One of the most challenging aspects of my children growing up/moving out has been the lack of baking around here! Often, the girls would bake up something fantastic or a least a cake from a box occasionally and now there is little reason to bake as John is only truly happy with something chocolate. I have been baking and putting extra into the freezer, but it's not the same. I just want a little corner of a slice of lemon pound cake, not to defrost even a whole slice! UGH!
So, I've been baking for our specialty food store and the customers are loving it!!
It's been great to be really creative with standby recipes and trying out some new things too!
I shared this crostata recipe with my cooking class last week and thought you might like it as well! I am in the process of using up last years preserves and cleaning out the multiple jams that clutter up the refrigerator.
A traditional crostata is large (12 inches or so) but I find a smaller size is a bit more compatible with my style! So. I've been making them about 4 inches round. I chose an apricot jam that has been lurking around for fruit tarts and cheese trays.....
I love the fact that crostatas can be a bit rustic, but hold together well and are less flaky than a pie crust based dessert. They mix together quickly, and taste great with virtually any preserves. Be careful not to handle the dough too much, as that causes it to be tough or over bake as it just turns into a tiny concrete mess!! I like to use jams and preserves that aren't too sweet, as the baking can concentrate the sweetness, but you could add a tablespoon of lemon juice to your jam first to combat that dilemma!
1 2/3 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
2/3 cup butter, room temperature
1 egg yolk
zest from 1 lemon
2 cups fruit jam or preserves
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl, cream butter until fluffy and then stir in the rest of your ingredients (expect jam) handling as little as possible, until a smooth dough is formed. Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate 15 minutes.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to 1/4 inch thick. Cover the bottom only of a 12 inch baking dish with the dough. (I usually turn my dish upside down over the rolled out dough and use a sharp knife to cut the dough to fit the pan.) Since this dough is fairly sticky and delicate, if you rip or tear it, just place a little piece over the hole and press lightly. You could also free form these by just shaping the dough into the sizes you want.
Spread the jam to 1/4 inch away from edge of dough. With the remaining dough, cut a strip to create a 1/2 inch border around outside of crostata, press lightly onto edge. Use the rest of the strips to create a lattice topping for your crostata, or cut into a shape to decorate the center of the crostata.
Bake 20 minutes, watching carefully and allow to cool in pan about 15 minutes before serving.
I made tiny crostata about 4 inches round and baked them free form on a stone ware pan which turned out a bit more rustic looking than baking in a pan with sides. I found 13 minutes to be optimum time for baking. I also added about 1/2 teaspoon of almond extract to my apricot jam which was fantastic and sprinkled the jam with some chopped roasted, salted almonds! I had a total yield of 5 tarts.