madonna del piatto

Italian family cooking


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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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