SOUR CHERRY CROSTATA
This beautiful tart features a pastry the Italians call pasta frolla — the texture of the dough is more like cookie dough than traditional French-style pastry. The lattice crust is surprisingly easy to make because it doesn’t require weaving the strips.
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons finely grated fresh lemon zest
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
5 1/4 cups fresh or frozen (not thawed) sour cherries (13/4 lb), pitted
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons cold water
3 tablespoons cornstarch
Special equipment: a 9- by 1-inch fluted round tart pan with removable rim
Make pastry dough:
Beat together butter and 1/3 cup sugar with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reserve 1 tablespoon beaten egg, chilled, for egg wash and beat remaining egg into butter mixture, then add vanilla, beating well. Reduce speed to low and mix in flour, salt, and zest until mixture just forms a dough.
Halve dough and form each half into a 5- to 6-inch disk. Wrap disks in plastic wrap and chill until firm, at least 30 minutes.
Heat butter in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over moderate heat until foam subsides, then add fresh or frozen cherries with any juices and sugar and simmer, stirring, until sugar is dissolved. (Cherries will exude juices.) Continue to simmer until cherries are tender but not falling apart, about 8 minutes. Stir together water and cornstarch to form a thick paste, then stir into simmering filling and boil, stirring frequently, 2 minutes. Cool filling quickly by spreading it in a shallow baking pan and chilling until lukewarm, about 15 minutes.
Assemble and bake crostata:
Roll out 1 piece of dough (keep remaining piece chilled) between 2 sheets of wax paper into a 12-inch round. Remove top sheet of paper and invert dough into tart pan. Trim overhang to 1/2 inch and fold inward, then press against side of pan to reinforce edge. Chill tart shell. Roll out remaining dough in same manner and remove top sheet of paper, then cut dough into 10 (1-inch-wide) strips and slide dough, still on wax paper, onto a baking sheet. Chill strips until firm, about 5 minutes.
Put a foil-lined large baking sheet in middle of oven and preheat oven to 375°F.
Spread filling in chilled tart shell and arrange 5 strips 1 inch apart across filling, pressing ends onto edge of tart shell. Arrange remaining 5 strips 1 inch apart diagonally across first strips to form a lattice with diamond-shaped spaces. Trim edges of all strips flush with edge of pan. Brush lattice top with reserved beaten egg and sprinkle crostata with remaining tablespoon sugar.
Bake crostata in pan on baking sheet in oven until pastry is golden and filling is bubbling, about 1 hour. (If lattice and edges look too brown after 30 minutes, loosely cover with foil.) Cool crostata completely in pan on a rack, 1 1/2 to 2 hours, to allow juices to thicken.
I make this once a year when my Sour Cherry tree is ready for picking, I get all of Jeff’s friends over to pick. I make them a BBQ while they Pick Cherries. Fair don’t you think?