My summers growing up were pretty simple. The school was out, and since my parents and their siblings were working, they used to pack up their troubles and send them off to grandma’s. All the cousins met up at the rural house in the country and we had a great time together. If we wanted to have fun, we had to come up with something fun to do. Nobody was driving us places, hovering over us fretting if we used sunscreen and if our young brains were stimulated enough. Grandma gave us something to eat three times a day and if we fought too hard and there was blood, I *think* she washed us up and slapped a Band-Aid on. That was it. Aaaah, memories.
Grandma also made sure we weren’t just wandering around doing nothing all day, and had no problem taking advantage of free child labor she had awaiting her pleasure. She had a big garden with fruit trees, and since it was summer, there were always cherries and apricots to process and preserve. We were in charge of pitting/halving the fruit and I positively hated this part of my summer vacation. To my child’s eyes the sea of fruit seemed bottomless, and just as we put away all the fruit one day, there was always more when we woke up.
It’s funny. How often we eventually get to like what we hated as kids? I used to despise spinach, and now eat so much of it my blood should be green, and preserving fruits and veggies is one of my greatest summer pleasures. There is something deeply satisfying in seeing those neat rows of jars filled with summer abundance in the pantry; plus, I get to play with flavors and combinations, and make each batch a little different.
This crostata (tart in Italian) showcases three kinds of jam at once, and manages to do so gorgeously! If you’re not a jam making fanatic as I am, you can just use your favorite store bought jam, and be done in no time. Playing with decorations and painting is totally optional, but so much fun 🙂
Three Jam Crostata
(inspired by http://www.findyourcake.it)
- 200 g (7 oz.) unbleached all-purpose flour
- 50 g (1.5 oz.) potato starch
- 100 g (3.5 oz.) powdered sugar
- pinch salt
- 125 g (4.5 oz.) cold unsalted butter, cubed
- 2 egg yolks, cold
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon zest
+ 1 egg yolk to paint the dough decorations; assorted food colors
1 egg yolk + 1 tablespoon water for egg wash
Quick Strawberry Jam (makes 4 cups)
- 1 ½ pints (1 ¼ lbs., 560 g) fresh strawberries, hulled and halved
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest
- 2 cups white sugar
- 1 tablespoon framboise liqueur (optional)
Quick Cherry Jam (makes about 1 ¼ cups)
- 3 cups cherries (24 oz., 675 g)
- ¼ cup white sugar
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon Kirsch liqueur (optional)
Quick Apricot Jam
- 1 kg (2 lbs.) apricots, pitted and halved
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon rum (optional)
- To make the jams, prepare clean glass jars with lids by running them through a dishwasher sanitizing cycle, or sterilize them by submerging them into a clean boiling water for 10 minutes. You’ll need to warm them up before filling them with hot jam.
- For each of the jams, pulse the fruit in a food processor couple of times to break it up a little, and then transfer it to a deep saucepan. Add the sugar and the lemon juice/zest, and cook on a medium heat until thick to your liking (10 – 15 minutes, for thicker consistency cook longer). Check the consistency by putting one drop of preserves on a cold plate that has been in the freezer for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and add rum/liqueur if using.
- Ladle the hot jam into the preheated jars, and screw the lids on. You can either can the jars by submerging them into boiling water for 10 minutes, or just turn them upside down on a clean towel, let them cool and keep them in the refrigerator. (This is what I do when I preserve small quantity of fruit such as in this case – the jams are gone within a week anyway 🙂
- To make the crostata: Place the dry ingredients in a bowl of your food processor, fitted with an S – blade; pulse to combine. Add the cold cubed butter and pulse until the mixture resembles peas (you should still see small pieces of butter, that’s what makes the pastry tender and flaky.)
- One by one add the egg yolks and the zest, mix just until combined and the dough comes together in a ball. Wrap the dough in a saran wrap and chill it for 30 minutes, so it will be easier to roll.
- On a floured surface, roll the dough into a circle a little bigger than your tart pan with removable bottom. Transfer the rolled out dough into the pan and press it up the sides of the pan. Roll out three pieces of dough into a rope about ¾ cm thick and braid them together. Place the braid onto the dough in the pan, dividing it into thirds.Chill the dough while you preheat the oven to 375 °F (190 °C). Reserve the scraps of the dough for decorations.
- Place sheet of parchment paper on the surface of the dough, and fill it with pie weights or dry beans. Parbake the crust for 15 minutes. Remove the beans/weights, lower the temp to 350 °F (175 °C), brush the crostata with egg wash and bake for about 10 minutes more, until the crust is golden brown. If the edges are browning too quickly, cover them with aluminum foil. Remove the tart from the oven and let cool completely.
- Roll out the dough scarps, cut out the decorations and chill them for 20 minutes, so they will be easier to paint. Place an egg yolk in the center of a plate and place 2 – 3 drops of desired colors on the edge of the plate. Mix a little of the egg yolk with the color you’re using and paint the cut out decorations. Place the painted decorations on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and bake them at 350 °F (175 °C) for about 5 – 7 minutes. Let cool completely.
- Fill the crostata with jams, using about 2/3 cup of each strawberry, apricot, and cherry jam. Decorate with the painted prebaked decorations and serve.
The original recipe instructions said to fill the unbaked crostata with jam, decorate it with unbaked painted decorations and bake it that way. I chose to brebake both the crust and the decorations, because I was worried the crostata filled with jam wouldn’t bake through and the crust would be soggy, and the bubbling jam would mess up the painted fruit decorations. This method took slightly longer, but I think the crostata looks better.