Strawberries and rhubarb go so nicely together. When I was young, my Grandpa Bell used to enjoy my Nanny’s strawberry & rhubarb pies and during the spring season at family get-togethers, he would always hope there would be a fruity treat sitting on the table for dessert.
Strawberries are sometimes challenging to bake with because of the high water content. They tend to make cakes and other desserts soggy or gummy and that’s why they are usually best fresh as a filling, like in shortcakes or pre-baked pie crusts. However, crostatas or rustic tarts are different because they can handle the moisture, if baked long enough, especially with the right combination of fruit and sugar.
The large circle of dough, filled with a mixture of strawberries and rhubarb cooks evenly when spread out more flat with hand-formed rustic edges. The fruits turn into a thickened syrupy blend that tastes like fresh preserves spooned from a jar.
Crostatas are a nice dessert to bake for gatherings or parties because they are relatively easy to put together and they serve several people. The mascarpone vanilla cream adds a mild tang when dolloped on top of a slice of crostata, but you can always serve it with vanilla ice cream instead.
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoon sugar + more for edge
4 tablespoons butter, cold and diced
4 tablespoons lard, cold
1/2 cup ice water
1 egg, for egg wash
3 cups strawberries, washed and sliced
3 stalks rhubarb, washed
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
pinch of salt
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
5 tablespoons butter, cold and diced
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
4 ounces mascarpone cheese, room temperature
3 tablespoons confectioners sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
(Makes 1 large tart)
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. To make the crust – in a stand mixer, combine flour and sugar. Mix on low to combine, 30 seconds. Then, add butter and lard and mix on low until coarse crumbs, about 1 minute. While the mixer in running, pour in ice water and continue to mix just until dough begins to come together, 30 seconds. Dump dough out into plastic wrap and form into a disc. Refrigerate while you are preparing filling and topping.
2. To make the filling – slice rhubarb and place it in a bowl along with strawberries, sugar, cornstarch and salt. Toss to combine, set aside.
3. To make the topping – add flour, sugars and butter in a small bowl. Using your fingers, squeeze butter into the dry ingredients, until it resembles coarse crumbs. Set aside.
4. Remove dough from refrigerator and place on a flour-dusted surface. Using a rolling pin, roll dough out into an 20-inch circle and place it on a parchment lined sheet pan. Spoon strawberry rhubarb mixture into center of the dough and spread it out until it reaches 2-inches from the edges.
5. Sprinkle crumb topping on top of strawberry rhubarb mixture. Turn dough up onto strawberry rhubarb mixture to form an edge – sort of a rustic pleated edge.
6. Place tart in refrigerator to chill for 20 minutes. Remove it from refrigerator and brush it with an egg wash (1 egg + 1 tablespoon water). Sprinkle edges with sugar.
7. Place crostata in the oven to bake for 50-65 minutes, or until crust is golden brown. Remove crostata from oven and let cool to room temperature before slicing.
8. To make mascarpone cream – in a stand mixer, add heavy cream and beat until frothy. Then, add the mascarpone, confectioners sugar and vanilla extract, beat until soft peaks. Place in a bowl to serve with Strawberry Rhubarb Crostata. Slice crostata and serve on plates with a dollop of cream. Enjoy!