A crostata is an Italian version of a pie. It is a sweet fat based dough similar in flavor and flakiness to a pie crust we are familiar with in the United States. The origin of the crostata dates back to the area of Napoli in the 1400s. The literal translation of crostata in Italian is, tart. Which is exactly what we are creating a tart. Of course there is a French version, but the Italian version is a bit more buttery and not as flour tasting as the French. It is interesting to see the different ways cultures interpret the same food item. The tart, crostata and pie crust are basically the exact same thing, yet each taste different due to the different ratios of ingredients used to make it.
The traditional way to prepare a crostata is with fresh fruit or jam. For example in the city of Parma in the Emilia Romagna region of Italy they use the local fruit jams such as sour cherry, plums, kiwi, and a type of blackberry. There are other Italian recipes that include ricotta, and or chocolate from different regions. The concept originally was to use your local and seasonal ingredients. If it was for a special occasion maybe you would make one more luxurious like the one filled with ricotta and chocolate.
There is a historical significance as to the divide of the regional preparation of the crostata. The Roman style of a crostata was typically with honey and fruit. The Romans were known to slather honey on almost any dessert. They have been doing it since the Roman times. Honey has existed for centuries and centuries and if no other food item or water touches the honey it can stay edible for hundreds of years. It is very impressive. Honey is a natural sweetener and so delicious when paired with different ingredients. Before the trade of sugar there was only honey and molasses so the Roman way of preparing crostata is in a sense an ancient recipe. The ricotta based crostatas are from the north via the Arabic Jews who settled in the north of Italy. In the south of Italy foods were and are very much focused on fruits and lighter foods. In the north and still to this day foods are hearty, creamier and more rich.
Yields 1 large tart/pie or 8-10 mini
300 grams of flour
150 grams of cane sugar
150 grams butter - half melted and cooled
4 egg yolks
Click below for the grape jam recipe for the filling of the crostata
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease and flour the tart shell, pie dish, or mini tart tins.
2. To prepare the crostata make a mountain shape with the flour, then create a whole in the center keeping the sides tall. Add the sugar and butter in the center and begin to mix. Then add the eggs 2 at a time and incorporate the flour to make dough. It will take some kneading for it to come together. Keep kneading for about 4-5 minutes until it is smooth.
3. Lightly flour a working surface and your rolling pin. Roll out the crostata dough to the desired size you want, but you are looking about 1/4 inch thickness. Because the dough is very soft it i very difficult to transfer it directly into the tins/pans. Don't be discouraged when it falls apart. Spread it evenly along the tart shell and make sure carry it all along the rim so that there is a nice crust. Make sure to also leave some crostata dough so you can decorate the top.
4.Fill the crostata with a nice even layer of grape jam. You can of course use any jam you prefer or have made.
5. Cut different shapes or the traditional lattice decoration and place it on top of the jam.
6. Bake in the oven for 35-50 minutes depending on the size of the crostata. If the edges become a bit golden but the crostata still isn't baked all the way add a collar of foil so as to not burn the edges.
7. Let the crostata cool completely. With a platter or flat plate flip the crostata out of the tin and place on a platter.