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blueberry cherry crostata

I love pie. I've loved it since I was a child. My husband always teases me when I tell him I would choose a fruit pie over chocolate any day. Strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, cherries, blueberries...I adore them all.

This time of year, when the grocery stores are full of ripe produce and the farm stands are starting to pop up everywhere, is my favorite time for fresh fruit. The baking possibilities are endless - pies, crisps, crumbles, crostatas. For years I've been making this free-form crostata - a much more rustic (and much simpler) version of a pie. I have a few friends who've said they're scared to make pie dough because it looks so difficult, but I promise: you cannot screw this up. This dough is extremely forgiving; mix it up, stash it in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes (or do what I did and stick it in the freezer for just 10 minutes while the oven preheats), roll it on a well floured surface, fill it with fruit, fold up the edges any way you want, brush with cream, sprinkle with sugar, and put it in the oven. Done.

The thing is - you could start making this dough and be eating warm pie in under two hours, which makes this the ideal dessert for a last-minute cookout. You can use any fruit you happen to have on hand - berries, a combination of blueberries and cherries as I did here, even apples or pears. My mouth is watering just thinking about the heaps of peaches and apricots and plums still to come. Oh, summer.

Blueberry Cherry Crostata
Yields: 6 to 8 wedges

For the dough:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
1/8 tsp coarse kosher salt
2 tsp granulated white sugar
7 tbsp chilled unsalted butter, diced
3 tbsp ice water

In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment, mix together the flour, salt, and sugar on low speed until combined. Add the butter and mix on medium speed until the butter is the size of peas. Add the ice water and pulse everything together until the dough just comes together into a ball. Place the mixture on a sheet of plastic wrap; wrap it well and use your hands to push and pat the dough into a firm disc. Chill for a bit while you make the filling (see above for tips).

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a large rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper. Set aside.

For the filling:
2 1/2 cups fresh blueberries, rinsed and picked through for stems
About 1 cup of fresh cherries, rinsed, pitted, and cut into quarters
3 tbsp orange juice
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tbsp light brown sugar
1 tsp corn starch
2 tbsp all-purpose unbleached flour
A pinch of coarse kosher salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

In a large bowl, mix all of the ingredients together until well combined and the berries have started to release their juices. Set aside.

Roll out the pie dough to roughly a 10-inch circle. It's okay if the dough cracks; gently pinch it back together. Transfer the dough to the parchment-lined baking sheet. Pour the fruit mixture into the middle of the dough circle. Fold up the edges all the way around, leaving the fruit in the middle exposed. Don't worry if some of the juice leaks out of the edges; as it bakes it forms a delicious goo that you get to spoon up later (quality control).

Use a pastry brush to brush the dough with whipping cream. Generously sprinkle on some granulated sugar all over the cream and on top of the fruit showing in the middle of the crostata.

Bake 45 to 50 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time, until the crust is golden brown and the fruit is bubbling and oozing out of the crust.

After the pie has cooled enough to cut into wedges, serve warm with a scoop of this No-Churn Vanilla Bean Sour Cream Cheesecake Ice Cream.