Crostata's - there's something so homely and comforting about this rustic dessert. And it's not just the combination of simple flavours, in this case a Honey, Thyme and Plum Crostata, enjoyed simply, for me at least, a lot of that comfort and joy comes from making it and ultimately sharing it with someone I love.
There's the slow deliberate rolling out of the pastry. No rushing here. Breathe and roll, easy does it. Perhaps I'm odd, but I find rolling out pastry relaxing. It's about being there, in the moment, and focusing on what you're doing, which is often hard to do in this highly strung, social media, multi-attention grabbing world we live in today.
Then there's the fruit, plums, which are sliced, tossed in a fragrant and sticky combination of honey and thyme leaves. The fruit is then arranged on imperfectly cut circles of pastry, which has been sprinkled with a smattering of almond meal. Finally the pastry is carefully and lovingly folded over the fruit and pinched to hold it all in, again imperfect but perfectly so, before being refrigerated and baked.
Then comes the cleaning. The part of cooking I enjoy the least, that is until it's done. Order from chaos is so rewarding. Thankfully there is never usually much chaos or mess in my kitchen. Due to a drastic shortage of bench space, there can't afford to be. However, as much as I don't enjoy the cleaning up part of the process, strangely I also find this relaxing. Perhaps that comes from knowing that the mess is a necessity of creation.
The most rewarding part though, is when my husband tastes my latest creation and either turns to smile at me, or greedily and inmediately digs in for another bite. Food, sure it's a fuel for our bodies, but it can also bring about so much comfort, joy, happiness and evoke memories or create new ones. And knowing that something you cooked, created with your hands, can do something so powerful is the most rewarding thing of all.
Honey, thyme and plum crostata
- 200 g of plain flour sifted, 1⅔ cups, all purpose
- 30 g of icing sugar sifted, ¼ cup, powdered
- 75 g of chilled unsalted butter chopped into cubes, 5¼ tbs
- 1 egg yolk
- 60 ml of cold water ¼ cup
- 6 to 8 plums depending on size
- 2 tbs honey
- 6 leaves sprigs of thyme picked
- 2 tbs almond meal ground almonds
- Add the flour and icing sugar to the bowl of a food processor and process to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolk and water and process until the mixture starts to come together in a ball. Remove from the food processor and form into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, slice the plums. You don't want them whisper thin, but you don't want them too thick and chunky either. Place the plums in a bowl along with the honey. Rub the thyme leaves between your fingers to release their flavour and add to the plums and toss well to ensure everything is coated.
- Preheat the oven to 180 celsius (350 fahrenheit) and remove the pastry from the refrigerator and roll until roughly 5mm thick. Cut out 4 discs from the pastry of roughly the same size and place on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Scatter the almond meal around the centre of each disc, leaving a border. Arrange the plums on top of the almond meal. Bring up the pastry border to enclose the filling, pleating as you go. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the pastry is lightly golden. Serve with your favourite accompaniment, be that ice cream, cream or coconut cream. Personally, I just eat them hot out of the oven without any other adornments, but my husband loves them with lashings of whipped cream.