be careful not to refrigerate the dough for too long, or it becomes too solid and doesn’t roll out nicely — I know from experience
Filling: Combine strawberries in a large saucepan with sugar, zests, juices, ginger, vanilla bean and vanilla seeds. Stir over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves, then bring to the boil and stir occasionally until thick and resembling jam (10-15 minutes) While cooking, squash the berries using a spoon or spatula to release all their juices. Remove the zest pieces and the vanilla bean, then set aside to cool completely.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Roll out two-thirds of the pasta frolla on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle (or circle) and line a buttered rectangular (or circular) tart pan, trim edges and spoon in cooled strawberry mixture. Roll out remaining pasta frolla on a lightly floured surface, and cut into 3/4-inch thick slices. Arrange strips in a lattice over jam, press pastry edges to seal and trim off the excess. Brush pastry with egg wash, dust with demerara sugar and bake until pastry is crisp and golden (40-45 minutes).
Cool completely in pan before serving. This crostata is best eaten on day you make it.
So there you have it! A wonderful way to use less-than-perfect berries. I think this would also be good with raspberries or rhubarb mixed in, but you can get creative. The strawberry mixture can also sit overnight, so that there’s less to do the day you want to serve it.
That’s all for now. Back soon!
With love, and sugar.