Blueberry (or any berry) Crostata: Imperfectly Delicious

For KSG and YKK – 

I miss many people these days. Of course I can text them, call them, videoconference with them, drive by their homes and say hi, but I miss my close, in-person interactions with my loved ones.  I realize how much I’ve taken for granted time in the presence of those whom I love. For example, my high school best friends and I usually spend our birthdays together – celebrating in my home while I cook them food that I want them to eat.  We live in the same area, but our meetings are sporadic at best.  However, we always manage to gather around our birthdays for a lengthy meal and catch-up session.  Both of them are great appreciators of my food regardless of any mistakes I make, verbally effusive when they taste things I’ve made with my hands, and always happy to take whatever leftovers home to their families.

Their birthdays come in the summer, and usually we alternate between eating out or eating in, but this year, should we get to meet in person, I will insist upon a meal in my home, cooked by me. I want to sit across from these beloved faces, laugh, and do the crazy things we do when we gather in the comfort of my home. The meal will be casual, imperfect, but made more delicious simply because of the present company.  Included in that meal will be birthday crostata with a candle for each of them.
If you’re not familiar with a crostata, think of it as pie’s hipper and more casual cousin.  If pie shows up to the wedding properly attired in a dress, crostata shows up with that slightly edgy outfit that borders on almost inappropriate, but the one everyone wishes they had the guts to wear. The shape of crostata doesn’t have to be perfect, and you can make a couple easily by simply doubling the dough. The dough is also forgiving – if it breaks, just smoosh it back together with no issues.  If the juices from the berries ooze out, that just means that it’s even more delicious and imperfect.  I love it because the flavors are buttery pastry and zingy berries, barely sweetened.  It is fruit forward and crust forward and ease forward. 
Blueberry (raspberry or blackberries also work) Crostata
Makes 1 crostata, which can be cut into 8 smaller portions
1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon of salt
4 oz (1 stick) of cold butter (stick it in the freezer for 20 minutes if you can)
1/4 cup ice water
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
12 oz of blueberries (a little over 2 cups) rinsed and picked over 
3 tablespoons of sugar
1 teaspoon of lemon zest (or lime zest or even orange zest if you like – just zest)
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1 egg, beaten (for brushing all over the crust)
1-2 tablespoons turbinado (raw) sugar
In the bowl of an electric mixer, add flour, sugar, and salt.  Run mixer until all dry mixture is mixed together.  
Take butter and cut into smallish chunks, and then add to mixer.  
Turn mixer on lowest speed so the cold butter and the flour mixture begins to look like chunky sand. 
Mix apple cider vinegar and ice water together and with the mixer on low, pour over the mixture. Allow mixture to clump together, but it should NOT look like cohesive dough.  Once it has clumped together (less than a minute of mixing time), turn off.
Cut a piece of parchment large enough to fit a large cookie rimmed sheet. (Half sheet size 13X18).  Pour dough crumbles into the middle of parchment and using your fingertips (the cooler part of your hand) as much as possible,  begin working the dough into a cohesive single mass.  Pat it gently, forming a round disk. You’ll notice smears of butter on the surface and this is a good thing, because it means you’ll have a nice flaky pastry.  Once the dough looks like a solid round disk, take the parchment and fold it around the dough and refrigerate for 1.5 hours or overnight.
When you’re ready to bake your crostata, preheat the oven to 375.  Prepare filling. In a medium bowl, take sugar and citrus zest and rub it between your fingertips or with a fork.  You will smell the essence of the fruit when you have released the oils.  
Add flour and then toss berries into the mixture. Remove dough from refrigerator. Flour the top surface of the dough and flip it over and lightly flour the other side.  Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough to rough 14″ diameter.  Pile berry mixture in center of dough. Using the parchment as your helper, fold the parchment over so that it pushes the dough to cover part of the berry mixture.  Repeat all the way around so that the berries are framed by the dough.
Brush crust with beaten egg.  Generously sprinkle turbinado sugar all over crust and on top of fruit.  
Bake for 35-40 minutes, until crust is golden and the fruit is bubbly.
Remove from oven and cool and the juices settle.  Serve warm or room temperature.  A scoop of ice cream or whipped cream can bring this dish to new levels.
Printable recipe
A little bit of something perfect.

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