Mini Blueberry Thyme Crostatas

Alas, the cold weather is finally gone and we seem to have fast forwarded through spring and into summer with the blink of an eye.  While I really shouldn’t complain about the heat after our awful winter…it is really hot!!! Especially when you have no air conditioning because your building is fixing your pipes through June (insert sad violin melody here).

So to welcome “summer”, and full embrace the heat, I decided to warm up my steamy apartment a little more by baking! (Clearly I have my priorities straight.)  Blueberries are one of my favorite summer fruits (along with raspberries, strawberries, peaches, cherries watermelon…) and they were on sale at my local Whole Foods (Paycheck) so I decided to adapt one of my favorite crostata recipes.

The original recipe is for an apple crostata but last summer I substituted apples for peaches with a beautiful result.  This time I decided to go mini (yes, I have an obsession with mini desserts) with blueberries as the star, minus the buttery streusel.  Could it be that I’m trying to bake a little healthier? Or maybe I just got lazy…  I love using herbs and citrus in baking so I added some lemon zest to the crust and some fresh thyme to the blueberries.

They are delicious on their own, or if you want to increase your daily calcium and vitamin D intake, you can top with a whipped mascarpone cream (equal parts whipping cream and mascarpone, whipped until thick and creamy and flavored with a touch of powdered sugar and vanilla).

Final note to self: Making pie dough in 80+ weather with no AC is a little difficult and requires much refrigeration in between steps.  Best to avoid, if possible, until AC situation remedied!  Try ice cream instead 🙂

Mini Blueberry Thyme Crostatas

(makes about 5 crostatas)

Crust: (Adapted from Kosher by Design cookbook)

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbs sugar
zest of 1 lemon
2 sticks (1 cup, 16 Tbs) unsalted butter, cold, cut into about 8 pieces
4-5 Tbs ice water

Blueberry Thyme Filling:

2 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
1/4 cup sugar
juice of 1 lemon
1 Tbs flour
1 Tbs cornstarch
dash of cinnamon
1/2 tsp fresh thyme leaves

Egg wash:

1 egg mixed with 1 Tbs water

For the crust:

In a food processor, pulse flour, salt, sugar and lemon zest 2-3 times until mixed.  Add the chilled butter.  Pulse until mixture resembles peas.  Add the ice water 1 Tbs at a time until the dough just comes together.

Turn dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap or parchment paper.  Knead briefly to bring together in a ball and flatten slightly into a disc.   Chill  for 30 minutes in the refrigerator.

For the blueberries:

Mix all of the above ingredients together.  Allow to sit for about 10 minutes.

Assembly:

Preheat the oven to 375.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and set on a lightly floured surface.  Roll the dough out until it reaches 1/4 inch thickness.  Cut into 6 inch rounds, I used a bowl as my guide.  After cutting the first 2-3 rounds, you’ll need to re-roll the scraps to cut more.  If dough becomes too soft and difficult to roll, refrigerate again for about 10 minutes.  You should get 5 small circles.

Spoon blueberry filling into the center, leaving at least a 1 inch border.  Be careful not to overfill, you will likely have leftover filling.

Fold the edges over the filling, covering about an inch of filling all around.  Make sure to seal any seams so it stays folded while baking.  Brush the crust with the egg wash.  Bake for 30-40 minutes until crust is golden brown and blueberries are bubbling.  (If crust browns too quickly, you can cover crust with tinfoil with center cut out.)  Remove from oven and cool for at least one hour.  Enjoy!

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Blueberry Buttermilk Tart

Although I did not win at Powerball this past week, I did come into a bit of luck this weekend when one of my rare days off fell on one of the most gorgeous weekends of summer.  My friend and I decided to take full advantage of the sun and the fact that I have a car for the month (thanks mom!) and headed to Crane Beach in Ipswich, MA.  After 4 hours of sun, we decided to head back to Boston but made a detour on the way stopping at Russell Orchards for wine tasting (fruit wines), berry picking and cider donuts!  I was a little disappointed that raspberry picking was over, but they had ample blueberries and blackberries for picking (and tasting along the way).

With a pint of freshly picked blueberries in hand, I scoured epicurious.com for summer blueberry recipes and came across this Blueberry Buttermilk Tart.  Although it was published in 1990, it had some recent rave reviews from home bakers that have continued to make this throughout the years.  It starts with a butter tart shell that is blind baked and is then filled with fresh blueberries and a buttermilk lemon custard-like filling.  I will admit that the recipe was not perfect for me.  I had a little difficulty with the tart dough and ended up having to patch several areas that cracked and ripped as I transferred it to the tart pan after rolling.  In addition, the filling took a little longer than the stated time to set and although the outcome was delicious, I would have left mine in an extra 5 minutes in hindsight.  Even with these slight flaws, it is a scrumptious summer dessert and great for berry picking experiments!

Stay tuned for how I used my blackberries in my next post!

Click here for the recipe. Continue reading