Have you noticed? Some of the foods that I cooked and baked are inspired by our travel. These are the foods that we tasted, loved and missed.
The current blueberry season has reminded me a lot of the Italian Blueberry Crostata that we had and loved in Italy. According to Wikipedia at here, crostata is an Italian baked tart or pie that was traditionally baked with friable buttery dough but now, it is mostly made with shortcrust pastry. So, this means that it is completely normal for a crostata to be crumbly, fragile and break apart easily!
Is crostata a torta, galette, tart or pie? A crostata is not a torta. The Italian "torta" means cake in Italian and is often mistaken to be a tart. Galette is the French name to describe a free-form tart which is similar to the Italian crostata. Some might say that crostata is a jam tart or a pie but unlike most typical jam tart or pie, a crostata is typically free-form without shaping it onto a baking pan or dish and is made with inconsistent chunky filling.
Can you believe that we have tried so many different versions of blueberry crostata in Italy? The one that we like the most is actually the most rustic and fragile type! It doesn't look pretty or delicately crafted. It was like a messy slice of tart with bits and pieces of pastry breaking off from a generous layer of chunky blueberry jam. My son and I didn't really care how sloppy the tart looked and how messy we looked when we savoured the crostata. We just pinched, licked and enjoyed till the very last crumb of it.
Since last year after our Italy trip, I have been telling my son that I must bake an Italian blueberry crostata just like the one that we bought from Mercato Centrale Firenze. Then, it was cricket cricket because I was busy looking for a job, adjusting to a new job and busy again with running... Guilty guilty!
This is my version of Italian Blueberry Crostata. It is made with a generous layer of chunky blueberry jam that is not too sweet and its buttery pastry is like a hybrid of 80% shortcrust pastry and 20% cake. Tender and crumbly just like what we had and loved in Italy...
My Italian Blueberry Crostata
that is made with Homemade Less Sugar Blueberry Jam
About one year ago at Florence, Italy...
My son and I had been going around trying different types of crostata.
This is the blueberry crostata that we like the most.
It is from Mercato Centrale Firenze and was sold by weight! Every pinch of the crostata is generously topped layer of chunky blueberry jam.
The deep golden brown pastry is crumbly and a little cake-like. Very delicious!
Now in Melbourne, I tried to create a blueberry crostata that is similar to the one we loved in Italy.
Thus, mine is also made with 1) deep golden brown crust 2) crumbly buttery pastry that is a hybrid of 80% shortcrust pastry and 20% cake and this is why it cracked a little after baking.
However unlike most crostata, mine is made with less sugar jam.
Do you know that most blueberry jam recipe contain 2 cups (400g) of caster sugar for every 500g blueberries used? Ewww!!! I made mine with 4 times lesser sugar and it is still sweet! Good to know that the excess 300g of added sugar is actually NOT necessary!!!
Just to let you know... this reduced-sugar blueberry jam with no preservative can't be kept in the room temperature for more than a day. The leftover tart needs to be stored in a fridge and consumed within 1 week.
No cracks yet! The fragile tart looked intact and when it was freshly baked.
... but the cracks appeared later when it was moved onto a serving plate. Happy and satisfied!!!
Texture and taste-wise, our crostata is as good as the ones we had in Florence!
Let me guess. You might say that the crostata looks nice but it is too difficult to bake! And 500g of fresh blueberries are too expensive to buy and use for baking! Hmmm...
Please watch my video and you will see that this impressive crostata is actually quite straightforward to bake! Plus, I used frozen blueberries to bake my crostata because they are way cheaper than the fresh ones and the crostata still tastes equally good!
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Here is the recipe that is inspired from Epicurious
Make one 15 x 20 cm crostata
For the blueberry jam:
500g blueberries, frozen and fresh
100g (1/2 cup) caster sugar
Make the jam about 3 hours or one day before baking.
Add blueberries and sugar into a large frying pan so that the large cooking area helps to speed up the cooking and evaporating process.
Stir to combine and cook mixture with medium heat until it is boiling gently. At this stage, keep cooking with constant stirring for about 15 mins until the mixture thickens. The jam is ready when the mixture does not merge back quickly after a spoon separate it. Do not under-cook or over-cook the jam. Set aside to cool completely and store it in a fridge until it is ready to use for baking. Chilling the jam will make it thicken further. This amount makes about 1 cup of jam.
For the pastry:
120g unsalted butter, soften at room temperature
30g light or dark brown sugar
20g caster sugar
35g egg yolks (from 2 large eggs but please use exact weight)
finely grated lemon zest from 1 lemon
1 tsp vanilla paste or extract
240g (1 2/3 cup) plain / all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
extra flour for dusting and rolling
To make the pastry:
Using a wooden spoon or an electric mixer with paddle attachment, beat butter and both sugars for about 1-2 mins or until combined and fluffy. Add egg yolks and beat until combined.
Add lemon zest and vanilla and beat until combined.
Sift flour, baking powder and salt into the butter mixture and use a spoon or spatula to mix until all ingredients are well-incorporated. Then, use your hands to gather all crumbs to form a dough. Wrap dough in a cling wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hrs or unil firm enough to handle.
Shaping and baking the tart:
Preheat the oven to 350°F / 180°C.
Divide dough into 2:3 portions (weight 180g: 270g).
On a lightly dusted working area, use a rolling pin to roll 300g pastry into a flat area that is slightly bigger than 15 x 20 cm. Trim pastry to be exactly 15 x 20 cm and transfer pastry onto a large sheet of baking paper. Then, transfer the baking paper onto a large baking tray.
Combine the pastry scraps with the other 200g pastry, then use a rolling pin to roll it into a large rectangle with 2-3 mm thickness. Cut the rolled pastry into two 20-cm and two 12-cm strips with about 1.5 cm width. Arrange the pastry strips on the edges of the 15 x 20 cm rectangle and fill the middle area evenly with blueberry jam.
Cut remaining rolled pastry into 10-12 long strips with about 0.5 cm width. Arrange 5-6 strips diagonally over the jam area with even spacing. Arrange the remaining 6 strips diagonally in the opposite direction, spacing evenly and forming lattice pattern. The alternate criss-cross arrangement is optional. Press the ends to seal at the tart edges and trim off any excess pastry strips.
Cut the remaining pasty into shapes to decorate the tart if desired.
Bake tart until crust is golden brown for 30-40 mins. Cover the top of the tart with a foil very loosely while baking if the top of the pastry turns brown quickier than its base. Allow tart to cool slightly on the baking tray for 15-20 mins, then transfer the pastry with the baking paper very gently onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Slice and serve.
Store any leftover in a fridge for up to 1 week. Reheat cold tart in a preheated oven at 180°C for about 10-15 mins or until the pastry is fresh and crisp again.
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