Fresh juicy peaches in a tender pastry shell are a classic Italian summer dessert. Plums, apricots or cherries can be used in place of the peaches. Serve the crostata the same day that you make it, while the crust is crisp and warm.
For the pastry:
- 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- Grated zest of 1 lemon
- 12 Tbs. (1 1/2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 1 whole egg, plus 1 egg yolk
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
For the filling:
- 2 cups peeled, pitted and sliced peaches
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
For the topping:
- 1 egg
- 1 Tbs. water
- Demerara, turbinado or other coarse sugar for sprinkling
To make the pastry, in a large bowl, combine the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, salt and lemon zest and stir to mix. Scatter the butter pieces over the flour mixture. Using a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut in the butter until the mixture forms large coarse crumbs the size of peas.
In a small bowl, whisk together the whole egg, egg yolk and vanilla until well blended. Pour the egg mixture over the flour mixture and stir until the dough is evenly moist and begins to come together. If the mixture seems dry, add 1 tsp. or so of cold water. Transfer the dough to a work surface and divide into 2 disks, one slightly larger than the other. Wrap separately in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to overnight.
Position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 375°F.
To make the filling, in a bowl, toss together the peach slices, granulated sugar and flour. Set aside.
On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the larger dough disk into a 12-inch round. Carefully roll the dough around the rolling pin, position over a 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom and unroll the dough, pressing it gently but firmly against the bottom and sides of the pan. Trim the edges of the dough, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang. Fold the overhang over against the inside of the rim of the pan. Pour the peaches into the pastry-lined tart pan, spreading them into an even layer.
Roll out the second dough disk into a 10-inch round. Using a pastry wheel or a knife, cut the dough round into 10 strips, each 1/2 inch wide. Arrange half of the strips across the top of the tart, spacing them evenly. Give the pan a quarter turn and place the remaining dough strips across the top to form a lattice pattern. If the strips break, patch them together with a drop of water. Press the ends of the strips against the sides of the tart shell to seal.
To make the topping, in a bowl, whisk together the egg and water. Using a pastry brush, gently brush the dough strips with the egg mixture. Sprinkle the strips generously with coarse sugar.
Bake until the pastry is golden brown, about 45 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack, let cool for 10 minutes, then remove the outer ring of the tart pan and let the tart cool until warm or room temperature. Cut into wedges to serve. Makes one 9-inch tart.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Italian by Michele Scicolone (Oxmoor House, 2007).