Rustic Fig Crostata

Before the yellow jackets had a chance to burrow in and steal their sticky sweet juices, my dad snagged a basket of perfectly plump figs from a friend's tree down in North Carolina. After snacking on a few handfuls with blue cheese, the remaining fruit stared us down like a ticking, over-ripening time bomb. Time to make a crostata.

Crostata is Italian for the simplest, sexiest free-form pie you should be making all the time, so go get some flour and let's get started. Ok, maybe not, but that's what it means to me. Fruit-filled crostatas are my go-to dessert. Think of the dough as a blank canvas waiting to be filled with pretty much anything that sounds good to you.

This rustic fig crostata has hardly any sugar — a scant teaspoon in the crust — so if you like things a little sweeter, serve it with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. Mascarpone with a little honey would also make a tasty topping. And this tart makes a perfectly acceptable breakfast.

Rustic Fig Crostata
serves 6

for the filling
15 ripe figs, sliced to 1/2-inch slices
1/3 cup plum jam (I like St. Dalfour brand with no added sugar.)
1 tablespoon lemon juice

for the crust
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon of sugar
10 tablespoon cold unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
1/3 cup ice water
optional: egg mixed with a little water to glaze the crust

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

To make the crust, combine the flour, salt and sugar in a food processor. Pulse a few times to combine. Add the butter, and pulse until the mixture’s largest chunks are about pea sized. With the food processor running, slowly drizzle the ice water through the feed tube until the dough starts to form a single ball.

Gather the dough together and place on the center of a piece of plastic wrap. Cover and shape into a small disc. Chill for at least 30 minutes in the fridge.

Remove dough from the fridge, and allow to sit on the counter for about 15 minutes. Flour your rolling surface, and gently roll the dough out into a rough 12-inch circle. (This is a rustic tart so no need for shapely perfection.) Drape the dough over the rolling pin and transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, combine the jam and lemon juice. Spread on the center of the crust leaving about a two-inch border. Line the figs up on top of the jam, and then gently fold the edges of the crust over the figs to form the crostata. With a pastry brush, coat the crust with a little egg wash.

Bake the crostata for 35-40 minutes or until the crust has browned and the juices are bubbling. Allow to cool, slice and serve with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, or mascarpone mixed with a little honey.