madonna del piatto

Italian family cooking


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springtime berry tiramisu

sweet and fresh just like spring, berry tiramisu

sweet and fresh just like spring, berry tiramisu

Life is sweet in Umbria right now. Spring is here in all its over-the-top beauty. There are flowers everywhere, I can practically see the plants growing. In fact, it feels almost like summer, warm, bright and full of promise.

We are busy at the moment. Planning an Olive Harvest celebration for next autumn. Planting rosemary bushes outside the new vacation rental which is almost ready (more news soon).

Our B&B guests have returned to populate our house with laughter and stories. They often spend long evenings on the terrace around glasses of wine, gazing at the views until the stars start twinkling.

Poppies have made their arrivals and so have the strawberries. I want to be like Google, taking naps in the sun, but I must run, there’s so much to do!

Recipe

  • approx 30 Italian lady fingers
  • brown sugar for dusting
  • a pan or plate that can hold the cookies in two layers

for the mascarpone custard

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 6 tablespoon /75 gr. sugar
  • 375 gr / 10 oz  mascarpone
  • 1 and 1/2 cup/ 375 gr. chilled heavy cream (whipping cream)

for the berries

  • 1 cup dry Marsala or other sweet wine
  • 600-700 gr (24 oz) mixed berries of your choice. Fresh is best, but a couple of bags of good quality frozen berries are a life saver if one is short of time or it’s not the right time of the season.

Berries:

Prepare the berries up to 1 day before you need them. Place them in a glass or porcelain bowl, add 3-4 tablespoon sugar and 1 cup sweet wine. Let it macerate  a minimum of two hours so they release their lovely violet juice which you will need to soak the cookies (see below).

Make the tiramisu at least 4 hours before serving and up to one day ahead. I make  tiramisu with a zabaglione  instead of raw eggs, so it’s safe to keep it refrigerated for a little longer if needed.

Custard:

Cream egg yolks and sugar in a metal bowl then set it over a saucepan of barely simmering water. Keep beating using a whisk or an electric mixer until very warm to the touch but not quite boiling. Ideally the mixture should reach 70° C/ 160 °F.  Add 1 tablespoon Marsala and whisk thoroughly for another minute or so. Remove bowl from heat, place it in an ice bath and let it cool. Add the mascarpone and whisk until smooth.

Whip the cream in a separate bowl until it holds stiff peaks. Fold it gently into the mascarpone mixture.

Assemble tiramisu:

Line the bottom of a  pan or serving dish with half of the ladyfingers in a single layer, making compact rows. Spread 1/2 of the berries on top with about half of their juices. Make sure to drizzle the juice evenly over the cookies so they will be soft but not soggy. Cover with  1/2 of  the mascarpone custard. Repeat with one additional layer of cookies, berries, juice and mascarpone custard.

Cover the pan with clingfilm and chill for at least two hours and up to 1 day.  Dust with brown sugar before serving.

Serves 12

you can make it with strawberry or raspberry but I prefer a mixture of berries

you can make it with strawberry, raspberry, blueberry or a mixture of what’s in season


24 Comments

crostata

crostata

crostata with homemade figs jam

CROSTATA, a pastry tart filled with jam, custard or ricotta is is found in all bakeries here in Umbria and prepared frequently at home. The home version is definitely better than the bought one. The secret is a high proportion of real butter in the dough – not margarine! – and homemade jam.

Umbrians love their crostata, their mums always make the best. Sometimes they might even acknowledge that their wife makes a decent one. Any garden party will display at least 4 or 5 of these tarts. The competition among the local ladies is ruthless. Opinions are vigorously split among those who prefer more crust and just a dab of jam, those who want hardly any crust and only eat the jam,  and everything in between.  My recipe has a thin crunchy base and a thin layer of jam. With this version I have won a few followers. I guess it’s a good sign.

Recipe

For pastry dough:

  • 125 gr cold unsalted butter (1 stick)
  • 250 gr 00 flour or pastry flour (1 and 2/3 cup) not self-rising
  • 125 gr (1/2 cup) sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 whole large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For Filling:

  • 1 1/2 cups fruit preserves

To make the pastry dough, cut the butter into 6-8 cubes and place in the bowl of a food processor together with the flour, sugar, vanilla extract and  salt. Using the blade at high speed, blend until most of the mixture resembles coarse meal, about 2 minutes. Stir in the egg and blend until the mixture forms a dough, one more minute. It is important not to overheat the butter in the dough, so do not overwork.

Roll the dough into a 1/2 cm (1/4 inch) thin disk and transfer into a 10 inch ( 25 cm) buttered tart pan so to make a case with shallow side. Spread a 1 cm (1/2 inch) layer of preserves over the pastry case. If you do not have homemade jam, make sure to find fine quality jam, with a high content of fruit.

With lightly floured hands roll the rest of dough into several 1 cm (1/2 inch) thick ropes.  Carefully arrange the dough ropes over the tart in an open lattice pattern. It is not necessary to weave the lattice. Transfer in the refrigerator for at least 1/2 an hour and up to half a day. Up to this point the crostata can be frozen. Before using, defrost overnight in the refrigerator and bake.

Preheat oven to 180° C/ 350° F. Bake the crostata in middle of the oven 45 minutes, or until the lattice is golden. Cool the crostata in the pan on a rack.

Serves 8

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