sharing recipes from one generation to the next
Do you have indelible food memories, a library of tastes that when encountered, instantly transport you through space and time? I have many.
Jam tarts were a commercial cake shop staple during my childhood. Usually the pastry was thick and gluey, the jam so heavily sweetened that the flavour of the fruit was indiscernible. I found it easy to refuse those jam tarts.
It was only to be a polite that I accepted a modest piece of plum jam tart in an Italian home during my first visit overseas, 22 years ago. It was a revelation. The biscuit crust was buttery and crisp, it melted in my mouth and the filling of plum jam was tart and fruity, distinctively plum.
The memory of that tart has stayed with me but I had never tried to replicate the delicious flavour for fear of spoiling that long held memory, then, a few weeks ago I made plum jam, tart plum jam. The flavour sent me instantly to Italy 1997, and to search for a reliable recipe for a simple Italian pasta frolla, sweet shortcrust pastry.
There’s no one better than Marcella Hazan’s to turn to for authentic Italian food, so, guided by her recipe for La Crostata di Mamma in The Second Book of Classic Italian Food, I recreated my ultimate Italian jam tart. The pastry was sublime.
My long held memory of that Italian jam tart is thankfully still intact. The simple plum jam tart I made was incredibly delicious, especially with a dollop of whipped cream. This pastry recipe will be my sweet shortcrust of choice in the future.
Crostata di Frutta
250g plain flour
110g castor sugar
Tiny pinch of salt
110g butter, melted and cooled
2 tablespoons milk
finely grated zest of 1/4 lemon
2 egg yolks
150g good quality fruit jam
In a medium sized bowl, mix together the flour, sugar and salt.
Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients then add the lemon zest, butter, egg yolks and milk.
Mix everything together until the dough form, then knead lightly until smooth and the ingredients are evenly distributed.
Put the dough into a covered container and chill for 30 minutes.
Pre heat the oven to 180C.
Divide the dough into thirds.
Take 2/3 of the dough, place it on a sheet of baking paper.
Place a second piece of baking paper over the dough then roll into a neat circle about 1 cm thick.
Lift the pastry, on the paper onto a baking tray.
Stir the jam to loosen the texture then spread it over the dough leaving a 1cm margin at the edge.
Roll the small piece of dough 1 cm thick then cut into strips about 1 cm wide.
Make a lattice with the pastry strips over the jam.
Take the remaining scraps and roll into a sausage about 1 cm thick.
Lay the pastry roll around the edge of the tart, push down gently to seal.
Smooth edges neatly.
Bake the tart for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.
Allow to cool for 15 minutes before cutting.
Serve warm or cold with a dollop of whipped cream