Crostata alla Marmellata, a tart with jam or marmalade, is the quintessential Italian sweet: simple ingredients, unsophisticated look and a cheerful taste so satisfying to make it the dessert of choice in many occasions.
There are many variations of the basic recipe for crostata and the crust can be also baked empty and then filled with different ingredients, like Nutella or ricotta cheese, or†custard cream and fresh fruit - a favorite one in Italy. However, no matter what filling is used, †the traditional crostata dough is always made of pasta frolla, the Italian short pastry, and no leavening agent is required.
For the crostata with jam recipe, any type of jam or soft marmalade can be used, but keep in mind that the sugar contained in it will become concentrated while baking and if you use a particularly sweet jam, like strawberry, cherry or peach, it is better to mix it with a little lemon juice. For the same reason, if the jam is already too thick, the oven will reduce it even more, making it too gooey and spoiling the final result. Add a little water to the jam and thin it out, enough to make it slightly runny.
Finally, do not bake the crostata for too long; about 20 minutes at 350 F/175 C will be plenty of time, or you might end up with a very tough and sticky tart that no one can enjoy.
Ingredients and Instructions:
- 1 2/3 cups/200 grams of all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup/100 grams of sugar
- 2/3 cup/150 grams of unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 egg and 1 yolk
- 1 teaspoon of grated lemon or orange zest
- 1 pinch of salt
- 2 cups of fruit jam or soft marmalade
- 1 teaspoon of lemon juice
Note: To make good pasta frolla dough, the handling of the ingredients must not take much time; just enough to combine them together, so that the butter doesn't melt and the dough remains light and tender. For this purpose, using the pulse button of a food processor would be the best and easiest way to go.
- Mix together the flour with the eggs, the salt, the grated lemon zest and the sugar.
- Add the butter and work it in evenly, until the dough comes together.
- If the dough is too firm, add just a little iced water or milk to soften it; however, Italian pastafrolla should not be elastic nor have air in it.
- Form a ball with the dough, wrap it in a cloth or plastic and let it rest in the fridge for at least one hour, better if overnight.
- After the dough has rested for at least one hour, preheat the oven at 350 F/175 C and use some butter to grease the bottom and the sides of a round baking dish, about 12 inches/30 cm wide.
- Roll the dough with a pin until a circle is obtained, about 1/4 inch/1 cm thick, and wide enough to cover the bottom of the dish and run over the edges. Donít work the dough for too long in this process, or it might firm up too much and crumble while baking.
- After laying the dough in the baking dish, cut the edges off and set aside for later to make the strips on the top of the crostata; wrap them so they donít dry.
- Depending on the type of jam you are using, if already very sweet (strawberry, cherry, peach, etc.) mix it up with the lemon juice and/or with a little water if too thick, so to avoid it to become too gooey while baking.
- Spread the jam evenly over the dough and then roll the edge leftovers and make some strips, about 1/2 inch/1.5 cm wide, to lay on top of the jam for decoration. You may place them in the traditional lattice pattern, or create your personal new look for the crostata, cutting the leftover dough in different shapes.
- Bake for about 20-25 minutes, until the dough starts turning brown. Remove from the oven and let cool, away from the stove top to prevent the crostata from becoming too dry.
Cinzia Aversa, 2013