Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Floral Rhubarb-Strawberry Crostata

Ah, the classic combination of strawberry and rhubarb. As you may know, I got a whole lot of rhubarb and 2 quarts of strawberries and I didn’t want them to sit around until the next week, when I would likely be getting more of them, so I had to use them up.

I wasn’t feeling too original nor was I in the mood to think, so I whipped up my standard galette/crostata dough and mixed up the rhubarb and strawberries with sugar and cornstarch. But, of course, not one to be content with simplicity, I added some floral notes, courtesy of dried lavender buds in the crust and rosewater in the filling. I’ve seen rhubarb-lavender desserts, and strawberries and rosewater is fairly common, so I figured I’d incorporate both flavors to play off the sweet-tart strawberry-rhubarb action. Nothing earth-shattering, but a little unexpected twist to the classic combination.

Crostatas and galettes are incredibly easy to make – they’re basically a single-crust pie. Sure, you still have to follow some basic pie crust rules – use super cold butter, don’t overwork the dough once you add the water, and don’t add too much water – but for some reason I feel like crostatas/galettes are more forgiving, as their final appearance is very rustic and homespun, so if your crust isn’t perfect, it’s ok.

As for the filling, start with less sugar than you think you’ll need. If you’re using in-season berries, you likely won’t need more than 1/3 cup for this amount of rhubarb. Taste your strawberries and go from there – if they’re super sweet, use ¼ cup of sugar with the rhubarb, and if they’re very tart (in which event you probably shouildn’t even be eating them), use 1/3 cup, if not a little more.

This isn’t the fastest dessert – the crust needs to chill for an hour and the whole thing bakes for about 40 minutes – but it’s incredibly easy to make, redolent of late spring, and is different enough from the classic to make it special.


Floral Rhubarb-Strawberry Crostata
serves 4

For the crust
½ stick (2 ounces) unsalted butter
2 teaspoons sugar
¼ teaspoon lavender buds
¾ cup all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon ice water

For the filling
1 ½ cups rhubarb
¼ - 1/3 cup sugar
1 cup strawberries
4 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon rosewater

To assemble
1 tablespoon milk or cream
1 tablespoon turbinado sugar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter (optional)


Make the dough
Cut butter into small cubes and chill in the freezer for 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, crush the lavender buds with the sugar to release their oil. Add the flour and salt and whisk to combine. Use your fingertips or a pastry blender to cut in the butter until the mixture is crumbly. Add 1 tablespoon of ice water and gently blend with a fork. Add a little more water at a time until the mixture is crumbly but will hold its shape when you clump it together in your hand (see photo). Turn the mixture out onto a large sheet of plastic wrap, shape into a disk, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 3 days.

Make the filling
Wash and dry the rhubarb and cut into ¾” chunks. Transfer to a bowl and toss with the sugar. Let the rhubarb sit for 15-20 minutes.

Wash, dry, and hull the strawberries. Cut them in half or into quarters (depending on their size) and mix with the rhubarb. Add the cornstarch and rosewater and mix to combine.

Assemble the crostata
Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Remove the dough from the fridge and let it sit at room temperature for 15-20 minutes to slightly soften. Place the dough on a large sheet of parchment paper and roll it into a circle approximately 12 inches in diameter (dough should be a little more than ¼” thick).  Transfer the parchment to the baking sheet.

Mound the fruit mixture into the center of the dough, leaving a 1.5 ” border around the edges. Fold the edges up and over the fruit. Brush the dough with the milk and sprinkle with the turbinado sugar. If using butter, cut it until small cubes and sprinkle it over the fruit filling.

Bake until the filling is bubbly and the crust is golden brown, about 30-45 minutes.

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