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Author Notes: Crostata is what happens when Tart and Pie sneak off into a dark corner when no one is looking. The tart can be made one of two ways: with the crust rustically tucked up the sides like a loose pouch (similar to a galette), or with a loose, lattice top. I include the instructions here for the lattice version. This shorter, slightly more rustic variation of Italian origin features a buttery, almost shortbread-like crust that is just as much a part of the dessert as the cognac-macerated fruit filling. Though I chose a fresh fruit filling, these are also commonly filled with jams and fruit preserves making it an ideal winter tart.
Makes 1 9" tart
For the tart crust
- 1 1/2 cup All-Purpose Flour
- 1 3/4 cup Whole Wheat Flour
- 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
- 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
- 3/4 cups butter, cold and cut into small cubes
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- zest of 1 whole lemon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
For the filling
- 5 crisp Bartlett pears, peeled, cored, and quartered
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup cognac
- 3 tablespoons pear or apple butter (optional)
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 egg white
- 1 tablespoon Turbinado sugar for decorating
- Generously butter a 9" springform pan and set aside
- Combine both flours and the baking powder in the base of an electric mixer or food processor and mix in the cold bits of butter one at a time until the dough is clumpy and in chunks.
- Add the eggs, waiting for the first to be incorporated before adding the second.
- Add the sugar, lemon zest, extracts, and salt. Continue to mix until the dough starts to come together.
- Remove from the mixer and turn out onto a floured surface. Use your hands to continue to knead the dough until it is smooth. Form into a disc and wrap in plastic, then place in the fridge for one hour (or up to 24 hours).
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees
- While the dough is chilling, prepare the filling. Mix the pears quarters in a large bowl with the sugar, cognac, and lemon juice. Let macerate for at least 30 minutes.
- When you are ready to bake, remove the dough from the fridge and let warm up slightly to make it easier to handle. Use a pastry cutter to cut off a third that you will use for the lattice. Set this aside.
- Place the larger portion of dough between two sheets of wax or parchment paper and roll out into a 9” circle. It’s OK if it cracks a bit on the edges or even if it breaks. You can press it back into shape.
- Lay this into the springform or tart pan and press onto the bottom and against the sides. It should come up about 1.5 inches on the side. Cut off any excess and add to the lattice ball of dough. Use a fork to puncture all over the base of the crust.
- Arrange the pear quarters concentrically in the crust, being sure to reserve the liquid in the bowl. Place two quarters in the center. Keep the pears close together, but do not overlap more than the edges. You may have extra pears—don’t try to squeeze them in. This isn’t supposed to be a deep pie.
- Beat one egg white and the pear butter (if using) into the remaining cognac lemon juice left in the bowl and pour this evenly over the pears in the crust.
- Break off small pieces of dough and roll them into 1/4” thick snakes in graduated lengths and lay these across the pie about 1 1/2 inches apart. Rotate the pan 180 degrees and repeat with 1/4" thick pieces laid perpendicularly. You want to keep the lattice loose so that the fruit still comes through. Note that you may be left with a little extra dough (makes great pie crust cookies!)
- Sprinkle the top of the cake with the turbinado sugar
- Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for approximately 1 hour or until the dough is golden. Let for 10 minutes before removing the sides of the springform pan, then let cool completely before sliding onto a serving dish. Note: This can be made one day ahead as the flavors are actually better once they've had a chance to sit for a little while.