I don’t know about you guys, but I spent the last two weeks of my life absolutely swooning over the #CStuscany trip. The sweeping views of golden hillsides, the al fresco dinners with flowing wine, those incredibly lavish villas — my vacation envy was in full force and I couldn’t help but find myself daydreaming of an Italian getaway of my own, on more than one occasion.
But when you’re a baker with no European vacation in sight, all of that daydreaming (and Instagram story viewing) of international feasting can only mean one thing — inspiration of the buttery, sugary variety.
One of my favorite things about Italian cuisine is its simplicity. The spotlight on fresh, flavorful ingredients, combined with simple techniques and a focus on la dolce vida is a food philosophy I can not only 100% get behind, but one I try to replicate in my own kitchen style. Today’s recipe embodies those values in the form of a effortless, delicious crostata.
Known as Crostata di Marmellata to nonnas all over Italy, this staple of the Italian kitchen is a simple shortcrust pastry, filled with jam and baked to a golden brown.
While I don’t have a yard filled with apricot and fig trees, overflowing with ripe fruit, prime for jam-making, I do happen to be engaged to an Italian-American who goes gaga for anything lemon or fig flavored, so I know a thing or two about flavoring an Italian-inspired dessert. And since our local Texas fig trees are currently brimming with fruit, I chose to make a fig-filled version with lemon-scented crust.
Unlike a pie which utilizes fresh fruit — an absolute dream when done right, no doubt — a crostata is filled with jam, so there is no guessing for “doneness,” no fear of watery filling or soggy-bottomed crust. This no-fuss preparation is an A++ in my opinion, and once you get a taste, I have no doubt you’ll agree.
Top with lemon-infused whipped cream or toasted almonds for an extra special touch, and enjoy!
For the crust:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- pinch of salt
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- 1 large egg plus 1 yolk, beaten (save the white for brushing on top of the pastry)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon zest
- turbinado sugar, for sprinkling
For the filling:
- 1 1/2 - 2 cups fig jam
- fresh figs, for garnish
- To make the pastry crust, combine the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to combine.
- Sprinkle the butter over the top of the mixture and pulse until the mixture is crumbly and there are no large chunks of butter. Add the egg, egg yolk and lemon zest, and pulse until a dough forms.
- Pour out onto a sheet of plastic wrap. Knead into ball, wrap tightly, and refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour.
- After the dough has rested, preheat the oven to 350F. Divide the dough into two pieces, one larger than the other (the larger piece should be about 2/3 of the dough).
- Roll the dough out on a well-floured surface to about 1/8-inch thick, or large enough to cover a 9-inch tart dish. Press the dough into the dish and place in the freezer for 15 minutes to chill.
- Once chilled, fill the pie with jam and spread in an even layer. Roll the remaining dough to 1/8-inch thick and cut into 1/2-inch strips. Form a lattice design on the top of the crostata.
- Brush the top of the pastry with left over egg white and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.
- Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until golden brown and the jam is bubbling. Let cool completely before serving.
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