Crostata is a family favourite and an easy, quick recipe that results in colourful and flavourful squares. Plus, it uses up jars of jam, which I was attempting to do to make room for new jam experiments this summer.
I say it’s easy, but I’ll be honest. My first attempt at crostata was a weak one (let’s just say I didn’t measure right). I got frustrated so I started looking at other crostata recipes, including in The Silver Spoon, but the crusts were more like shortbread/shortcrusts with butter. While I’m sure they would taste good, it wasn’t authentic to how my family and relatives cook their recipes. For example my family uses oil, probably originally olive oil, instead of butter and liquor like Anisette instead of vanilla, which they never would have had, for flavouring.
So I stuck it out and tried our family’s original recipe again. And again. And now it’s not only mastered, but memorized. It turns out it is really easy, as long as you are paying attention and measure right!
In this version of crostata, I dug out a jar of my mom’s peach-orange freezer jam and used Triple Sec (orange liquor) for flavouring the dough.
4 large eggs
1 cup sugar
¾ cup oil
3 teaspoons baking powder
3 ½ to 4 cups all purpose flour, perhaps a little more for dusting
2 teaspoons vanilla, or liqueur or flavour of your choice
2 cups of jam or your choice
Mix all your dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside. Mix all the wet ingredients including the eggs in large bowl. You can do this by hand, with a fork or a whisk, or in a mixer (like lazy me). Combine the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients and mix well. The dough will be stiff. If it’s a bit wet, add some more flour a tablespoon at a time.
Empty the dough onto a floured working board and knead for just a minute. Remember to dust the board and dough to prevent it from sticking to each other. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let it rest for 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes, unwrap the dough and cut away 1/3 of it. Cover this third with the plastic wrap or a towel and set it aside for use for the lattice top.
Dust your working board with flour again and begin to roll out the remaining 2/3 of the dough to the approximate size of the pan you are using. I used an 11″x17″ baking sheet, but you could do two smaller round pans. When it is rolled out to the approximate size, you are ready to move it onto the pan. Be sure to spray the pan with non-stick spray, or butter it, before placing the dough.
Move the dough to the baking sheet by hand (be careful) or lay it across your rolling pin to move it over. Don’t worry if the dough breaks or doesn’t reach the sides of the pan. This dough is very forgiving. You can pinch and press the dough together to do repairs and since it is covered in jam, once baked, the patching doesn’t show. You can see some of my patchwork in the photos!
Place the dough on the baking sheet and do your repairs to the dough so it fits the sheet. Prick the dough all over with a fork. Sprinkle the dough with cinnamon if you choose to use it. Spread two cups of jam evenly on the top of the dough.
Roll out the remaining 1/3 of dough on a very well floured surface, doing quarter turns so the dough comes even. With a pastry wheel (scalloped or plain) cut strips of about ½ to ¾ inches (1½ to2 mm) into the dough.
Starting with the longest strips, carefully lift the strips from the board and lay on top of the jam. Create a pattern of your choice. I randomly lay the strips over and under each other to form a lattice work. Mine still comes out uneven sometimes – but I just call it rustic!
Bake at 350 degrees in the bottom third of oven for about 25 to 30 minutes or until golden. Let the crostata cool completely before cutting into squares. It’s great for a quick dessert and can be frozen for eating later (it’s not too bad really cold either!).