The winter days are long and the memories of warm summer afternoons seem so distant. Crostata di Marmellata is the ultimate dolce to prepare during the winter months to recall summers past. Freshly picked berries, cherries, peaches, and apricots are no longer available at the market, but flavorful jams reminiscent of the delights of summer certainly are. Some of my wonderfully talented friends shared their special jams of the season this year: olallieberry, strawberry and apricot. What better way to feature these jams than to make them the centerpiece of a lattice topped crostata. Don’t despair if you are not as fortunate as I in the friends who make jam department, there are many high quality jams on the market to choose from. Pick one to treat family, friends, and yourself to the sweet memories of summer.
Pasta frolla recipes are widespread and differ slightly yet all produce a rich and tender crust comparable to a cookie dough. The pastry is made with eggs and/or egg yolks, flour, butter and sugar and is generally prepared for fruit or jam tarts. My instructions, although simple may seem a bit tedious in the way I detail forming the dough. It is intentional – the pastry is fatto a mano or made by hand, because this will render the tenderest of crusts. This basic yet specific handling technique is to insure that the finished pastry remains delicate once baked. An indispensable and inexpensive kitchen tool, the bench scraper will make the preparation a breeze. Please don’t skip refrigerating the dough, as this allows a resting period which makes handling far easier.
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- 3 cups of high quality mixed berry jam
- 1 recipe for Pasta Frolla, shell partially baked as per recipe with the remaining dough prepared to form a lattice top
- ¼ cup of light colored jam such as apricot or peach, heated together with 3 Tbs. of water and cooled - optional
- Preheat the oven to 400º F.
- Spread the berry jam over the partially baked & fully cooled tart shell.
- Begin to make the lattice top using the strips that you had cut from the pastry dough reserved for the top of the crostata. Arrange the strips one at a time, beginning close to the edge of the shell and alternating the placement going in both directions. The piece of snake dough around the inside rim will serve as a support for the lattice. As you continue in this fashion, weave the pastry under and over consecutive strips of dough until the entire crostata has been covered with the pastry lattice.
- Place the crostata into the preheated oven and bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.
- Place on a cooling rack and immediately brush with the thinned named if desired. Allow to cool to room temperature, remove from the tart pan and serve later in the day.
- 1¾ cup all purpose flour
- ½ cup cake flour
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- ¾ tsp. salt
- 1 large egg
- 1 large egg yolk
- 12 Tbs. unsalted butter, cold and cut into ½ inch pieces
- 1 Tbs. butter to grease the pan
- Zest from 1 medium sized lemon or 1 small orange
- 1 tsp. of vanilla extract
- Combine the all purpose flour, cake flour, sugar, salt, and lemon or orange zest on a counter surface. Form into a mound and mix in the butter pieces. Once the butter pieces have been coated with the dry mixture, rub the butter with your fingers to form flake like pieces; use a bench scraper to help you turn the mixture. Form a mound from the mixture and make a well in the center of the mound. Combine the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla in a small bowl, mix lightly with a fork.
- Add the egg mixture to the well and combine swiftly using a fork and the bench scraper to assist you. The mixture will seem dry at this point. Begin to bring the dough together using you hands, knead briefly and it will become smooth. Divide the dough into two disc like pieces, one larger than the other. Wrap well in plastic wrap, and then put each wrapped disc into a plastic sandwich bag. Refrigerate overnight,
- Butter a 9" fluted tart pan with a removable bottom, being sure to get the butter into fluted areas of the pan.
- Remove the larger disc of pastry from the refrigerator and take about ¼ of the piece to set aside. Reform the original piece into a flat disc, lightly flour a piece of parchment, keep more flour on hand for rolling. Do not let the disc sit outside long once you have removed it from the refrigerator as it will become soft quickly and difficult to handle. Lie the disc on the floured parchment, using a rolling pin pound the pastry dough to flatten it a bit to make the rolling process easier. Dust the dough lightly with a little flour and begin to roll the dough from the center out to the edges, moving the dough as you continue so as not to allow it to stick to the parchment and to insure a uniformly flat circle of dough about 12" in diameter.
- Carefully fold the circle of dough in half and then into a quarter segment - be sure not to press hard on the folded dough. Transfer the dough, now in a quarter fold formation to the prepared tart pan, placing it as though the quarter fits into one forth of the tin with the point positioned in the center of the pan. Gently unfold the pastry, positioning the dough against the edges of the tin with your fingers and bringing it up the sides of the tart pan. There will be some extra dough, which should be trimmed with a pairing knife and reserved. If there are any holes in the dough you can patch them with the extra dough.
- Take the dough that you initially reserved and roll into a rope about ½ inch thick, long enough to circle the inside of the tart pan. Position the pastry rope along the edge of the pan against the dough sides until you have completely encircled the pastry shell. Cover the pastry lined tin with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
- In the mean time, prepare the other disc of dough for the top of the crostata.
- Follow the instructions for rolling out the bottom layer as you did for the top layer, rolling it to approximately a 10 inch circle. If you are preparing a double crusted crostata, keep the disc in one piece. If you are preparing a lattice top using a ruler and sharp knife cut lengths of about 1" in width across the pastry. Cover and refrigerate the pastry, placing it on a baking sheet until you are ready to continue.
- Preheat the oven to 350º.
- Line the rested and refrigerated crostata bottom with aluminum foil and fill the foil lining with about 1 pound of beans or rice. Place in the preheated oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Carefully remove the foil with beans from the shell, taking care not to tug at the pastry. The pastry should be set and beginning to dry around the rim. If the pastry seems to have risen in the center, gently push down the with back of a dinner spoon. Allow the shell to bake for 5 to 10 additional minutes until the center of the crostata is dry. Remove from the oven, set on a rack and cool completely.
- The pastry is now ready to be used with a recipe of your choice.