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SERIOUSLY SIMPLE: Peach Crostata is easy as pie

By Diane Rossen Worthington, Tribune Media Services on

When I am in a pinch for time but want something special for dessert, I often fall back on preparing a crostata. Sometimes called a galette in French cooking, this free-form tart has endless variations. A crostata is made by rolling out pastry dough into a large round. The fruit is placed in the center of the pastry and the dough is pulled up around the fruit and folded over to create a rustic looking tart, rather than a perfect-looking formal fruit tart. This couldn't be easier.

The unassuming appearance is a good thing. Even my friends who fear pastry making have great success with this recipe because it doesn't have to be picture perfect. The rough country look also expands the opportunity for variation. I have seen versions that feature thick raspberry jam, fresh pitted cherries, apricots and nectarines, blueberries and raspberries to name a few. Depending upon the sweetness of the fruit you select, you may need to adjust the amount of sugar.

Make sure to roll out the pastry dough to a large 13-inch circle. I keep extra flour on the pastry slab and rolling pin to keep the dough from sticking. The dough can be immediately rolled out and doesn't need to rest because the recipe calls for frozen butter, which keeps the dough sufficiently chilled. It also uses white pastry flour that has a lower gluten content and does not need to rest. If you are using all-purpose flour, you can chill it for a half hour before rolling out.

In this crowd-pleasing dessert, the skin is deliberately left on the peaches for a rustic texture. Nectarines can be substituted for the peaches if you like. I like to serve this warm, so I will bake it an hour or two before serving. Don't forget a scoop of French vanilla ice cream.

Look for pastry flour at gourmet shops or online at http://www.kingarthurflour.com/shop/items/king-arthur-unbleached-pastry-flour-3-lb

Peach Crostata

Serves 6

Crust:

1 1/4 cups white unbleached pastry flour or all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

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