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Who knew that Cherries & Apricots are a match made in heaven? Crostatas are very easy to make. You can use a store bought pie crust, or make your own (which I prefer to do). This particular recipes has a creamy filling of ricotta cheese, eggs and a bit of sugar. I was inspired to add orange zest, rather than cinnamon (as the original recipe that I adapted from "Cowgirl Chef". I used Bing Cherries, since they are in season in my part of California. On my first attempt at making the crust recipe, the dough was a little too soft and so the crust kind of melted and lots that lovely free-form look of crostatas. All was not lost, as I've increased the amount of flour for next time-- and there will be a next time! I loved the flavor of this "free form" pie. I'm so glad I added the orange zest, as it complimented both fruits perfectly. This is delicious served warm, or even an room temperature.
|For the crust:|
|1||stick or ½ cup cold butter|
|1½||cups unbleached all-purpose flour (I use King Arthur Brand)|
|¼||teaspoon sea salt|
|3-4||tablespoons ice water|
|For the filling:|
|1||Tablespoon orange zest|
|For the fruit:|
|about 20 cherries, pitted|
|3-4||apricots, pitted and sliced|
|2||tsp cornstarch (or 1 teaspoon clear jel)|
|¼||tsp almond extract (optional, but my favorite)|
|1||Tbsp. fresh lemon juice|
|2||Tablespoons apricot or peach jam (optional)|
|coarse sugar (for a delicious crunch on the dough)|
|1||egg, beaten and mixed with water|
|powdered sugar, for dusting|
Cut one stick of butter into 1/4-inch cubes or shred with a grater into a bowl (my preferred method). Place butter in the freezer for at least an hour. (You may also do this a day or two in advance.) Make the dough: Put the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor, and pulse a few times to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the butter is the size of small peas or pebbles. Now, slowly add the ice water, and pulse just until the dough begins to come together. You don’t want to over-blend or over work the dough. NOTE: The dough should stick together, like pie dough. It should not be super soft. Simply gently pat the dough into a disc, and wrap it in a piece of plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least an hour (helps to relax any gluten, so the crust will be tender). To make the filling: Whisk together the ricotta, two egg yolks, vanilla, sugar and orange zest. Place back in the fridge until you’re ready to make the crostata. For the fruit: Add the sugar, lemon juice and almond extract. Stir gently to combine. NOTE: Clearjel can be purchased either through Amazon or on King Arthur Flour.com It's a pie filling thickener, and I love it because I don't get runny fruit. Taste a small bite of each fruit, and gauge how sweet you want it to be. Add more sugar, if you need to. Set aside. For the crostata: Remove the dough from the fridge. You might have to let it sit for 10-15 minutes, until it is pliable enough to roll out the dough to roughly 9" in diameter, on a lightly floured surface. Don’t worry about how it looks. The crust doesn't need to be too thin or perfectly shaped – in fact, part of the charm of the crostata is its odd and rustic shape. Once rolled out, place on a piece of parchment paper on a cookie sheet and pop back into the fridge until you’re ready to assemble. NOTE: I actually rolled out the dough on parchment paper, and simply lifted it onto the baking sheet. Preheat oven to 350F. Remove the chilled crust from the fridge. If using the jam, evenly spread a thin layer, leaving about a 3" border. Carefully pour the ricotta filling into the center of the crust. Using a spatula, spread it evenly, being careful to leave about a 3" border-- you'll be folding over the dough to create the "crust". Pile enough of the the fruit on top of the ricotta filling, that will fit in the center of the crust, making sure to leave about 3 inches around the edges to fold over. Brush the egg wash over the crust. Sprinkle coarse sugar on top, for a delightful crunch. Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until the edges start to brown. NOTE: My crostata took about 50 minutes to bake, as the dough need more flour, and it melted. Next time, I'll increase the flour (as corrected in this recipe). Allow to cool until slightly warm. Serve with a dusting of powdered sugar and a side of vanilla ice cream, or fresh whipped cream.
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