In one of my “past lives,” I was a manager of culinary education at Sur La Table. Basically, I taught people how to cook and taught others to teach every day. You can be jealous; it was an awesome job. In one of the first classes I ever taught, we made a blackberry balsamic crostata. It was beautiful, simple, and delicious.
This beauty may be inspired by my teaching days, but it really reminds me of one of the most incredible breakfast experiences Diana and I had with our favorite people in Sitka, Alaska. I made a crostata (it even included salmon berries – yes, those are a thing) for dessert at one of our casually elegant dinner parties. Never wanting the party to end, we turned the leftovers into part of our breakfast feast the next morning. You can eat it as-is at room temperature or crumble and layer into beautiful yogurt parfaits if you’re opposed to dessert for breakfast. We are, obviously, not in that boat.
This sounds so fancy, right? It looks amazing, but is incredibly easy to prepare. A crostata — or galette if we’re pretending to be French — is meant to be rustic, which allows for a great margin of “error” in handling the dough. No matter what you do, it can’t be a mistake. This dough is incredibly forgiving and pretty much perfect in every single way. Personally, I find it therapeutic to work with dough, but there is zero judgment whatsoever if you use store bought pie dough. Just make sure you get the kind that is rolled up and not already pressed in a pan. Splurge on a brand name and let it come to room temperature, so it doesn’t crack and leak delicious berry juices all over you oven. More on that issue later…
So here’s the deal – you take whatever ripe, gorgeous berries you have on hand, toss them with sugar, a bit of flour, and something acidic – we are using balsamic vinegar, but you can substitute some lemon juice if vinegar is not your thing. Once you get the hang of it, you will be making fancy breakfasts or desserts all the time. Trust me.
- 1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting your work area
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into ½ - 1 inch cubes
- ¼ cup sour cream
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- ice water, as needed
- 12 ounces raspberries
- 12 ounces blackberries pounds
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup high quality balsamic vinegar, divided
- 1 tablespoon melted unsalted butter, milk, cream or scrambled egg, for brushing
- 1 tablespoon demerera or coarse sugar
- Preheat oven to 400°F. If you have a pizza stone, this is a great time to use it. You’ll get better color on your crust and your fruit will bubble faster.
- In a large bowl, combine the flour and salt. Make a well in the center of the flour, then add the butter to the well and use a pastry blender or fork to work the butter into the flour until the mixture becomes crumbly. Visible bits of butter are ok as long as they’re no bigger than a pea. Make another well and begin to blend in the sour cream and lemon juice. Add ice water 1 tablespoon at a time until mixture holds together when you squeeze it, typically, this does not take more than ¼ cup of water but very often requires less. Shape the dough in a disk about 1-inch thick and wrap with plastic wrap. Refrigerate and rest for at least 30 minutes. Remove dough from refrigerator about 15 minutes prior to using.
- Dust a clean work surface with a thin layer of flour. Place the dough in the center and roll dough into a circle with a rolling pin using short but firm strokes. Roll from the middle of the dough out, turning the dough as you go to ensure that it isn’t sticking to your work surface and so the circle can remain fairly even. Roll until it is about 1/8 inch thick, and somewhere around 14 inches in diameter. Don’t fret if it isn’t perfectly shaped, this is when we start saying rustic affirmatively. Set dough round on a sheet of parchment paper. Seriously, you do not want to put this directly on a pan. As the fruit cooks, it will get syrupy and you don’t want caramelized fruit juice anywhere inside your oven, only in the crostata.
- In a mixing bowl, toss berries with flour, sugar and balsamic vinegar. Place berries in a pile in the center of the crostada and spread in an even layer, leaving a 2-inch border. Gently fold the border up in 2-3-inch sections, pleating and pinching as you go, leaving the center open. If the dough is too cold, it will crack and leak out some berry juices. You will inevitably loose a little bit, but let’s try to keep most of it in the crostada. When the crust is rustically pleated, brush with butter, cream, whatever and sprinkle with sugar. This will look really pretty once it’s baked and also give a little crunch.
- If you have a pizza stone, awesome. Put the parchment paper directly on the stone and bake. If you do not, put the parchment paper on a sheet tray. Bake the crostada until the fruit is bubbly and the crust has browned and looks incredibly delicious. This should take around 40 minutes. Pizza stone baking will shave a few minutes off.
- All this to cook for about 20 minutes, or as long as you can wait, really, because I’m usually willing to burn myself to eat something that just came out of the oven. Drizzle with remaining balsamic vinegar. Top with whipped cream or a scoop of perfect vanilla ice cream. Yum.