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Cooking with summer peaches and blackberries

"Simple Fruits" author Laurie Pfalzer shares her recipe for blackberry and peach crostata. #newdaynw

SEATTLE — Pastry chef and cookbook author Laurie Pfalzer highlights two fruits that are in their peak in August — blackberries and peaches — in a delicious crostata. It's adapted from a recipe in her book "Simple Fruits."

Marionberry Crostata with Whole Grain Crust

Makes one 9-inch tart

Serves 6


  • 1/2 recipe Flaky Pie Dough with whole grain flour variation (recipe follows)
  • 4 cups (580 g) marionberries (or blackberries, tayberries or loganberries)
  • 1 large peach (optional — in place of 1 cup marionberries)
  • ½ cup (67 g) sugar, plus 2 tablespoons for finishing
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 vanilla bean scraped
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon butter

Variation: replace 1-2 cups of berries with sliced or cubed peaches


  1. Prepare a parchment-lined baking sheet with oil spray on the pan, and then spray the parchment well. This keeps the crostata from sticking since juices are likely to leak out.
  2. Combine the marionberries, cornstarch, vanilla bean, nutmeg, and salt in a bowl and toss gently to combine.
  3. Roll out the pie dough according to the instructions to about 10 inches in diameter and 1/8 inch thick. Using a pastry or pizza cutter (or knife), trim the perimeter of the dough. The dough does not need to be round to work for your crostata. An odd shape or even oval will work fine.
  4. Flip the dough over and move it to the parchment-lined baking sheet. Stir the filling a few more times gently and spoon all of the filling into the middle of the dough, leaving a two-inch border of dough. Break up the butter into nickel-size pieces and distribute them over the top of the fruit.
  5. To pleat the dough over the fruit, use one hand to pull the top edge of the dough into the fruit. Leaving your hand holding the dough, use your other hand to pleat the next section. Continue to move around the crostata, one hand holding the dough and the other hand folding it over until the entire crostata is pleated. There will be about a four-inch open circle of fruit in the middle. Freeze the crostata for 30 minutes or until the dough is solid. (This helps the crostata to hold its shape while baking.) The crostata could be frozen overnight and baked the next day.
  6. When you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 400°F. Brush the top of the crostata with milk and sprinkle with sugar. Bake the crostata for 15-20 minutes or until the crust is dry and starting to brown. Reduce the temperature to 350°F and continue baking the crostata until it is dark golden brown the juices are bubbling, 20-25 minutes.
  7. Cool the crostata to room temperature or barely warm before serving. Store the crostata in an air-tight container at room temperature for two days or in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

© by Laurie Pfalzer. Excerpted from "Simple Fruit: Seasonal Recipes for Baking, Poaching, Sautéing, and Roasting" by permission of Sasquatch Books.

Flaky Pie Dough

Makes 2 (9 or 10-inch) pie crusts


  • 2 ½ cups (340 g) all-purpose flour or whole grain flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (227 g) unsalted butter, very cold, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 8-10 tablespoons (about 227 ml) ice water


  1. Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl. (On a hot day, you can freeze the flour and salt for 15 minutes to help it stay cold while you work with it.)
  2. Add the butter pieces to the flour and quickly work it in with your hands by pinching the butter between your fingers and breaking it apart. I tell my students not to dawdle with this step, so the butter stays cold. Continue tossing and processing the dough and butter with your fingers until you still have some larger pieces of butter, and the rest of the flour looks like meal from the butter being worked into it.
  3. Add the ice water, 4 tablespoons or 1/4 cup at time, pouring it each time over the entire crust mixture. Using a fork, toss the ingredients together, cutting through the crust mixture several times. After the first 1/2 cup or 8 tablespoons water add 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough starts to hold together. This is a critical point. The dough will look shaggy and not come together easily in the bowl. Test the dough's moisture by gently squeezing it with your hand: if it is starting to hold together, it's ready; if not, add a little more water until it holds. You do not want the dough to be wet: too much water makes a tough dough.
  4. Place the dough onto a work surface. Quickly press the dough to about 1-inch-thick. Fold the dough and pat out again, folding a second time. The dough should be holding together at this point. (If not, sweep the dough back into the bowl, break it apart and add another tablespoon of water. Don't fold it again, as you may overwork the dough. Divide the dough into 2 equal parts. Gently form 2 disks about 1-inch-thick. Don't work the dough or try to make it pretty. Cracks and chunks of butter are normal. Wrap the disks with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour or overnight.
  5. Rolling out the dough: Remove the chilled disks from the refrigerator and roll out each disk with a rolling pin on a surface dusted lightly with flour. Flour the top of the dough also before rolling. I like to pound the dough 5 or 6 times, then turn it 1/4 turn and pound it again 5-6 times to start to soften it. Then roll from the middle up and middle down 6-8 times. Turn the dough 1/4 turn (grabbing some of the flower on the counter for the bottom and dusting the top again if needed) and continue to roll 6-8 times. 
  6. Continue this pattern until the dough is about 1/16 inch (2 mm) thick. Use your hands to feel the dough all the way around to insure a consistent thickness. Use the rolling pin to even out the dough. (On a hot day, the dough may become too warm and soft while rolling it out. Return it to the fridge for about 15 minutes to chill and you get to take a chill break too. (See the specific pie recipe for building the pie after rolling the dough.)
  7. The dough disks can be frozen for up to 4 weeks; thaw them overnight in the refrigerator before using.

© by Laurie Pfalzer. Excerpted from "Simple Fruit: Seasonal Recipes for Baking, Poaching, Sautéing, and Roasting" by permission of Sasquatch Books.

Segment Producer Rebecca Perry. Watch New Day Northwest 11 a.m. weekdays on KING 5 and streaming live on KING5.com. Contact New Day.

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