This is, for me, the quintessential Italian breakfast pastry. Make this fresh peach crostata (with your hands) and serve up slices of it with hot espresso and you’ll immediately feel transported to Italy. During my study abroad year I spent a few weekends on a buffalo mozzarella farm in Tuscany, with family friends, and in the morning we woke up to freshly made raspberry crostata, with a crunchy crust and soft, jam-soaked center. After getting explicit instructions on how to make one, I recreated it in my dorm kitchen, in a toaster oven. You'd think that would be a disaster, but it became my specialty. I like to think that it's what scored me points with Manu. Now, every time I make one, I feel like I’m back on that farm, back in college, back to the origins of my wild passion for Italy.
Fresh Peach Crostata
(based on this recipe)
(based on this recipe)
for the dough
1 cups all-purpose flour, plus some for kneading
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
⅓ cup water, or as needed
Pile the flour on your work surface and make a well in the center. Add the olive oil, 1/3 cup water, and the salt to the well. Mix the dough and knead, adding flour if the dough begins to stick to your hands, until the dough is very smooth and no streaks of flour or oil remain, about 1 minute. Wrap the dough with plastic wrap and let it rest 30 minutes at room temperature or up to one day in the refrigerator. Allow refrigerated dough to stand at room temperature 30 minutes before continuing.
for the filling
3 very ripe peaches, peeled and sliced
2 tablespoons apricot (or peach) jam
1 tablespoon butter
the zest of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Preheat oven to 375. Place a piece of parchment paper to fit a pie dish. Flatten out the dough directly on top and start to push it out to fit the dish with your fingers, flattening from the center outwards all the way. Sprinkle 1/3 of the bread crumb mixture on the dough. In a bowl, toss the sliced peaches with the lemon zest and the jam. Arrange the peaches on top of the crumbs in concentric rings, starting from the outside, leaving about a 1/2 space around the border. Don’t overlap them too much. Sprinkle the cubed butter on top. Next, fold the uncovered band of pastry over the fruit and pleat to form a top crust. Finally, sprinkle 1 or 2 more tablespoons of the bread crumbs over the top of the entire crostata. Check the browning of the crust after 40 minutes: it should be light gold. If it is getting quite dark, you may need to lay a piece of foil on top. Bake for another 15 minutes or more until the fruit is bubbling and has caramelized on the edges.
Something to note: This is tiny. About four good slices. I did that so that I don't eat exorbitant amounts of crostata. If you'd like to make a larger one, just double the ingredients in the dough, and use 4-6 peaches for the filling. Buon appetito!
P.S. For a classic jam-filled crostata with a sweet dough, try this peach crostata I made two summers ago.