Sunday, May 3, 2015

Jam Crostata

Sometimes you need an elegant, but sturdy dessert. Usually those two words wouldn't go together, and yet that's what I was looking for. Something a little more special than cookies, but not as fussy as a cake, and certainly not requiring decorating. A dessert that wouldn't fall apart if looked at cross-eyed. For a few years, I had been making a jam crostata that was delicious and everyone loved, but like most of my cooking today it needed streamlining- two rests in the fridge and rolling and measuring and cutting of the pastry is just NOT in my timetable these days. So, I had some rules going in working on this recipe. It had to come together in the amount of time it took to preheat the oven. It required no rest in the fridge, no rolling out or cutting out of the pastry, and above all- it had to look beautiful and not be fragile. Yes, it requires a piece of equipment you may not have, but a false bottom tart pan is a wonderful addition to your kitchen and won't put you out more than about 10 bucks.

This tart is easy to put together (you can even feed a toddler dinner while you bring it together...seriously, I've done it!). Sturdy enough to eat out of hand, but also with a fork on a lovely plate. Sturdy enough to transport. And yet, with minimal effort, elegant and special, fancy but not fussy. And since it uses jam, you can make this anytime of year.

You do have some decisions to make around flavors. Raspberry pistachio is what I have pictured here, because I have lots of raspberry jam, and we can't get enough of pistachios. My favorite combination though is apricot pistachio. But try strawberry hazelnut, or blueberry walnut, or peach almond. To thin out the jam a little, use what fits for your flavor profile- a complementary liqueur, lemon or lime or orange juice, or even water if you don't have something that will fit. In the pastry, known in Italian as a Pasta Frolla, add extract and/or citrus zest to also fit your flavor profile. Although at the bare minimum and regardless of other flavors, be sure to add the vanilla extract. And if only adding vanilla, then double the amount. Although special extracts or liqueur will amp up the flavors in this- if you start with good butter and good jam, you'll be all set.


  • 1 cup + 2 TBS flour (5.75 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup sugar (1.75 ounces sugar)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 6 TBS unsalted butter, cold, cut into 6 chunks
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp almond or other extract (optional)
  • 1 tsp citrus zest (optional)
  • 1 cup jam
  • 1 TBS liqueur, citrus juice or water (i.e. Amaretto, Frangelico, lemon juice)
  • 1/2 cup nuts, roughly 

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • In food processor, buzz flour, sugar, baking powder and salt to together with a couple pulses.
  • Add butter pieces, and buzz, using 9 or 10 pulses, until crumbly
  • In a small liquid measuring cup, beat together egg, extract(s) and zests.
  • With motor running, pour liquid into food processor, until incorporated, but do not let it become a ball. Do not over-process.
  • Remove pastry from food processor and dump into tart pan. Remove 1/3 cup of pastry and set aside.
  • Press pastry into tart pan evenly.
  • Combine jam with 1 TBS liquid of choice
  • Spread jam onto pastry in tart pan
  • Sprinkle top with reserved pastry, crumbled, and the roughly chopped nuts. (see below for photo before baking)
  • Bake crostata for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown.
  • Let cool completely, then remove outer ring from pan, and cut into wedges.

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