Lia Townsend's Plum Crostata With Orange and Thyme

Welcome to Put on a Spread, a recipe series that takes you inside the kitchens – and dining rooms – of some of our favourite home cooks. For this instalment, grazing table enthusiast and founder of Stories to Gather, Lia Townsend, shares her recipe for a classic Italian plum crostata.

We know you love simple but flavoursome Italian recipes, so we just had to share one of the most classic desserts from the region that will be sure to please any crowd: the humble crostata.

Not a galette nor pie, the crostata is a rustic free-form tart, which is known for its beautiful crisp and buttery pastry. The base of this recipe by Lia Townsend is rooted in a recipe from Cook Beautiful by Athena Calderone, which "has been lovingly adapted over many iterations of making it through the seasons."

The centre is traditionally filled with jam and the key is to use fruits that are in season. "Play around with flavours and the balance between sweetness and brightness of citrus," Townsend notes. For example, while this recipe calls for juicy plums and zesty orange, you could always try a combination of sweet strawberries and lemon.

Whatever flavour profile you decide on, this is a dessert that's unrefined and simple, yet incredibly warm and inviting.

Ingredients

For the dough:

  • 200g plain flour
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • ¼ tsp salt flakes
  • 125g unsalted chilled butter, cut into cubes
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 60ml chilled water
  • 1 large egg, beaten for egg wash
  • Raw sugar, for sprinkling

For the filling:

  • 4-5 firm plums, deseeded and cut into wedges
  • 3 tbsp granulated sugar
  • ½ tsp fresh thyme leaves, plus more for finishing
  • 2 tsp orange zest
  • 1-2 tsp orange juice
  • 2 tsp plain flour

Method

To make the dough:

Place the flour, sugar and salt into a food processor, and pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

In a small bowl, combine the vinegar and chilled water. Slowly pour the vinegar-water into the food processor, pulsing just until the dough begins to hold together.

Transfer the dough to a clean work surface and pat together to shape the dough into a flattened disc shape. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour or up to two days.

To make the filling:

Preheat the oven to 180°C (fan-forced). In a small bowl, rub the sugar, thyme leaves and orange zest together with your fingers to release the herb and citrus oils.

Place the plum wedges into a medium mixing bowl and sprinkle the orange-thyme-sugar, orange juice and flour over the fruit. Toss it together to coat.

Roll out the dough between two sheets of non-stick baking paper until you have a circle that is between 5-10mm in thickness. Place the rolled-out dough onto a lined baking tray.

Arrange the plums in the centre of the dough leaving a 40mm border. Fold the edges of the dough up and around the filling. Brush the pastry edges with the beaten egg and sprinkle with raw sugar.

Bake in the oven for around 35-45 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown. Finish with a sprinkle of thyme leaves and serve as is or with double cream or ice cream. Enjoy! 

Shop Lia's look with our Terracotta Tablecloth and Pink Clay Napkins.

For more from Lia, follow her on Instagram @stories_to_gather.

Hungry for more? Explore more recipes from our favourite home cooks here.

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