* The memory card of my camera just crashed and that's the only picture I could recover of the crostata right before getting in the oven.
A crostata is a dessert that is filled with jams or fruits and its sweet crust is folded inward at each edge. It gives the tart a more artisanal, which means rustic in French, and free-form look than other regular pies.
I made the dough with polenta to give it a more crumbly texture and flavored it with star anise. I used fresh ginger and Meyer lemon for the filling in addition to the blueberries.
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, +2 tablespoons for the filling
3/4 cup coarse polenta (not quick cooking)
1 drizzle canola oil, for greasing the food processor
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon anise extract
2/3 cup sugar, + 2 tablespoons for the egg
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (cold), diced
3-1/4 cups blueberries
1-1/2 tablespoons tapioca flour
3 tablespoons pecans, coarsely crushed
1 Meyer lemon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons ginger paste (see tips)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon extract, or powdered
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
1 tablespoon Belgian pearl sugar, coarsely crushed
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
For the sweet polenta dough:
Using a handheld mixer, whisk the egg with 2 tablespoons of sugar until you get a pale yellow foam. It'll take about 5-6 minutes. The consistency must be very airy. Add the vanilla and anise extracts. Set aside.
Lightly oil the bowl of your food processor with a silicone brush. Add 1-1/2 cups of flour, baking powder, 1/3 cup sugar, the polenta, 1/8 teaspoon of salt. Blend for a few seconds, then add the cold butter. Pulse the mixture until it forms crumbs of butter and flour. Add the egg mixture. Pulse another 3-4 times until it forms a dough. Do NOT overmix. Transfer the dough onto a pastry board lined with a sheet of parchment paper. Place a silicone mat (or parchment paper) on top of the dough like a sandwich. Even out the dough using a rolling pin to about 1/2 inch thick. Create 6 disks about 9 inches in diameter Set aside.
For the blueberry pie filling:
Wash the blueberries. Place them in a bowl. Coat them in 1/3 cup of sugar and 2 tablespoons of brown sugar. Let stand for about 10-15 minutes until the juices begin to flow. Add the ginger paste, cinnamon extract and Meyer lemon zest. Drizzle the juice of a Meyer lemon. Let them stand for about 15 minutes. Sprinkle the remaning flour and tapioca flour and nutmeg. Toss well. Set aside.
Assembling the blueberry crostata: Flip each disk onto a baking tray lined with the silicon mat that was topping the dough. Place about 3 tablespoons of the blueberry pie filling in the center. Fold the dough on each side of the tart creating a "free-form" blossom pocket. Sprinkle with Belgian pearl sugar. Bake for 15 minutes at 375°F, then lower the temperature to 350°F and cook for another 30 minutes. If the crostata is not golden enough, you can broil the tarts for about 2 minutes.
Serve warm with hot tea or a cardamom-flavored Arnold Palmer if you like.
I prefer making individually portioned crostatas. The "mini" crostata tarts always make my guests feel less guilty , which means they always ask for more. I serve 6 mini tarts or you can serve 4 regular-sized crostata for very hungry (greedy!) dessert eaters.
To form a flaky dough, it's important to use cold diced butter.
You can find tapioca flour in any Asian store.
I had a ton of Meyer lemons in my garden, so I used the zest to brighten up the blueberry pie filling. I've used Meyer lemons in cake icing and panna cotta. I'm running out of ideas. Your suggestions are welcome!
Belgian pearl sugar is available in specialty stores like Sur La Table and online. Belgian Pearl sugar is a coarse sugar that has a less sweet flavor than regular sugar. I also use the sugar for making my rugelach, pandan and coconut brioche and waffle.
I use McCormick anise extract. If you don't have any, you can use star anise seeds, dry roast them and grind them finely in a mortar and pestle.
A little reminder on how to make ginger paste: Clean the ginger and remove any dirt. Peel the ginger root with a paring knife. Grate the ginger with a fine mesh microplane. Gather about 2 teaspoons of grated ginger root.
You can substitute peaches for the blueberries or mix with dried fruit and nuts as well, depending on the season. Let the crostata rest for at least 10 minutes before serving. The blueberry pie filling will thicken as it cools. I like serving the crostata warm or at room temperature with a sweet crème glacée or vanilla-flavored sweetened whipped cream.