How is it the last day of July already?! Where is this summer going?! I feel like it’s just EVAPORATING (although, I’m secretly super excited for fall. It’s my fav. Still not ready for AUGUST, though!).
Maybe it’s because we haven’t taken a vacation yet this summer. It feels like the season is getting away from me because we haven’t officially taken time to enjoy it yet. Does that make sense?
Anyway, we ARE taking our first family vacation (to the Jersey Shore) in a couple weeks. I’m looking forward to it/dreading it. I am nervous about taking Kieran to the beach for hours at a time. Is it possible to over pack for a child? I feel like we’re going to need both our cars, packed to the gills, to make this happen. We’re going with two families who happen to be some of our best friends and who also have two babies within six months of Kieran’s age. So that should help. We’ll all venture into it together. Fingers crossed that it isn’t a total disaster!
While we haven’t vacationed yet, we HAVE been spoiling ourselves on the amazing summer produce and savoring every single bite. Peaches, cherries, corn on the cob, tomatoes, watermelon, and these beautiful black plums. All have been making repeat appearances in our kitchen all summer long. These black plums are especially sweet this year, like little purply-black gems of juicy deliciousness. My favorite way to eat them is just as they are or sliced and mixed into Greek yogurt in the morning. Eating them wrapped in a flaky pastry made with mascarpone cheese isn’t so terrible either.
The dough used for this crostata is probably the easiest and my most-used pastry recipe. It ALWAYS comes out perfectly and is extremely easy to work with, which is key for me when it comes to dough. I am not a baker or a baking expert, so if I find something in the baking realm that I deem “easy,” it pretty much sticks around in the rotation forever. I use this dough for both sweet and savory tarts. For the savory, it’s the exact same recipe as below but without the sugar. I used it in this recipe, which is still one of our favs.
You can fill said dough with anything you like. A peach version of this tart makes an appearance every summer for me. I’ve also done it with apples in the fall. Like I said, though, the plums have been extra great this year, so that’s what I went with for this. Just look at how gorgeous they are! I could stare at sliced plums forever.
I am a big fan of mixing herbs into my sweets. Thyme, in particular, works so well with so many fruits. I’ve put it in various cocktails and even sorbet. It’s delicate enough so that it doesn’t overpower the sweetness while adding an interesting savoriness to the dish. I grow my own thyme in the summer, and my pot is OVERFLOWING right now. So, as you can probably imagine, I’m always looking for ways to use up more thyme. Pairing it with the sweet plums seemed obvious to me.
You could, of course, leave out the thyme if it’s not your thing, but I promise! It’s not too strong! OR you could swap in another herb. Basil or sage or even rosemary…although I’d go light on the rosemary as it could be overpowering. But those flavors would also work nicely here!
And because plums doused in thyme-infused syrup and wrapped up in the most delicate, flaky pastry dough ever wasn’t enough for me, I went ahead and tossed some toasted almonds into the mix. They not only add an awesome toasty nuttiness to the tart, but they add a much-needed crunch. I love varying textures, and the almonds serve that purpose perfectly here.
Serve this up just as it is or topped with A VERY generous scoop of vanilla ice cream or some freshly whipped cream. No matter how you enjoy it, this tart epitomizes all that is wonderful about summer.
Even if it going by way too fast.
1½ cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon fine salt
3 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
Juice of ½ a lemon
½ cup mascarpone cheese
2-4 tablespoons ice water
¼ cup toasted slivered almonds
5 black plums, pitted and sliced
2 teaspoons cornstarch
Zest of 1 lemon
½ cup sugar
3 tablespoons water
8-10 sprigs fresh thyme
Additional fresh thyme sprigs, for garnish
Vanilla ice cream or fresh whipped cream, for serving (optional)
In a food processor, pulse together the flour, powdered sugar, and salt. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles a coarse meal.
Whisk together the mascarpone and lemon juice in a small bowl and then add to the food processor. Pulse until the mascarpone mixture is just combined with the dry ingredients. Add the ice water a tablespoon at a time, pulsing after each addition, until the mixture is moist and comes together.
Carefully remove the dough from the food processor and place on a piece of plastic wrap. Form the dough into a disk and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes. Once chilled, roll out on a well-floured surface until the dough forms a 12-in circle that is roughly ¼-in thick. Transfer the dough to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Keep the rolled out dough in the fridge until it is ready to be filled.
In a large bowl, combine the almonds, plums, cornstarch, and lemon zest. Toss well to combine.
Combine the water and sugar in a small pot and bring to a boil. Simmer until the sugar is dissolved. Add in the fresh thyme, remove from heat, and allow the herbs to steep in the simple syrup until it reaches room temperature. Once cool, discard the thyme and add the infused simple syrup to the bowl with the plums. Toss to combine.
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Fill the dough with the plum mixture, leaving a 1-in border around the edge. Brush the egg wash around the edge and then fold it up over the filling, pressing gently to seal the cracks. The idea is for this to look rustic, so don’t worry about it being perfect. Once all the edges are pressed together, brush the dough with additional egg wash and sprinkle with a little bit of the turbinado sugar.
Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until the dough is golden brown and the bottom of the crostata is golden and crisp. Allow to cool slightly before garnishing with additional thyme sprigs. Slice and serve with whipped cream, vanilla ice cream, or just as is. This is fantastic served warm, at room temperature, or even chilled.
Crostata dough adapted from here.