Blueberry and peach season overlap for a very brief moment here in New Jersey. Blueberry season starts in early-mid June and usually goes until the end of July, early August max. While peach season usually begins in early-mid July and wraps up in the beginning of September. It’s a shame that they aren’t in season at the exact same time, because they go together oh so beautifully.
This crostata was developed as a way to use up a few random peaches I had popped in the fridge so they wouldn’t spoil, and the contents of 3 different pints of blueberries that all had various amounts of berries remaining inside. We’re not so great at the “use up the last one before opening the new one” rule in this house. Making crostata, the Italian name for these little free form tarts (galette in French) is my go-to way for using up little odds and ends around the kitchen, both sweet and savory. In truth, I’m always just searching for an excuse to wrap something up in a buttery pastry crust.
During the season I hoard all the blueberries I can and freeze them so we can enjoy them throughout the year, but they rarely make it past the end of summer. Blueberries are incredibly easy to freeze- just pop them on a sheet pan, freeze, then pour into a zip-top bag. Peaches on the other hand require a bit more work – they must first be skinned, pitted and sliced before proceeding to the sheet pan. Usually I’m too lazy to go through the trouble, and the peaches ripening on the counter often get devoured before I even have the chance. Both frozen blueberries and/or peaches would work marvelously in this recipe, especially if they were frozen from your own in-season stash.
I love this tart because it’s rustic and elegant all at the same time. Strikingly pretty with it’s deep purple and orange filling and it’s golden brown, sugar-flecked frame. Lovely served warm at a dinner party with a dollop of fresh whipped cream, this tart will act as both dessert and scented candle to perfume the room. And yet it’s just as perfect to eat hovered over the sink, in your pajamas, right before tucking into bed. The latter is my preferred serving suggestion, although both are nice in their own way.
I use only cinnamon and vanilla to flavor the filling. There’s something about the subtle aroma of cinnamon that, when used in the right quantity, is able to enhance the flavor of the fruit without overwhelming. I’ve tried other warm spices in the past: allspice, cardamom, star anise, ginger, orange, lemon, nutmeg and clove. Don’t be tempted. It’s too much. Let the blueberries and peaches shine. This is what they were made for.
I have a bit of an obsession with crostatas, galettes, pies and tarts. If you share my affinity for all things buttery and flaky, here are a few of my favs:
Meyer Lemon + Cardamom Tart
Crostata with Caraway, Havarti + Pears
French Tomato + Goat Cheese Tart
Cherry Vanilla Ricotta Crostata
Grandma’s Apple Pie
Strawberry + Goat Cheese Pastries
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 4 1/2 ounces COLD unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 large egg
- 2-3 tablespoons cold water
- 1 lb ripe, but firm peaches (about 3 large)
- 1 pint blueberries
- pinch of salt
- 1/4 cup vanilla sugar* OR 1/4 cup regular white sugar and 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 egg, beaten with 2 teaspoons of water
- 1 tablespoon sugar in the raw
- To make the dough, start by mixing the flour, sugar and salt together in a bowl. Add the butter and use a pastry cutter or a fork to cut the butter into the flour. Do this for about two minutes, until the butter is broken into pea sized pieces.
- Whisk together the egg and two tablespoons of cold water, then pour it into the flour mixture. Use a fork to stir the mixture until it comes together, adding one to two additional tablespoons of water until it forms a ball. Do not knead the dough or mix any further. Wrap the ball in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes prior to rolling out.
- Bring a large pot of water up to a boil, prepare an ice bath, and score an X on the bottom of each peach. Drop the peaches into the boiling water for about 30 seconds, or until the skin begins to peel up from the cut ends. Remove from the water and immediately submerge into the ice bath. Once cool enough to handle, the skins should easily peel off. cut the peaches in half, remove the core, slice into 3/4 inch pieces and place in a bowl.
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Add the blueberries to the bowl along with the salt, sugar, cinnamon and flour, then mix to combine. Roll out the dough to about a 12" circle and transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet. Pour the fruit mixture into the center leaving a 2-inch border around the outside. Gather and fold the dough up around the sides to enclose the filling.
- Dot the butter around the top of the filling. Brush the exposed dough with the egg wash, then sprinkle the raw sugar on top. Bake for about 25-30 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown and the filling is bubbling. Serve warm, ideally with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
- *I make vanilla sugar by storing old, used vanilla beans in a canister with granulated sugar. Over time, they give off their perfume and it gets absorbed by the sugar, creating a lightly vanilla infused sugar. I keep it on hand to stir into coffee or use in sweet recipes such as this. Regular can be substituted along with a teaspoon of vanilla extract, or leave the vanilla out altogether.
- **To achieve a tender, flaky pie crust, the dough needs to stay cold at all times. Be sure to start with chilled ingredients and place the bowl in the freezer for a few minutes if it's starting to get too warm. Placing the prepared tart in the freezer for a few minutes before baking ensures that the crust will be super flaky.