I have cherry juice dripping down my arms and my fingertips are stained red. There is homemade pastry dough chilling in the fridge. I’m chanting an encouraging mantra under my breath. You can do this. You’re going to do this. What have I gotten myself into?
I checked and rechecked Ina’s recipe for her Apple Crostata. I needed a recipe for the tart crust. I was so nervous. I even wrote the steps out as a paranoid meditation in accuracy—al to what seemed like no avail. When I pulsed the ingredients in the food processor, they didn’t come together as promised. I had to add far more water than was required. I was certain I’d already failed and I hadn’t even turned on the oven yet.
I dumped the powdery ingredients out on my work surface. I worked the dust into a solid mass, concerned I’d handled the butter too much, that it melted from the sheer panic coursing through my veins—never mind the heat from my fingertips. But I shaped it into a disc just like Ina instructed. It almost looked like hers. Maybe there was hope.
If you follow me on snapchat (whatdoyoucrave) you could have seen the whole frantic ordeal. My panic and comical self-doubt is reason enough to follow along. I’m very entertaining.
But I wasn’t out of the woods yet. I was concerned my filling would yeild too much liquid. Cherries, blueberries, bourbon—would it get soggy and runny? Would it seep through and disintegrate the crust? Since I just made up the filling on a whim I was uncertain. But I’d already begun; there was no turning back.
I mixed pitted cherries with blueberries, fresh ginger, basil, and a splash of Heritage Distilling’s Brown Sugar Bourbon. For sweetness I used my new favorite sugar alternative Sweet Revenge’s Coconut Flow Nectar. It’s reminiscent of brown sugar and went perfectly with the bourbon. I used it in the tart dough as well.
I turned to Ina Garten for the crostata dough recipe—which you can find here—because she makes everything seems so elegantly effortless. The cadence of her voice is measured, even. This paired with her East coast charm and the fact that everything is “amazing” lulls me into a state of ease, which lent me the courage to carry on.
What can I say friends? I did it. I baked something and it came out…fine. Better than fine. The crust was flaky and held together. The filling was juicy but not drenched. It was sweet but not too sweet and balanced with the bite from the ginger and fragrant basil. It passed every discriminating test I put it to. Simon, who hates anything that even resembles pie, conceded and allowed that it looked and smelled perfect.
So there you have it. I yield. I’ll no longer say I can bake anymore. I’ll say I’m learning…
- 1 recipe Ina’s Crostata Dough (recipe link below)
- For Filling
- 2 cups fresh, pitted cherries
- 1 cup blueberries
- 2 tsp. fresh grated ginger
- 1 Tbsp. chopped basil
- 2 Tbsp. Heritage Distilling Brown Sugar Bourbon
- 4 Tbsp. Sweet Revenge Coconut Nectar
- 2 tsp. cornstarch
- Egg wash
- **1 egg whisked with 2 Tbsp. milk, for tart crust, optional
- Preheat oven to 450°F.
- After prepared dough has chilled for at least an hour, place it on a floured surface and roll it out to about a 12 inch disc.
- Carefully transfer it to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Mix all the filling ingredients together in a large bowl.
- Place filling in the center of the tart dough leaving at last a 1 inch border. Fold over edges.
- Brush edges of dough with egg and milk mixture.
- Bake for about 25 minutes until crostata is golden and filling is bubbling.
- Allow to cool before serving warm, with more fresh basil and vanilla ice cream.
- You can add 1/4 cup sugar to the filling for sweeter results. I just like a more tart flavor.