… Crostata is perhaps the oldest Italian dessert. A popular tradition traces the origin of this Italian pie to the ancient Romans.
This is the first kind of baked dessert that, as little girl, I learned to make from my mother. It evokes memories of many happy hours spent with her in the kitchen preparing delicious food.
This Italian version of an American pie can be prepared by using different ingredients such as jam, fresh fruit, ricotta cheese, chocolate and pudding.
It can satisfy a wide variety of palates! In Italy, it is not only eaten as a dessert, but often for breakfast too, with a hot cup of espresso or capuccino, or with tea in the afternoon.
CROSTATA CON CONFETTURA DI FICHI E MANDORLE (FIG AND ALMOND JAM PIE)
300 g flour (245 g, 9 oz) Italian Grade 00 flour or pastry flour and 55 g (heaping ⅓ cup) potato starch or corn starch
5 g (1 teaspoon) baking powder
100 g (½ cup) granulated sugar
pinch of salt
130 g (5 oz) cold unsalted butter, cut in small cubes
1 egg and 1 egg yolk
Grated zest of half organic lemon
600 g (18 oz) fig jam
3 tablespoons almond, peeled and coarsely chopped
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350 °F)
2. To make crostata you first need to prepare the “pasta frolla”:
Mix flour, starch, baking powder, sugar, salt and the lemon zest a medium size bowl. Stir into butter and work with a pastry cutter, until you achieve a crumbly consistency. Then add eggs. Work dough with a pastry cutter. Knead dough by hand until it forms a homogeneous ball. Remember to manipulate dough as little as possible. Wrap it in plastic wrap and leave it to rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes
3. Once dough has rested, on a lightly floured board roll (or gently pat the pastry dough in the pan) ⅔ of pastry dough to 4 mm (a little less than ¼ inch) thickness, to line bottom and sides of 26 cm (about 10 inch) springform pan. The edge should have a slightly thicker layer of pastry than the bottom, about 6 mm (¼ inch). Prick pastry bottom with the tines of a fork (four or five times is sufficient), then spread with jam mixed with almonds on pasta frolla. Roll remaining pastry on a lightly floured board, then with a sharp knife or pastry cutter cut it in strips (5 mm, a little less than ¼ inch) wide and arrange in a lattice design over the jam. There might be some leftover pastry
4. Bake crostata until golden, about 35-40 minutes. Unmold the pie as soon as it is not warm and let it cool completely on a rack. If left in the pan it will turn irremediably soggy. It is great freshly baked but it definitely improves after a day if kept in a closed container.
Note: Usually crostata crust is quite hard. I prefer a tender, fluffy crust. My recipe calls for starch and baking powder (a leavening agent), all contribute to make the crust lighter. A note on the jam: select a jam that is relatively low in sugar, or prepare your own (see the recipe in the fig jam post). Jams that contain a higher percentage of sugar tend to be negatively affected by baking temperatures, turning sticky and ruining the final result. -Paola