For a fair amount of time my Italian teacher Fede had been asking me to make her a crostata, using the same shortcrust pastry that I use for my mince pies. Then a couple of weeks ago she handed me a gorgeous jar of blueberry jam for the filling, prompting me to get to work in the kitchen (a sign of patience wearing thin perhaps after months of promises and no delivery!).
I’d never made a crostata before, although the concept was simple – pastry filled with jam, caged in with pastry in a lattice design on top. I could totally do that.
After a bit of research I found that traditionally, crostate are made with pasta frolla – a pastry similar to shortbread and made with eggs. However, Fede had asked for it to be made with my shortcrust pastry, as her mother doesn’t make her crostate with pasta frolla. I had some serious expectations to live up to!
Although this crostata is super simple, I feel that I can safely say it is the ultimate treat to have at any time of day. For breakfast, with afternoon tea, or after a family meal. Pure perfection in tart form!
Ingredients: For one, 9″ tart pan.
For the shortcrust pastry:
- 250g all-purpose flour
- 125g good quality, unsalted butter, very cold or frozen (I use Lescure)
- 25g icing sugar
- Iced water
- 10ml milk (for brushing)
- Caster sugar (for sprinkling)
For the filling:
- 200g blueberry jam, or whichever jam you like
- Around 5 tablespoons of water
To make the pastry, pulse together the flour, sugar and butter until the dough begins to come together as breadcrumbs. Add enough cold water to bind the dough by adding a couple of tablespoons at a time and pulsing between each addition. Tip out onto a floured surface, quickly bring the dough together in a ball, and then cover and refrigerate for half an hour.
Preheat the oven to 190°c.
After you’ve let the pastry chill, on a floured surface roll out the dough to the thickness of a £1 coin. Roll the dough up and around a floured rolling pin, and slowly drape it over your tart pan. Run the rolling pin over the sides of the tart pan to remove the excess pastry. Gather the leftover pastry and roll it out again to the same thickness as before. Using a fluted pastry cutter, cut out strips around 2cm in width and long enough to fit your pan. Set these aside until your filling is ready.
To make the filling simply add the jam and the water to a saucepan, and warm on a medium heat until the consistency has loosened.
Pour the jam filling into your tart, then cover with your strips of pastry to make the lattice top. I did 6 pastry strips in each direction (12 in total). Remove any excess pastry hanging off the edges.
Chill the tart in the fridge for 10 minutes.
Brush with milk, sprinkle with sugar, and then bake in the oven for 25 minutes or until golden. You won’t want to cook the tart for too long as the jam can become really hard and sticky! Not great for dentures.