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If you are a “foodie” like me, you tend to get a lot of homemade foods at the holidays—in particular, jams or preserves. Mine are stacked high, filling a pantry shelf, waiting for me to work through them.
Before I lived with Nonna and her family in Viterbo, Italy, I always thought, “Besides toast and PB&J samdwiches, what else can I do with all of these holiday preserves?” Then Nonna shared her Crostata di Marmellata—Jam Tart— recipe with me and I had an answer.
Using the popular and traditional Italian pasta frolla dough (think shortbread) of eggs, flour, butter, sugar, lemon juice and a little liqueur, combined with the convenience and sweetness of jarred preserves, this recipe is truly Italian. Nonna was forever making apricot preserves from the trees in her yard, while I was there learning and cooking with her. This tart really is best with fresh preserves, but if you aren’t a canning whiz, don’t let that stop you from preparing this tart.
I like to use preserves that are a combination of fruits. In the past I have used:
Blueberry, Lemon & Thyme
anything that I found at my local farmer’s market or from my holiday stash in the pantry.
[Some of these preserves I ordered from "Sallie's Greatest Jams" - buonissime!]
Don’t get me wrong, single-fruit jams work just as well, but since this is a dessert, I like to “jazz it up” with interesting fruit combination preserves.
I hope you’ll give this recipe a try. I think you’ll add it to your dessert repertoire, using it any time you want to impress—without letting on how easy it is!
Crostata di Marmellata
To prepare the pan:
For the crust:
2 cups + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
9 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon grappa * (limoncello, brandy, milk or water may be substituted)
1 large egg, slightly beaten
For the filling:
¾ cup plum, apricot, peach or mixed berry preserves (homemade fruit preserves are
preferred—use your favorite one)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Butter and flour a 10-inch non-stick tart pan with removable bottom. Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar and salt, using a fork to mix. Add the butter in small pieces, lemon juice, grappa and egg to the dry mixture. Using a fork, stir the ingredients together, incorporating the butter until the dough just starts to come together as a whole. Using your hands, form the dough into a ball, and knead it slightly in the bowl until all the flour has been worked into the dough. Do not overwork the dough. Wrap the finished dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Remove the dough from the fridge, unwrap and divide the dough into thirds. Re-wrap one-third of the dough in the plastic wrap and place back into the refrigerator, this will be used later for the top lattice crust.
Using your fingertips, press the remaining two-thirds dough into the prepared tart pan, evenly distributing and forming the dough to fit the pan, going up the fluted sides to form the crust. Spread the preserves evenly across the bottom of the crust.
To form the lattice crust, remove the reserved one-third dough from the refrigerator and unwrap onto a rolling surface. Break off a quarter of the dough and form it into a cigar-shape between the palms of your hands. Place the cigar-shaped dough on the surface and, using your fingers, gently, but quickly, roll the dough back and forth, stretching it out from the middle, to create a “rope” that is roughly the size of your little finger. (Note: Because of the amount of butter, the heat of your hands will soften the dough. Do not become discouraged if the rope breaks or if it gets too sticky. Simply pinch the broken ends together and continue gently rolling. This is a rustic tart, so the ropes do not have to be perfect. They are supposed to look handmade.)
Evenly space 4 “ropes” along the top of the jam, pressing the ends to connect to the dough at the sides of the pan. Give the pan a quarter turn and repeat by placing another 4 “ropes” across the top of the first “ropes,” creating a lattice pattern. Secure the ends by pressing into the dough at the edge of the pan.
Bake for 37 to 40 minutes, until the edges and top crust are golden brown.** Place the tart pan on a wire rack to cool. When cooled, remove the outer ring and gently slide the tart off the bottom pan onto a serving plate. Cut into wedges and serve warm or at room temperature.
This servings 8 to 12.
*Grappa is an Italian liqueur made from the leftover skins, stems and leaves of the wine making process.
**Note: The bottom crust will have a tendency to get an air “bubble” around 20 minutes into the baking process. Using a fork, puncture the bubble down through the bottom crust to release the trapped air. Repeat if any additional “bubbles” occur.