If the name baffles you, don’t let it. A crostata is nothing but a tart in Italian, and a crostatine, is of course, a mini tart. Cute, ain’t it? It’s also very, very easy to make, and not at all daunting as it sounds. What you really need to make here, is a ‘Pasta Frolla’ or what is simply, an Italian version of shortcrust pastry 🙂 and then, fill it with your choice of filling – fresh fruit, fruit preserve, jam, pastry cream, the choices are many.
I really wanted to use this beautiful Fig preserve that my ‘mashi’ (maternal aunt) had bought from me from Belgium. And because I didn’t want to make something passe, I saved up the preserve for a special treat like this. It was a good decision, because the figs being naturally sweet but not overtly so, make for a wonderful filling for this beautiful flaky pasta frolla.
I don’t have a tart pan but I have 6 small tart moulds, that were the first things to go into my baker’s pantry when I started baking. I’ve never had the chance to use them before, having been rather afraid of making pastry dough. What if it fell apart? But I tell you, for my first attempt, this recipe couldn’t have been a better one! Not only is the pasta frolla really versatile, but it also holds together really well, especially in this summer heat. I made 6 crostatine (in the tart shells) and 4 small crostata, though I was out of dough and had to skip the lattice top 😦
These tarts can also be filled with ricotta or Gorgonzola cheese along with the fig jam, or you can even use a sweet caramelized onion sauce with some ricotta and top off with the fig preserve. Be creative, go bonkers!
Baking is such an addiction to me, I can’t seem to stop! This crostata, whilst in the oven, filled my home with such invigorating fragrance, than even Dad abandoned his gardening and came sniffing into the kitchen to investigate! 😛
Crostatine di Marmellata di Fichi (Italian Fig Jam Tart)
- For the Pasta Frolla:
- Powdered sugar – 1/2 cup
- All-purpose Flour – 1 and 3/4 cup
- Cold cubed salted butter – 1 stick/115 gm or 1/2 cup
- Medium egg – 1
- Milk – for brushing pastry
For the filling:
- Fig Preserve
- Sieve the flour and sugar directly into the bowl of a food processor.
- Add the cubed butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs.
- (If mixing by hand, like I did, sieve the sugar and flour into a large bowl and rub the butter into the sugar and flour mixture with your fingertips until resembles coarse bread crumbs.)
- Dump the contents on to a work surface/platform/working board.
- Make a well in the center of the bowl, and add the egg.
- Using a fork, beat the egg and then start bringing together the dough with your hands.
- Knead just until it forms a soft dough.
- Wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate dough for at least two hours, or overnight (I chilled it overnight).
- Take out the pasta frolla from the fridge and cut out 1/3 of it, putting the rest back in to chill.
- Divide this into 6 equal balls, and roll out discs. Place each disc into greased tart moulds, and press the edge against the curved marking to remove excess.
- The dough should be about 1/8 of an inch thick.
- Take the scraps and roll out into thin strips for the lattice-top, and once the tart base is filled, take out more dough, to roll out 6 long ropes.
- Fill each tart mould with jam, and place the ropes along the top edge, and using the scraps place them on the top in a lattice-cross pattern.
- Prehat oven to 190 C/375 F.
- Brush the tops with milk and bake each tart for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden.
- Now, take out the remaining dough, and roll them out into separate discs, cutting them evenly with a 2 inch sized cookie cutter, while using the leftover to roll out the same ropes as before.
- Place the discs on a parchment lined baking tray, and fill with jam.
- Brush the sides with milk/or egg wash, and place the ropes on the top, encircling each disc.
- Use scraps of dough (if you have any) to fill the tops with a lattice-pattern again.
- Bake for 25 to 30 mins at 190 C/375 F, or until golden brown.
Note: If you find your dough too tough or dry, add a tbsp of ICE water. This will ensure you get a flaky dough. I didn’t need to use any, and ended up with quite a nice pastry base 😀