bring on the blackberries

So I had this idea . . .

It involved summer, and blackberries, and butter.  And therefore: pie. 

Now before you go ahead and tell me that this doesn’t look like a pie, let me go right ahead and agree with you.  Indeed, this is not exactly what I picture when I hear the word “pie”. But then again, it does meet all of the qualifications:

1.) Buttery crust

2.) Bold, and in this case fruity, filling

3.) Did I mention that the filling is nice and oozey when warm?  No?  Well, count that as numero tres.

And finally,

4.) The mind-blowing effect of faintly sweet crust and berry-goodness in just a few, compact bites.

So there you have pie . . . well, crostata to be more technical.   At that, I suppose it would be appropriate to give you a brief explanation of what a crostata is. 

A crostata is basically a rustic “pie” of sorts – it does not have a top crust, other than the edges which are upturned in order to contain the filling of choice.  In my case, however, crostata is an excuse to be a little lazy because you don’t have to worry quite so much about appearance.  It’s a way more freeform kinda dessert, which enables “creative license” and the ability to hide any impending mistakes.

Now that you are well-educated on the topic of crostatas (a.k.a. a lazy person’s excuse for pie), let’s get started. 

Crust is a must:

Cube up some butter and make sure that it’s very cold. 

Throw it in a food processor with some flour and sugar.  Be sure that you’re using the pastry attachment.  A real blade would just be overkill.  Pulse until you get these cool little crumbs.

Then add a tiny bit of buttermilk.  This will bring the mixture together, just enough to form a ball.  Refrigerate the dough for AT LEAST two hours, please!

Right before you’re ready to roll out the dough, prepare the blackberry filling.

Blackberries: check! (That could be problematic otherwise.)

Blackberries + Sugar + Lemon Zest (and Juice): Check!

And, we’re back to the crust.  Now, let me take a moment to caution you that this dough is somewhat . . . fussy.  Even after refrigeration it will be very tender and pliable, making it tricky to roll, transfer, and fold.  But it’s totally worth it, I promise.  Where there’s a will, there’s a way. 

Here are a few tips that might be of use:

1.) Make sure your oven is heated and ready to go prior to crostata assembly.  Likewise, have your baking sheets ready.

2.) Use LOTS of flour when rolling out the dough.  On the counter, on the rolling pin, and on the dough itself.  You can also knead the dough a bit to incorporate some of said flour.  I know it sounds weird, but it does help.

3.) Don’t panic!  Even if you do get tears, the dough is pliable enough such that you can fix it with a few nips here and tucks there.

Note the two sheets of dough (to make two crostata) per baking sheet.  The recipe will make four total.

Put a quarter of the berry filling in the center of each dough round.

And roll up the edges – try and pinch them together a bit too.  This will help prevent the juices from leaking too, too much.

Oh, and don’t forget to wash!  Egg wash, that is!

Now put those babies in the oven!

Again, I should caution you that at this stage in the process, your crostata might look . . . a bit “un-crostata” – like.  As mine where baking, it looked like the dough was melting, and the juices were flowing all over the place.  But after a quick 22 minutes, crisis averted!  The juices do thicken, the crust holds its own, and the berries cook just enough.  But PLEASE make sure that you do me one favor – pretty please? 

Just be sure that you use a baking sheet with edges all around.  Also, it must be lined very well.  Otherwise, berry-filling-drippage (that’s a word, no? ) could be rather dangerous . . . and smokey.

In the unlikely event that you have any leftovers, I suggest that you give them a nice cozy spot somewhere in your refrigerator.  Towards the front is probably best, for midnight snacking purposes, of course.

Blackberry Crostata

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Yields 4 Generously-Sized Crostata, 8 Servings

For the CRUST:

-1 1/4 C. All-Purpose Flour

-1/2 C. Granulated Sugar

-1/2 tsp. Kosher Salt

-1 Stick of Butter, Cubed and Chilled

-2 Tbs. Buttermilk

In a food processor (with pastry attachment), put the flour, sugar, salt, and cubed butter.  Pulse until the mixture becomes barely moistened and forms small crumbs (should be about the size of peas).  Then add the buttermilk and pulse a few times more until the dough forms a ball.  It will be sticky, and that’s okay.

Put the dough in saran wrap (try and flatten it out a bit) and refrigerate for AT LEAST 2 hours, though several hours more is even better. 

For the FILLING:

-12 Oz. Fresh Blackberries

-1/2 C. Granulated Sugar

-1 tsp. Lemon Zest

-1 Tbs. Fresh Lemon Juice

-2 Tbs. Corn Starch

Prepare the filling just before you’re ready to roll out the dough.  In a medium-sized bowl, toss the berries with the sugar, lemon zest,  juice, and cornstarch.  Once the berries are well-coated, set aside.  The mixture will start to become thick and syrupy. 


-1 Egg, beaten with just a splash of water

-Granulated Sugar, for sprinking the crusts (2 Tbs. is more than plenty)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F, making sure that 2 of the oven racks are in the upper half of the oven (very important!).  Do not roll out the dough until the oven has reached this temperature.  Meanwhile, prepare the rimmed baking sheets by lining them with parchment paper.  There is no need to grease the baking sheets as there is enough butter in the dough. 

To roll out the dough, cut the refrigerated dough into 4 sections.  On a really well floured surface, roll out the first piece until it is about 9 inches in diameter and 1/8-1/4 of an inch thick.  If the dough begins to stick at all, add more flour to the work surface.  You can also knead a bit of the flour into the dough itself.  Transfer the sheet of dough to the baking sheet, being sure to patch any holes that may have formed (simply do this by pinching the dough together). 

Proceed to roll out the remaining 3 portions of dough.  And remember, only 2 rounds of dough per baking sheet!

Spoon 1/4 of the berry filling onto the center of each dough round.  Make sure you leave a good 2 to 3 inches of crust surrounding the filling.  This way, you can fold over the edges, pinching them together just a bit, to contain the filling. Again, repair any tears that may form.

Gently brush the crostatas with the egg wash.  There is no need to douse them in egg wash, just a light brushing is all you need for a golden shine.  Then sprinkle with some granulated sugar. 

Now you’re ready to introduce the crostata to the oven.

Bake for 20-25 minutes (mine took 22 minutes, to be exact).  And whatever you do, do not open the oven door! (yea  . . . I broke that rule, oops!)

Once the crust is golden brown and firm, and the filling is thick and bubbling, remove from the oven.  There will be juices that have spilled and caramelized on the baking sheets – this is okay.  Place the baking sheets on cooling racks and allow to sit for 10 or so mintues. 

When cool enough, remove crostatas from the baking sheets – you may have to trim some of the juices which may (or may not) begin to harden.  Transfer to serving plate or platter.

You might want to finish these with some vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, or confectioners sugar.  Or, you might not.  However you will enjoy them most, that is what I recommend. :]


3 Responses to “bring on the blackberries”

  1. These look like just the thing for my next dinner party!


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