On the first days of summer, Italy celebrates the annual ripening of its most cultivated fruit tree, the apricot tree. With apricots overflowing in gardens across the country, baskets of albicocche are gifted to eagerly awaiting neighbours. And when life gives you apricots, you make Crostata di albicocche.
Crostata, meaning Tart, is the most ancient Italian dessert. Its recipe dates back to the year 1000 when sugar first arrived in Italy from the Middle East. And when the pastry with its signature criss-cross pattern met apricot jam, it was a match made in tart heaven. The nostalgic Crostata di albicocche, just the way nonna (grandma) used to make it, has since become one of Italy’s favourite recipes, perfect for a summery breakfast or morning tea.
Here is our take on the classic recipe, using Italian integrale wholegrain flour for a rustic homemade dough and a hearty apricot jam with the skins-on. The tart is then baked in a cast iron pan for old country charm. This recipe makes 500g of jam, half for the crostata, the other half can be kept in the freezer for a future crostata. You can also skip the jam recipe and use your favourite store-bought jam.
SERVES: 8 | LEVEL: INTERMEDIATE
For the apricot jam:
1 kilo ripe apricots
2 cups sugar
1 1/4 tablespoons lemon juice
For the crostata:3/4 cup farina 00 white flour
1 cup integrale wholegrain/wholemeal flour
¼ cup white sugar
1 stick (125g) cold butter, chopped into small pieces
1 egg + 1 egg yolk (save the egg white for pastry brushing)
For the apricot jam:
- Wash and halve the apricots and remove the pits. Place the apricot halves in a medium size pot with the sugar and lemon juice and simmer on medium heat for 25 mins. Stir the mixture often so the apricots don’t stick to the pot. As the apricots heat up they will soften and release their juices. After a while you should be able to start mashing the apricots with a wooden spoon.
- Once you have a jam-like consistency, turn off the heat and let the jam cool to room temperature.
- Pour half of the jam into a freezer-safe container. Place the container in the fridge for 24 hours before transferring into the freezer. Conserve the other half in the pot for the crostata.
For the crostata:
- Combine flour, sugar and butter pieces in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until there are no more visible butter pieces and the mixture is crumbly. Add the egg and egg yolk, pulse until combined and pastry forms a smooth ball.
- Wrap and refrigerate pastry dough for atleast 30 mins. Once removed from the fridge, cut ball of dough into two pieces, one slightly larger than the other. Roll out the larger piece on a floured sheet of baking paper.
- Transfer the baking paper sheet with rolled out dough into the cast iron pan to form the base of the tart. Press around the circumference and trim off any excess dough. Fill with jam.
- Roll out the smaller piece of dough on a floured surface and cut into thick strips. Overlay the strips in a criss-cross pattern over the jam. Use the leftover egg white to brush over the pastry.
- Bake in pre heated oven at 180° for 25 - 30 minutes until golden. Let cool before slicing. Best enjoyed with your morning espresso or a rich black tea. Buon appetito!
If you have any leftover dough, make little squares and place a teaspoon of jam in each, folding over and pinching the edges closed to create a pocket. Bake in the oven at 180° for about 10-15 mins until golden brown.
You can freeze your leftover jam for up to 6 months.
The crostata will keep fresh for 3-4 days in the refrigerater, if it stays un-eaten that long!