Recipe: Crostata (Rustic Italian Jam Tart)

It’s been a long time between posts, and that’s because this foodie has been eating her way around Europe! Having just returned from a wonderful month travelling Italy, France, Belgium, Holland and England, I’m back in Noosa with renewed culinary inspiration. There were several highlights to my trip – one was dining at Heston Blumenthal’s restaurant The Fat Duck, an incredible experience, and the other was travelling around rural Italy. I concentrated on a fairly small area, which included the regions of Liguria, Tuscany, Umbria and Marche.  On my gourmet escapades, one of the things that was very apparent is the diversity of foods in each region. For example Liguria was abundant with seafood and is where the famous pesto sauce originates, whereas Tuscany cuisine was more meat-based, with game being readily available.

Pesto making

Pesto Making in Liguria

While in Marche, I spent three days in an Agriturismo (farm stay) called La Tavola Marche, which boasts an amazing cooking school. Always keen to expand my culinary education I took a private cooking lesson with my partner where we learned about the produce of the region as well as a wonderful repertoire of local dishes. One of the things I loved about the class was that the ingredients were all locally sourced (including the hand-ground flour), many of which were grown or produced on the premises.  As in much of rural Italy, they really do live and breathe the Slow Food philosophy, a subject very close to my heart.

Farm Stay in Marche

Ashley our host rounding up the chooks!

Included in the dishes I learnt to prepare at my cooking class was this Crostata, a rustic  jam filled pastry crust which is found the table of almost every nonna ready to serve to visitors and is perfect with your morning coffee. The recipe of this classic dessert varies across the country and during the class we used homemade jams made from local fruits. This is my version made with my homemade Cumquat Marmalade made from local cumquats. Enjoy.

Crostata

Crostata

Ingredients:
150g butter, softened
2/3 cup caster sugar
1 large egg + 1 large yolk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2¼ cups of flour
¼ teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
1 cup of your favourite jam or marmalade

Equipment:
Electric Mixer
24cm tart pan

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 180°C.
2. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and vanilla.
3. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
4. Incorporate the dry ingredients into the butter and egg mixture with a few strokes of a wooden spoon forming a dough.  If the dough is sticky add a little more flour.
5. Reserve some of the dough for the lattice work, and roll the rest between 2 sheets of baking paper to the size of the tart pan.
6 Place in the tart pan, remove the top piece of baking paper and pinch the edges.
7. Spread the jam or marmalade over the top.
8. Make the lattice by rolling small pieces of dough into a long snake. This is an easy dough to work with – if it breaks just pinch it back together. Moist hands will help if the dough is sticky. Continue until you have enough to make your lattice top. Place the lattice over the top of the tart in a criss-cross fashion.
9. Bake in the preheated oven for about 40 minutes or until the top is nice and brown, the bottom is cooked and the dough should shrink away from the pan a bit.
10. Cool, then cut into slices and serve.

 

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