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Searching for the Perfect Crostata Recipe

Posted by Suzanne on 15 May 2015

Crostata di Marmelatta the classic Italian, slightly rustic, jam tart is said to have first appeared in Martino Da Como’s famous culinary book ‘Libro de Arte Coquinaria’ in 1465.

Made with a buttery, sweet shortcrust pastry often filled with a tangy marmalade it is a slice of Italian sweetness and is served all over Sicily, particularly for breakfast (it would though, also make the best dessert).


The jam

And, we at The Sicilian House will be trying our hand at baking this ancient Italian culinary classic for the first time next week using a delicious Sicilian organic lemon and strawberry jam -Marmelatta di Limone e Fragole- made on Sicily’s Ionian coast in the shadow of Mount Etna.

The marmelatta comes from an award winning UK based supplier of delicious organic Sicilian goods– we received an order from them a little while ago; a small box of Sicilian products; perfect pantry staples.


Searching for a recipe

We need a recipe that is not only perfectly simple but also results in a pure shortcrust pastry: buttery, sweet and a little crumbly when bitten into. The pastry, known as Pasta Frolla, is, without a doubt, the key to the comforting taste of a crostata.

The search for a recipe saw me flicking through my Sicilian cooking titles: Mary Taylor Simeti’s Bitter Almonds and  Sicilian Food; Manuela Darling Gansser’s  Spring in Sicily; Wanda and Giovanna Tornabene’s  Sicilian Home Cooking and Alessandra Dammone’s Sweet Sicily; a few favourites.


The pastry dough: Pasta Frolla

Pasta Frolla, Mary Taylor Simeti notes in her essential book Bitter Almonds is ‘one of Italy’s fundamental pastry doughs’. And she states in her wonderful book  Sicilian Food that ‘it is almost impossible not to tear the pastry (pasta frolla) enroute’ (to the tart tin) and that ‘this dough patches as easily as it breaks’.

How good is it to know that the dough can be easily repaired if it tears as we feed it into the tart tin. I really would like to get the Pasta Frolla right when we cook our crostata next week.

And the simplicity of Manuela Darling Gansser’s quick Pasta Frolla recipe (she pops it all into a food processor and presses pulse) in her beautiful book, Spring in Sicily seems fool proof and the way she describes her pastry as ‘thin and crunchy’ means, if we follow her recipe, we could finish up with a golden Sicilian Crostata alla Marmellata di Limone e Fragole.


Next Week's Cooking

I will find the perfect crostata recipe from these culinary greats. And, next week we will be making a little more than just the crostata. We will be cooking a simple and easy Sicilian feast using some of our perfect Sicilian pantry staples.




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