This big, dramatic, open-face fruit tart looks like it just came off the set of an Italian country magazine shoot. Better yet, it’s nearly no work. Bake the crust ahead when summer temperatures are cool. Whenever you feel like serving the dessert, slather it with the ricotta-mascarpone cream (done ahead as well) and top it with the fruit and herbs. Any single fruit or combo works, but ripe melons and stone fruits with berries are a favorite.
Cook to Cook: A great trick to save time is to assemble the dry ingredients and the butter (cut into 1-inch chunks) for the pastry ahead of time and store it in the freezer. Write a note on the bag, “add 1 beaten egg and 2 to 3 tablespoons of water.” When ready to assemble, the frozen blend goes right into the food processor. The extra chill is a little insurance against the butter melting and possibly giving you a tough crust.
You could bake the crust up to 3 days ahead, and blend the ricotta filling up to 2 days in advance. Assemble the pizza just before serving. Serve the pizza with a pitcher of Hibiscus Cooler.
1-1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour (measured by dipping the measuring cup into the flour, scooping up and leveling)
Generous 1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 stick plus 2 tablespoons (5 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1 large egg, beaten 2 to 3 tablespoons ice water, or as needed
1-3/4 cups (15-ounce container) high-quality whole-milk ricotta
1 cup mascarpone cheese
Grated zest of 1/2 lemon
1/2 vanilla bean, split open, seeds scraped away with tip of sharp knife and reserved, or 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/3 cup sugar, or to taste
Fruit and Herbs:
1/2 medium-size ripe cantaloupe, honeydew, casaba, or a mix of melons, cut into 3/4- to 1-inch pieces
2 plums or 1 nectarine, cut into wedges
1 to 1-1/2 cups berries (blueberries, raspberries, cherries, or blackberries)
10 to 12 fresh basil leaves
Leaves from a 4- to 5-inch branch of fresh rosemary
Shredded zest of 1/2 a medium orange
A few grinds of black pepper
Pinch of salt
1/3 to 1/2 cup sugar, or to taste
1. To make the pastry, combine the dry ingredients in a food processor or large bowl. Cut in the butter with rapid pulses in the processor, or rub between your fingertips, until the butter is the size of peas. Add the egg and 2 tablespoons of water. Pulse just until the dough gathers in clumps, or toss with a fork until evenly moistened. If the dough seems dry, blend in another 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon water. Gently gather the dough into a ball.
2. Oil a 14- to 16-inch pizza pan. Roll out the dough on a floured surface to an extremely thin 17-inch round. Place on the pan. Trim away all but 2 inches of overhanging crust. Fold it over along the edge of the pan so you have a 1-inch wide border around the edge of the pizza pan. Refrigerate 30 minutes to overnight.
3. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line the dough with foil and weight it with raw rice or beans. Bake 10 minutes. Carefully remove the lining, prick the crust with a fork to keep it from bubbling, and continue baking another 8 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown. Cool and keep at room temperature up to 3 days.
4. To make the ricotta-mascarpone cream, put all the ingredients in a food processor and purée. Taste for sweetness and add more sugar if desired. Refrigerate until needed. Just before serving, spread the cream generously over the crust.
5. Finish the pizza by dotting the cream with the fruit. You don’t want it jammed with fruit; there should be gaps where there’s only the filling. Gently tear the basil leaves and lightly rub the rosemary as you scatter them over the fruit. Sprinkle the orange zest, pepper and salt over everything, along with the sugar, and serve up the pizza.
From A Summertime Grilling Guide by Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift. Copyright © 2012 by American Public Media.
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