It’s cherry season! This short, yet deliciously sweet, blip on the calendar is one I look forward to it every summer. I can barely contain my excitement when these sweet, red jewels begin to trickle into the farmer’s markets and grocery stores here in New Jersey.
Summers ripe cherries can be eaten raw, baked in delicious clafoutis, pies, or cakes! While cherries are iconic in many recipes, using them in a crostata would produce a quick, sweet, juicy fruit dessert surrounded by a free-form flaky crust.
Should you put yourself through the ordeal of making a pie crust or buy a store-bought pie crust? It’s your decision, but my food-processor-made pie crust is easy, tender, flaky and bakes to a rich golden color.
The secret is briefly roasting halved and pitted cherries in the oven. This step adds brightness and intensifies the sweet-tart cherry flavor filling. A crisp, buttery crumb topping with a note of cardamom makes this crostata well worth the effort.
This irresistible and versatile dessert can be made in advance or baked in the oven right before serving.
Cherry season is always gone too soon, so get cracking on summers treasures.
Meet ya in the kitchen!
For the Crumbs:
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cardamon
5 tablespoons cold butter, cut into bits
Making the Crumbs:
Put the flour, brown sugar, and cardamom in a small bowl. Blend flour with your fingertips. Add the bits of cold butter, using your fingers to work the butter into the dry ingredients until you have shaped the crumbs. Set aside in the refrigerator until needed.
For the Tender Cream Cheese Crust:
8 tablespoons frozen or well-chilled butter, cut into bits
1 1/3 cups + 4 teaspoons flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
3 ounces cream cheese, cold
1 1/2 tablespoon ice water
1 1/2 teaspoons cider vinegar
In a bowl to a food processor, add flour, salt, and baking powder and process for a few seconds to combine. Cut the cream cheese into 3 or 4 pieces and add it to the flour. Process for about 20 seconds or until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the frozen butter and pulse until none of the butter is larger than the size of a pea. Remove the cover and add the water and vinegar. Pulse until most of the butter is reduced and looks like particles and will hold together when formed. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap, flatten it into a disc, and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes. Can be made ahead and stored 2 days in advance.
For the Filling:
1 lb fresh cherries, pitted and halved
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons lemon zest
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/3 cup sliced almonds
1 egg yolk
Making the Filling:
Adjust the oven rack to the upper-middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and place cherries cut side up, on the sheet. Roast cherries on upper rack until just tender and cut sides look dry, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl to cool for 5 minutes. Add flour, sugar, cinnamon, salt, zest, almonds, and extract; toss to coat cherries thoroughly. Set aside while preparing to roll out the dough.
After the dough has chilled, let the dough sit on the counter to soften slightly, about 5 minutes. Roll the dough into a 12-inch circle between 2 large sheets of floured parchment paper. (If dough sticks to parchment, gently loosen and lift sticky area with a bench scraper and dust parchment with additional flour.) Slide dough, still between parchment sheets, onto a rimmed baking sheet and refrigerate until dough is firm 15 to 30 minutes.
Putting It All Together:
Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Remove top sheet of parchment paper from dough. Mound the cherries in the center of the dough and spread filling, leaving a 2 1/2 inch border around the edge. Sprinkle the crumbs evenly on top. Being careful, using the parchment to help lift the sections of the border of dough, draping it over the filling to enclose all but the center section. Gently pinch pleat the dough to secure but do not press the press the dough into the filling. The dough will pleat attractively as it falls into place. Trim away any excess parchment that may extend beyond the baking sheet and refrigerate the crostata for 10 minutes.
Brush the top of the dough with the beaten egg yolk +1 teaspoon water. Then sprinkle the dough with sugar.
Bake until crust is deep golden brown and fruit is bubbling in the middle, about 30 minutes. Let cool on baking sheet for 10 minutes before serving.
Cherries won’t be around much longer, though, so before they start to disappear, make sure you’ve tried as many of my favorite sweet recipes. Also, try my Juicy Sweet Cherry Clafouti, when short on ideas!
Bake some Love and Share it!