First of all I have to admit something. For my first decade of living in Italy I didn’t even attempt to try a piece of crostata. To me it looked dry and tasteless. And it was full of jam. I used to despise any sort of dessert that involved jam. Then one day I found myself starving at a kid’s birthday party and the only thing being served was crostata. So I took a piece to relieve my hunger induced headache and I couldn’t believe how delicious it was. At first I thought it was probably due to the fact I hadn’t eaten all day and chopped liver would have tasted divine. But in the end I realised that crostata is delicious. Really delicious.
This past week I spent the morning with one of my closest Italian friends and she kindly taught me how to make the basic Italian Crostata. It’s surprisingly easy, only has 5 ingredients and it takes minutes to prepare. That’s my kind of recipe. There are the traditional jam filled crostata as well as the blind baked crostata pie shells which are filled with anything from pastry cream to Nutella to fresh fruits after being baked. The options are endless.
Italian Jam Crostata
1 whole egg (or 2 egg yolks for a richer crust)
125g butter, cubed
pinch of salt
jar of jam
1. Put flour in a large bowl and add the flour (it’s advised to make crostata by hand and not with a mixer to not over-work the dough).
2. Add the egg (or yolks), butter and salt to the flour mixture. With hands mix together gently. Pour onto floured work surface and gently knead into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
3. Roll out cooled dough and place into buttered pie pan with removable bottom (you can also line with buttered parchment paper). Do not worry if the rolled pastry breaks or crumbles, just press into pie plate to make sure there are no holes. Prick bottom with fork.
4. Spread jam all over bottom of pastry. Roll out the leftover pastry dough and cut out shapes to decorate the top or cut strips to make a lattice design.
5. Bake at 200 (400F) degrees for approximately 30 minutes.
Variations: you can add a teaspoon of baking powder if you prefer a softer crust. You can also substitute powdered sugar for the granulated sugar which also gives it a flakier consistency or brown sugar which gives it a more rustic crust. Some people also add a squeeze of lemon juice for a little added flavour. There are many many variations and I’m sure every Italian family has a traditional family recipe which involves special ingredients.