Le Crostatine di Frutta – Updated

Crostata di Frutta

I recently made a Crostata di Frutta, the whole-tort version of the Crostatine di Frutta recipe below, for a Berry Bake-Off at my local farmer’s market.  Since then, a few people have asked for the recipe.  Here it is below.  While you can use any fruit that will hold its shape, there is nothing better than topping your crostata with the fresh, locally grown berries.

Crostata di Frutta

For the Crust
250 grams flour*
100 grams sugar
A pinch of salt
100 grams butter
2 eggs (one whole, one yolk)
Zest of 1 lemon
if available: Lievito di Pane degli Angeli, made by the brand Paneangeli (see end of original post for more information)

For the crema pasticcera
3 egg yolks
3 Tbls. sugar
3 heaping Tbls. flour
3 cups milk
1/4 lemon

Fresh Fruit for the topping
Gelatin topping (see end of original post for more information)

Prepare the crust
Pour the flour, sugar and salt onto a clean work space, or if you prefer into a large mixing bowl.  If you are using Pane degli Angeli, pour half of one packet into a tea strainer, and then sprinkle the contents of the packet through the strainer onto your dry mixture, eliminating any clumps.  Form a well in the center of the flour mixture.  Add one whole egg and one egg yolk to the center of the well, followed by the butter cut into thin slices, and the lemon zest.  Using your hands, mix the dough quickly, working from the wet center and gradually incorporating more dry ingredients.  As you mix, the warmth of your hands will soften the butter and eventually the dough will come together into a smooth, elastic sphere.  Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

While the dough refrigerates, butter and flour a 9-inch tart or shallow round cake pan, and preheat the oven to 350° F.   When the dough has chilled, remove it from the refrigerator and roll it out to about 1/4 inch thickness.  Turn the dough into the prepared pan and press it tightly against the edges of the pan, trimming the excess.  I uses a tort pan with fluted edges, but a regular round pie dish or tin will work fine, also.

Bake at 350° F for 20 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.  Remove from oven and set aside.

Prepare the crema pasticcera
Add the egg yolks and sugar to a medium size pot.  Mix until homogenous.  Gradually add the milk, and then the flour, mixing continually.  Squeeze the juice out of the quartered lemon and insert a fork into it peel side down.  Place the pot onto the stove on low heat, and stir continually with the lemon-tipped fork until the mixture thickens into a creamy, pudding-like consistency.  Allow it to boil for two minutes, stirring continually, and then remove from heat let cool for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, and then spread it onto the crust of the crostata.

Finishing the crostata
Add your fruit on top of the crostata.  You may opt to mix the fruit, or to arrange it in patterns.  Prepare the gelatin topping as per instructions on the box.  Allow to cool a minute or two, and then carefully spoon the gelatin over the fruit, covering all surface areas.  Refridgerate at least half a day before serving.


Crostatine di Frutta

It’s the 4th of July, and we are ending our culinary celebration of Independence Day with Crostatine di Frutta, or fruit tarts.

The Italian pasticceria is delectable; delicate, not too sweet, as pleasing to look at as to eat.  Le Crostine di Frutta are off-spring of the classic Crostata di Frutta, a tried-and-true tart made with the biscuit-like pasta frolla crust covered with crema pasticcera, or home-made pastry cream, topped with fresh seasonal fruit and glistening with a gelatin glaze.

This recipe is from our sister-in-law and splendid cook, Valentina, who once wrote all of her family’s favorite recipes into a small little book for me.  It is my most treasured “cookbook” and each year I tell myself that I need to have the pages laminated so that they will endure.

We opted for individual tarts, which are easier to manage today as we are eating outside on the patio at the lake, with kids out-numbering adults nearly two to one.  For more formal events, nothing is more spectacular than an entire crostata, with the glossy fruit arranged in swirling patterns of color.

It’s said that one travels in order to get to know one’s own country better.  Stefano and I have lived in three different countries on two different continents.  I was born in the United States, and moved away for a decade.  Stefano was born abroad, and moved  to the United States a decade ago.

There is no perfect place, and our nation certainly has its flaws.  However, despite its imperfections the United States truly is a remarkable country, made up of generation after generation of peoples from all parts of the world, each coming to America in search of freedom of religion, democracy, political freedom, and pursuit of a better life, and in doing so making the fabric of our nation richer and stronger.

Happy Birthday to the United States of America!

Crostatine di Frutta
makes 12 tarts

*Individual pastry shells
Crema Pasticcera
3 egg yolks
3 heaping Tbls. flour
3 Tbls. sugar
3 cups milk
1/4 lemon
Fruit Topping
Seasonal soft fresh fruit:
Gelatin topping
**2 bags of powdered gelatin glaze

Arrange your pastry shells on a large baking sheet.  Set aside.  Prepare the crema pasticcera by adding the egg yolks and sugar to a medium size pot.  Mix until homogenous.  Gradually add the milk, and then the flour, mixing continually.  Squeeze the juice out of the quartered lemon and insert a fork into it peel side down.  Place the pot onto the stove on low heat, and stir continually with the lemon-tipped fork until the mixture thickens into a creamy, pudding-like consistency.  Allow it to boil for two minutes, stirring continually, and then remove from heat and set aside to cool.

Wash your fruit and lay it out onto a clean dishcloth to dry.  Cut into small, uniform pieces any fruit that requires cutting, such as peaches, kiwi or strawberries.

Once the crema is warm but not hot, stir it well with a wire whisk while still in the pot in order to smooth out any agglomerations and to remove the film that will have formed on top, and then spoon the crema into the pastry shells until full.

Prepare the gelatin as per the directions on the package.  If it calls for liquid, use water.  Do not add lemon or orange juice, this will cloud the gelatin.  Set aside to cool.  We add a spoonful or two of sugar to sweeten it slightly.

Add the fruit on top of the cream, arranging it however suits your fancy.  When the gelatin is cool enough, spoon it generously over the fruit, covering as much of it as you can.

Allow the tarts to sit at room temperature until the gelatin solidifies some.  Remove them from the baking tray, which will have collected the gelatin spills, and transfer to a different serving platter.  Refrigerate at least 1-2 hours before serving.  These are best eaten same day.  They will keep for a few days in the refrigerator, but the pastry shells will absorb the moisture of the cream and gelatin, and will become quite soft.

*We buy large dessert-size sweet tart shells from Clearbrook Farms, which come in boxes of 12.  Locally, these can be purchased at Kowalski’s Markets, or at Lunds and Byerly’s stores.  Or, they can be ordered directly from Clearbrook Farms in packages of two boxes (24 shells).  Be sure to buy the 24 ct. 3.15″ Tart Shells, two boxes.

**We use Tortagel from the Italian producer Paneangeli and prefer powdered gelatin to gelatin sheets.  One brand available in local grocery stores is Dr. Oetker Powdered Gelatine.  However, any gelatin product will work just fine.

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6 Responses to Le Crostatine di Frutta – Updated

  1. Lok Kwan says:

    lok-kwan here in Chicago. Quinn & I enjoy your blog so much! I always share it on facebook. Check out my blog at lok-kwan.com. Happy recovery!

  2. duespaghetti says:

    Hi, Lok-Kwan. I hope that you, Quinn, Stefano and I have the chance to share meal sometime soon! We are glad that you are enjoying the blog; it’s been a fun adventure. I found yours fascinating, as well! I’m not at all versed in energy medicine, but I find attending to the emotional, psychological, and spiritual aspects of one’s health a very appealing concept.

  3. Simona says:

    I totally agree with your description of Italian pasticceria and also with your choice of dessert. When I hosted Daring Bakers last November, I chose crostata as the challenge and introduced people to this great Italian dessert. With berries at their peak, crostatine di frutta are sublime.

  4. Pingback: Torta della Nonna | Due Spaghetti

  5. Pingback: La pastiera napoletana, an Italian Easter Tart | Due Spaghetti

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