belinda jeffery's recipes
My recipes are easy. They’re for the food I like to eat. Simple, fresh, full of flavour and just a bit different. You certainly don't need any great cooking skills for them, you just need to like food and like eating – just like me. The rest is simple.
summer fruit crostata
I do love crostatas – the look of them, the taste of them and the ease with which they’re made. For apart from making and rolling the pastry, they actually come together with surprisingly little fuss, and, as they’re meant to look rustic, you don’t have to try and make everything neat - in fact the odd wonky edge and burnt bit adds character.
Although you could use other biscuits in the filling (I’ve used both almond macaroons and digestives if I’ve been stuck) I find that the slightly bitter almond flavour of amaretti biscuits is spot-on with stone fruits in particular. On that note, if you can, try to use fruit that is just ripe and sweet, but not too soft or it may collapse a bit as it cooks (it will still taste wonderful though). And by all means, use just one fruit if that’s all that is available.
1 1/2 cups (225g) plain flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon caster sugar
Finely grated zest of 1 small lemon
125g cold, unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
1/4 cup (60ml) iced water
6 amaretti biscuits, crushed
2 tablespoons plain flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
90g caster sugar
A mixture of stone fruits – you will need approx. 4 - 6 ripe apricots; 6 medium-sized ripe nectarines or small-ish peaches; and 4 - 5 small plums. Halve and stone all the fruit.
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
Rich thick cream, Greek-style yoghurt or vanilla ice cream, to serve
To make the pastry, put the flour, salt, sugar and lemon zest into a food processor fitted with a steel blade and whiz them together. Add the butter and whiz everything together until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. With the processor running, pour in the iced water and whiz the mixture again until the dough forms a ball around the blade.
Tip the dough out onto a board and form it into a ball, then flatten it into a disc and wrap it tightly in plastic film. Chill it for about 50 minutes, or until it’s firm but supple enough to roll out. (If you’ve made the pastry a day or two ahead of time and kept it in the fridge, just remember that you need to let it soften up a bit at room temperature first.)
Preheat your oven to 200C. Line a large (roughly 30cm round) pizza tin with a sheet of baking paper, (or you can use a baking tray). Set it aside.
For the filling, mix together the amaretti biscuits, flour, cinnamon and 2 tablespoons of the caster sugar in a bowl. Set this mixture aside.
After the pastry has chilled, roll it out thinly on a lightly floured board into a round that is a bit larger than the prepared pizza tin. (You need the pastry to be bigger than the tin as this excess pastry eventually forms a border for the crostata.) Drape it over the tin, leaving an overhang all around, then press it very gently into the sides. Spread the amaretti mixture evenly over the base.
Nestle the apricot and peach or nectarine halves, cut-side down, closely together all over the biscuit filling - wedge them in as tightly as you can as they shrink a little as they cook. Now tuck in the plum halves, cut-side up, here and there over the top. Sprinkle the remaining caster sugar evenly over the fruit (use an extra spoonful or two of sugar if the fruit seems a bit tart). Fold the pastry overhang in over the fruit, pleating and pressing it gently to seal it and form a border. Sprinkle the granulated sugar over this.
(If you’re making the crostata on a baking tray, once the pastry is rolled, centre it on the baking paper. Sprinkle the biscuit mixture evenly over the pastry leaving a 5-6cm border all around so you can flip this over to form the rim of the crostata, then just continue with the recipe.)
Bake the crostata for 35-40 minutes or until the pastry is crisp and deep golden brown. Remove it from the oven to a wire rack and leave it to cool in the tin for at least 40 minutes so the filling firms up. I can’t tell you just how wonderful the crostata smells at this stage, but it’s worth waiting for it to cool before you eat it - its flavour really is best at room temperature when the juices have had a chance to meld with the biscuits.
With the help of the baking paper underneath, gently slide the crostata out of the tin onto a large flat serving plate. Serve it with rich cream, thick yoghurt, or vanilla ice-cream.
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© Copyright Belinda Jeffery 2014. This recipe and photograph are protected by copyright laws and written permission from the author must be obtained to re-use them in any form of media.