An Evening of Experiences



What a whirlwind month it has been! Did I mention we were on honeymoon? It was just wonderful to explore a new country together and I think it made it more special taking the break so long after we got married. Although, I must admit, I was pining for the honeymoon a month after we got married. Six months seems a very long time to wait and it was, but it was worth it.


We happened to do a lot of food based activities whilst on honeymoon - not just eating (although that is always a highlight) but we went on a food tour in one city and took a cookery class in another. I was blown away by both experiences. We didn't plan to do either of them, they just sort of happened upon us. When people ask what the highlight of the honeymoon was, for me it had to be the food tour.


It was nothing like I expected it to be at all. We were taken around the city by a lovely guide who showed us everything local that Innsbruck had to offer. From local farming producers to cheese to bread to coffee to traditional meals eat all over the Tirol region. It's an experience I will now look for anywhere I visit and it is so worth it.


It got me thinking a little bit about my business and the experience I offer. More often I plug my supper clubs by selling the food. Which of course is very important. You can't build a food business without good food. But it's not just the food that I want my customers to enjoy. It's the experience of sitting at a long, ambient table with people they wouldn't necessarily already know and really enveloping themselves in a sense of community, formed by the coming together over food.


So, here I have for you, the recipe for my rhubarb and berry crostata. It's a beautiful recipe and I absolutely love it. I know you will too. If you ever would like to come to one of my events, click here to see what I've got coming up. 


Rhubarb and Berry Crostata

For the pastry:

  • 200g cold butter

  • 200g caster sugar

  • 500g plain flour

  • 2 eggs

  • 1 tbsp ice cold water

For the filling:

  • 300g fresh rhubarb

  • 200g frozen red berries

  • 200g caster sugar

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

  • 1 tbsp fresh orange juice


In a bowl, rub the flour, butter and sugar together with your fingers until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs. Or, you can do this in a food processor by pulsing the ingredients together.


Add the eggs and use your fingers to mix everything together. Start bringing everything together in a pastry as you mix. If it's too dry, add the water a little at a time to get a soft but firm pastry. On a lightly floured surface, shape the dough into a 6X12cm rectangle and then wrap the pastry in cling film. Leave it in the fridge to rest for at least an hour.


Wash the rhubarb well. Cut it up into chunks and add it to a saucepan with all of the other ingredients. Start the pot on a medium heat and let everything melt down, stirring occasionally. When the pot gets quite liquidy (it's a word), simmer the compote for 15 minutes being careful it doesn't bubble over. Otherwise you will have a hot, painful, sugary mess.


Set the compote aside to cool and preheat your oven to 175 degrees C with a flat baking tray on the middle shelf. Grease a 9" pie tin of your choice.


Roll out your pastry when the hour is up to the thickness of a 50p coin. Fold it over the rolling pin to carry it into the pie tin. Cut any excess away from the top and then press the pastry firmly into the tin using a ball of excess pastry so you don't make any fingernail marks.


Spoon in some of the cooled filling - make sure the filling is cooled properly or it will start to melt the butter in the pastry. Fill until you are halfway up the pastry case. Gather the excess pastry and re-roll it to the same thickness as before.


Traditionally, crostata is baked with a lattice top. So cut the pastry into strips of a 1-2cm width (depending on your aesthetic preference) and place 4-5 strips on top of the pie in one direction.


Now, fold every other strip back on itself in half and place another strip on top of the pie perpendicular to the already placed strips so that it starts the "under-over" pattern of a lattice. Unfold the strips back into place and lift the alternate strips back over themselves up to the point where there is a perpendicular one in the way and place another strip on top. Continue in this manner until you have covered the pie to your liking.


Brush the top and any exposed pastry with egg wash and then place in the oven for an hour.


When the pie is ready to come out, place it on a wire rack to cool completely. It will sink and settle as it cools. Serve with ice cream or custard.

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