Why haven’t I made this before??? Every time I’ve been to Italy, I’ve enjoyed a crostata filled with jam as part of a classic Italian breakfast. Crostata is served right alongside delicious meats, cheeses and a caffé latte in the morning.
On our last trip to Italy, we stayed at a stunning agriturismo in Marche, Tenuta San Marcello. Each morning, a lovely woman named Sylvia would make a different fresh jam crostata. As we enjoyed the crostata and other breakfast items from the area, Sylvia would patiently suffer through our bad Italian grammar as we peppered her with questions about Italy and the local area. We came to look forward each morning to see what Sylvia had baked that day, and she loved our effusive broken-Italian compliments! I kept asking myself why I hadn’t tried making crostada at home, so it was at the top of my to-do list upon our return.
The process of making this breakfast staple requires remembering just a few simple tips:
- It’s all about the jam, so buy jam (or marmalade – citrus-based, that includes both the flesh and peel) you would enjoy as part of a normal breakfast. You are going to bake it so there’s no need to break the bank with something too expensive.
- When you start to roll out the dough, move quickly! Once the butter starts to warm up, you can’t handle the dough. If this happens, return it to the fridge for another hour.
- Weigh the amounts as listed below. While Italian grandmothers can probably eyeball this, I’m not there yet and measuring by weight is the only way to go when baking or making pasta.
Ingredients and Directions:
- 8 ounces (by weight) all-purpose flour plus extra for rolling the lattice
- 4 ounces (by weight) white cane sugar
- ½ cup unsalted butter (1 stick) at room temperature
- 1 egg
- 1 egg yolk
- A pinch of salt
- A medium-sized jar of your favorite jam or marmalade
- A lemon (for zesting)
- Sliced almonds or other thinly sliced nuts
- Hand-held pastry blender or stand mixer with paddle attachment
- Wax paper
- Tart pan with a removable bottom (I used a 9-inch square pan)
- Rolling pin and wooden rolling surface
- Combine the flour, sugar, butter, eggs and salt in a bowl. Blend using a hand-held pastry blender or a stand mixer until dough is formed. Avoid over-mixing. Use your hands to gather up the dough into a ball.
- Place the ball between two large sheets of wax paper and flatten into a disk with the palm of your hand. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
- While the dough is chilling, place the jam in a small sauce pot with a splash of water to dilute it. Place over low heat to melt it. Add the zested lemon and stir.
- Preheat oven to 350-degrees F.
- Remove the dough in the wax paper from the fridge and place on a wooden board. Remove a golf ball sized piece of dough for the lattice and place back in the fridge.
- Quickly roll out the dough to slightly larger than the size of the tart pan (to a thickness slightly less than a ¼ -inch). Tear away dough and reshape the circle to the shape of tart pan. Peel away one sheet of the wax paper and invert the dough on the tart pan.
- Gently press the dough into place patching up any holes.
- Pour the prepared jam into the tart, filling it only halfway up.
- Sprinkle a little flour on the board. Remove the remaining dough from the fridge and tear of small pieces and roll them on the board into long strands to construct the lattice. Sprinkle the tart with sliced almonds.
- Place on the middle rack of the oven and bake for about 30 minutes until the crust is lightly browned.
- Remove to a cooling rack and cool completely. Remove the tart from the pan, slice and serve.
Note: The tart will store well in an airtight container at room temperature for several days.