Italian homemade food, for me, includes many amazing dishes, but one of the first images that comes to my mind is a jam crostata with its signature chessboard look! The smell, the taste and the consistency of this baked beauty take me back to my country where flour and eggs are the royal ingredients and make up most of our extraordinary dishes. I love making the pasta frolla with that incredible aroma of lemon or orange zest. The crostata can be a dessert after dinner, or it can be a pleasurable coccola during breakfast, or a life softner in the afternoon next to an espresso. It is so delicate and “sweet” that you will fall in love with the crunchy texture of the pasta frolla and the freshness of the straberry jam (our favorite!). There is a lot of room to make this dish your own: for la pasta frolla, you could choose the zest of any of the agrumi such as organge, mandarin and lemon, depending of what you found at the market and what has the freshnest look; for il ripieno, you can try a different jam or a combination of them everytime you make a crostata!
For la pasta frolla (shortcrust pastry)
- 250g Farina 00 (or “all purpose”)
- 150g butter
- 50g cane sugar
- 5 egg yolks
- 1g salt
- 1/2 lemon (zest)
For il ripieno
- 250g straberry jam
- 1/2 lemon (zest)
Let’s begin with la pasta frolla:
1. In a bowl, add the sugar and butter and start mixing at a medium speed either using an electric whisk or a stand mixer until you see a nice homegeneous mixture.
2. Divide the egg yolks in a separate bowl and add the salt. Let the salt incorporate in the yolks. Then, transfer the yolks into the bowl together with the butter and sugar mixture. At lower/medium speed, mix everything until you get a nice yellowish cream.
3. Grate the lemon zest into the bowl and continue mixing (use more than half of the lemon, while the rest will be used to aromatize the jam).
3. Now, sift the flour twice using a regular strainer. Stop the mixer and add it to the bowl. You will end up with a more compact mixture.
4. DO NOT OVERWORK THE DOUGH. With the help of some extra flour, get the dough out from the bowl and transfer it on lighty flourly surface. Make a panetto (see photo) and wrap it in plastic wrap. Put in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
Let’s assemble our crostata:
5. Take your pasta frolla dough out of the fridge. Let it get to room temperature so it will be easier to work on it and transfer it to a spianatoia (pastry board). With the help of a pasta roller and the addition of some flour on the dough as well as on the spianatoia, start rolling the dough using a rolling pin until you get a thickness of about 3.5mm.
6. Take your baking trade (I use a round pan of 20cm of diameter = 8inch). Place the trade upside down on the dough, and adding a little bit of strenght, push down so to trace the base you need for the specific trade you are using.
7. Gently lift the circular shortcrust pastry base you made and place it in the lightly butterly round pan. With the help of a knife, eliminate the extra dough that does not sit on the base of the pan and, then, with a fork, make holes across the whole base (to help the shortcrust pastry breathing during baking!)
8. Now grate the rest of the lemon zest into the straberry jam, mix it, and add it on the crostata base. Evenly spread it across the pastry leaving out about a border of 1cm around the base.
9. It is time to make the little strips with the remaining dough. Place the strips on the tart first in one direction and then in the other. You can create any design you want at this moment!
10. With the rest of the dough, make the edges of the crostata. You can gently take the leftover, compact it, and roll it with the help of your fingers unitl you get a nice long and about 2cm thick stick. Place the stick around the edges of the tart. Finally, press down on the egdes all across using, again, your fingers and your crostata is finally ready to be baked!
11. Preheat the oven to 330F (160C), and let the crostata bake for 45 minutes (in the middle of the oven). You will start seeing the shortcrust pastry getting browner and the smell more and more delicious! Get the crostata out of the oven, let it cool down and cover it with a kitchen towel. As It cools down, it becomes nice and crunchy. And now… Time to eat!!