This free-form tart is a perfect marriage of buttery crust, sweet honey, luscious fruit, and an unexpected hint of pepper. We love to combine pears with a bit of dried fruit plumped in Madeira, sherry, or dry port. The pairing is homey yet sophisticated, making it one of our favorite desserts featured in our cookbook, The Community Table (Grand Central Publishing release March 24, 2015), by Katja Goldman, Judy Bernstein Bunzl, and Lisa Rotmil. Serve with whipped cream drizzled with honey or powdered sugar. —TheCommunityTable
2 1/4 cups
unbleached all-purpose flour
chilled unsalted butter or solid coconut oil, cut into tablespoon size pieces
Pear and Dried Cherry Filling
madeira, sherry, or dry port
pears, such as red, Bosc, or Anjou, or a combination
For the crust, in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade, combine the flours, sugar, and salt and pulse to combine.
Add the butter or solid coconut oil and, with a spoon, coat each piece with the flour mixture. Pulse to create coarse meal, 15 or 20 times. Add the lemon juice and drizzle in 3 tablespoons water. Pulse until the dough comes together, 12 or 15 times. Do not overwork. Transfer this crumbly mixture onto a large piece of parchment paper and press the mixture into a ball with your hands.
Knead in the remaining 1 tablespoon water, if necessary, to bring the dough together.
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Shape the dough into a flat disk with your hands, place between 2 sheets of parchment, and roll to make a 14-inch circle. Transfer the dough, still on the bottom parchment, onto a baking sheet and chill.
For the filling, in a small saucepan warm the Madeira over low heat. Transfer to a small bowl, add the dried cherries, and allow them to plump, about 15 minutes.
Core and cut the pears (leaving the skin on) into 3/4-inch cubes, transfer to a medium bowl, and toss with the lemon juice. Add the flour and sugar to the pears and toss to combine.
Spread the honey on the crust 3 inches from the edge. Sprinkle the black pepper over the honey. Arrange the pears on the dough, covering the honey portion only. Drain the cherries and sprinkle all around the pears. With your hands, carefully fold the 3-inch border of dough over the fruit, overlapping it as necessary. (The dough needs to be cold when it goes into the oven, so work quickly, or re-chill before baking.)
Bake for 35 minutes, rotating the sheet a few times. Reduce the temperature to 350°F and bake until the crust is golden and the fruit is fork-tender, 10 to 15 minutes more. Keeping the crostata on the parchment paper, transfer it to a cooling rack. Allow it to cool for at least 20 minutes.
Note: This recipe can be adapted throughout the year with seasonal fruit from the farmer's market.