The Italian crostata, called a galette in France, is a rustic freeform tart. It’s a great way to make use of the abundance of ripe fruit available in any season. Crostatas capture the essence of fresh fruit flavors mingled with a tender, crumbly crust. It’s just good luck that they are also quick and easy to prepare.
You only need two things for a delicious crostata – a tender sturdy dough, and ripe seasonal fruit.
Crostata dough is easy to make and very forgiving. You can prepare the dough in advance and refrigerate it for up to 3 days, or freeze it for up to a few months. It is good to have on hand in the freezer for last minute gatherings.
The filling can be adapted to the season and your taste. Most fruit tossed with some sugar makes a great tart. In the spring and summer, use peaches, blueberries, or raspberries. In the fall and winter, apples and pears make a tasty crostata.
In its most basic form, prepare crostata dough and fill it with the fruit of your choice that has been tossed with some sugar and grated lemon rind. Roll dough into a circle, and place on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Place fruit in the center, leaving a 2″ border all around the fruit. Gently fold the dough over the fruit, forming pleats. If you like, sprinkle with some sugar. Bake at 450 degrees for about 20 minutes, until the crust is golden.
There are a variety of recipes available, some more elaborate than a basic crostata, but worth the effort.
Joanne Chang’s pear cranberry crostata, from her new book Flour, Spectacular Recipes from Boston’s Flour Bakery and Cafe is delicious.
Ina Garten has a wonderful apple crostata recipe that incorporates the idea of adding a crisp topping, inspired by the well known crostatas at Alforno’s restaurant in Providence, RI.
More creative crostata recipes can be found in Cucina Simpatica, a cookbook by Alforno chef/owners George Germon and Johanne Killeen.
Finally, Jacques Pepin makes an apple tart with French flair.