Crostata is a very simple, yet delicious, Italian cake. It has a base of pasta frolla which is similar to shortcrust pastry (but less buttery) and usually a top of jam, but you can also find it filled with apples, fresh fruit, custard cream and even nutella. You could consider it the equivalent of the American pie, and the many versions of it!
It is quite easy to make, not very messy to eat and all children love it – that’s probably why it is quite often the cake of choice at children’s parties. My son is not into cakes at all, but he loves an apricot jam crostata.
You can find hundreds of recipes for crostata, all similar yet all different. They will vary in the amount of sugar and the number of eggs, and maybe also in the flavour you can add to the crust.
Just one warning: it’s a dessert that is nearly impossible to get wrong but is very difficult to get perfect. Like with all things simple.
What follows below is the recipe of my friend, Gianmaria (a man!), who has baked an incredible amount of delicious crostate.
Apricot Jam Crostata:
Mix the flour, sugar and butter (brought to room temperature) together and work until you cannot tell the ingredients apart and everything looks like grated Parmesan. Add the eggs and kneed and mix until the dough becomes homogeneous. Wrap the dough in cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes, even less if you are in a hurry. In the meantime butter a pie dish of about 28cm across.
Take out about 1/6 of the dough. With the help of a rolling pin make a disc of dough slightly larger than the pie dish and put it in the pan. It should not be too thick, no more than 1/2 cm. Use a fork to make quite a few holes in the dough right before you spread the jam. The leftover dough will be used for decorations. Traditionally you should make a grid of strips over the jam, but you can use cookie stamps to decorate according to the season or to write the birthday-boy’s name.
Bake for about 40 minutes at 180°, until the decorations are golden. Cool before eating, if you can wait that long.