Blueberries are not only delicious and full of antioxidants, they are also one of the few fruits native to North America. I have very fond memories of picking wild blueberries with my cousin in Massachusetts. They are the essence of summer. I know what they say about apple pie, but to me there’s nothing more American than a blueberry muffin. So on this July 4th weekend, let me share a spectacular recipe for blueberry cornmeal crostatas from Susan Spungen.
A crostata is a rustic Italian, free-form tart. This dough is made with cornmeal, giving it a delightfully crunchy texture. It is quite fragile though; Spungen compares it to cookie dough that “can’t be worked when it is ice cold, but it shouldn’t be too warm, either.” Luckily it is easy to patch by pressing it between your fingers.
Recently my friend Avi Rothman came over to take some pictures for this soon-to-be-revamped PEZZO blog. These photos are part of that series and I’m
excited to share the rest of them in the near future. He is supremely talented in so many ways!
Blueberry Cormeal Crostatas
For the Cornmeal Tart Dough
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 tsp kosher or fine sea salt
1 1/4 sticks (10 tblsp) unsalted butter at room temp
1/2 cup sugar
3 large egg yolks
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
For the Blueberries
2 pints blueberries, picked over
1/2 cup sugar
1 tblsp all-purpose flour
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 lemon
Vanilla ice cream, craime fraiche, or whipped cream for serving
For the dough:
1. Combine the flour, cornmeal, and salt in a bowl. Whisk to combine and set aside.
2. Cream together the butter and sugar. Stir in the yolks, one at a time, making sure each one is well combined before adding the next. Add the vanilla and mix well. Sift the dry ingredients over the wet ingredients and stir to combine until the dough forms a ball.
3. Divide the dough in two and pat into flat disks. Wrap each disk tightly in plastic wrap and chill or freeze until ready to use. (I let the dough chill for about 3 hours before I started working with it)
For the Crostatas:
1. Remove the dough from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before rolling.
2. Combine the blueberries, sugar, flour, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a large bowl. Toss together gently and set aside.
3. When the dough is malleable but still firm, cut each disk into quarters. Working quickly, use your hands to form a ball with one piece of dough. Flatten the ball and place between 2 pieces of plastic wrap. Roll out into a circle 5 to 6 inches in diameter and about 1/8-inch thick. Leave it in the plastic wrap and place the rolled dough on a plate. Transfer to the refrigerator. Continue to roll out the remaining dough, putting each in the refrigerator as you finish. Chill until firm but still workable.
4. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Place a circle of dough on the baking sheet, leaving room for the other crostatas. Spoon about 1/2 cup berry mixture onto the circle, leaving at least a 1-inch border. Bring the edges of the dough over the top to envelop the berries. Using your fingertips, fold in the edges, pressing gently to patch any holes. Cup your hands over the tart and press down firmly to shape. Repeat with remaining dough and berries. Chill for about 20 minutes before baking. Preheat the oven to 375°.
5. Bake until the crust turns golden brown and fruit is bubbling, about 25 minutes. Let set for 5 to 10 minutes before transferring to serving plates. Serve warm or room temperature with vanilla ice cream, craime fraiche, or whipped cream.