Ah, Aaron’s birthday. It’s that one day a year, when I can look into my dear, sweet husband’s eyes and say, “You’re officially older than I am again. HA!”
And in turn, eight months from now, he’ll enjoy looking at his dear, sweet wife, and saying, “HA! You’re old like me!”
For Aaron’s birthday this year, I decided to throw the birthday cake idea out the window and make something more his speed. I’m a cake kind of person. I love chocolate, rich, cakey kind of desserts. Aaron? He’d much prefer a pie. Ultimately, he loves a good berry pie, so I knew that he’d probably really enjoy this free form raspberry and rhubarb crostata recipe that I’d been eyeing for a while.
All in all, it was really easy to throw together. In fact, I was able to start some of it the day before.
The day before Aaron’s birthday, I made the crust. It was a simple “throw everything in the food processor” kind of recipe. The crust ingredients all went into the processor for a twirl, were then pressed into a disk, wrapped in plastic wrap, and then chilled until I was ready to assemble the dessert the next day. It was so completely simple, quick, and easy, that I forgot to take a picture of any of it.
Then, on the big day, I chopped up my fresh stalks of rhubarb.
Rhubarb almost looks like red celery. It’s very tart if eaten raw, but is commonly cooked down with sugar and fruit and used in delicious, springtime desserts…like this one. Cooked down, it offers a sweet tang, and pairs perfectly with berries.
I cooked down the rhubarb, along with some fresh raspberries, and sugar in a saucepan, until the sugar had melted and the berries and rhubarb started getting juicy.
Once the sugar had melted and everything was nice and juicy, I stirred in a mixture of cornstarch and water. I brought the mixture to a boil, and then removed it from the heat, poured it into a bowl, and put it in the fridge to cool down for a bit.
Once the berry mixture was cool, I got my dough out from the fridge and rolled it out into a 12-inch circle. Then, I dumped the raspberry lot right in the middle.
I spread the mixture out a bit, but left enough room at the edges so that I could fold the edges of the dough over the filling, by about an inch and a half.
I brushed the edge of the crust with a beaten egg, and sprinkled it with raw sugar.
Then, it spent about forty minutes in the oven, where it baked up to birthday perfection.
For some reason, during the baking time, a bit of the butter leached out of the crust and pooled on the baking sheet. I’m not quite sure why this happened, but I sopped it up with a paper towel before it burnt, and let the crostata finish baking. I still tasted beautifully buttery, so I’m not sure what was going on!
That night, after he’d opened his presents and we’d had a nice family dinner, we finished celebrating with big slices of this sweet and tangy crostata and some vanilla ice cream. I’m not a pie person, and I thought it was pretty darn tasty. I’d had strawberries and rhubarb before, but never raspberries. I almost think I enjoyed the raspberries more! And the buttery, sugar-crunchy crust might have been my very favorite part.
RHUBARB AND RASPBERRY CROSTATA
Adapted from Epicurious
- For the Crust:
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cubed
- 1 large egg
- 1 tablespoon milk
- For the Filling:
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 4 cups 1/2-inch-thick slices rhubarb
- 1 (6 ounce) container fresh raspberries
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 large egg, beaten
- Raw sugar
- Sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream (for serving)
- Combine flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor; blend for 5 seconds. Add the butter, and pulse until butter is reduced to pea-size pieces. Whisk egg and milk in a small bowl to blend; add to processor and pulse until moist clumps form. Gather dough into a ball and flatten into a disk. Wrap the disk in plastic wrap; chill at least 1 1/2 hours. Can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled.
- Dissolve the cornstarch in 3 tablespoons of water in a small bowl; set aside.
- Combine the sliced rhubarb, raspberries, and sugar in a large heavy saucepan.
- Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the sugar dissolves and the juices are released, about 3-4 minutes. Stir in the cornstarch mixture and bring the berries to a boil (rhubarb will not be tender and slices will still be intact). Transfer the mixture to a bowl. Chill until the berry mixture is cool, about 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 400*F. Roll out the dough on floured parchment paper to a 12-inch round.
- Brush the crust with beaten egg. Mound the cooled filling in the center of crust; gently spread out, leaving 1 1/2″ border. Gently fold edges of dough over filling, pleating as needed.
- Brush the border with egg, and sprinkle with the raw sugar. Slide the parchment with crostata onto a large rimmed baking sheet and bake until crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbly, about 45 minutes.
- Let the crostata cool completely on baking sheet on a rack.
- Serve with vanilla ice cream or sweetened whipped cream.