What is that one cake or sweet that reminds you of your childhood the most?
If you asked me I’d say crostatas, the pie-looking tarts commonly filled with jam my grandmother used to make. Every Sunday morning I would go to my grandma’s house, where I was welcomed by the smell of a scrumptious Sunday lunch. But what interested me the most was what was hiding in the dark living room, where all the cakes were left to cool down. And that’s where I would always find a crostata, its warm homemade jam tempting me have a taste, just a bite.
It’s been a few years since I’ve had a crostata, I’m not sure why I haven’t made it since leaving Europe. Maybe I never had enough people to bake it for, since it’s a tart I always shared with friends and family, or maybe baking it myself reminds me too much of when others used to bake it for me – and of how quickly time flies when your not paying attention, only to wake up one day and realise that you have to bake your own tarts.
Whatever it was, it’s no longer relevant because I made my first “Australian” crostata just last week and I intend to bake many more from now on! To my surprise, it was a lot easier to make than I remembered, and super-quick, too!
Italian Shortbread Pastry (Pasta Frolla)
Translated from GialloZafferano.it
500 gr Cake Flour ( or All Purpose/Plain Flour)
250 gr Unsalted Butter (cold, cut in pieces)
Pinch of Salt
4 Egg Yolks
200 gr Icing Sugar
1/2 tsp Vanilla Essence
500gr Apricot Jam (Filling)
1. Place the flour, salt and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer and mix on medium speed until the mixture resembles bread crumbs.
2. Pour the flour on a flat surface and create a volcano (!), then add sugar, egg yolks and vanilla. Quickly knead until the dough is smooth and elastic.
4. Wrap the dough in cling wrap and let it rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
5. Your Pasta Frolla is now ready to be turned in a Crostata!
Plain flour worked well for me, however, for best results or more complex pies (for example a braided edge), I suggest you use a flour low in gluten (cake flour), as this will make your dough more elastic and easier to shape.
1. Preheat oven at 180°C
2. Grease a loose base tart pan (I used a 24cm, but there’s enough dough for a slightly bigger one). If using a tart pan without a loose base, line with baking paper.
3. On a floured surface, roll half the dough with a wooden rolling pin until 5mm thick. Line the tart pan with the dough, cutting the extra pastry with a knife and making sure there are no holes or air bubbles. Spread the apricot jam evenly with the back of a spoon.
4. Roll the other half of the dough, then cut 1cm/1.5cm strips. The more precise you are, the better the crostata will look once baked. Apply the strips on the crostata, horizontally and vertically, pinching the edges slightly to secure.
5. Bake at 180°C for 30/40 minutes or until the crust is a nice golden brown. Let it cool in the pan before attempting to remove.
Does it look delicious? Because it most definitely was!
I’ve been working on my photography, I know I’ve got a very long (and probably steep knowing my luck) road ahead of me in terms of photographing food but I’m trying to improve bit by bit.
So, what is the food that reminds YOU of your childhood the most?
I’m curious, don’t keep me hanging!
Your excitable baker,