This shortcrust pastry treat is a classic round Italian tart filled with yummy jam and a lattice top that you will love! This traditional Italian crostata recipe is easy to make and will impress your family and friends, the bonus is all the different jams and other fillings that you can experiment with once you have mastered making the simple, foolproof crust.
Kitchen tools and equipment used for crostata
Grab your tart pan and sprinkle some flour on the cutting board because this Italian jam tart recipe is going to be your family’s new favorite sweet treat. Here’s what you’ll need:
a rolling pin
a large cutting board or other flat surface
a 24-cm tart pan with removable bottom or large pie tin
a fork or wooden spoon
a food processor (optional)
What are the ingredients for Italian pastry dough and filling?
All-purpose flour (330 grams + extra for flouring surfaces) – be sure to keep the flour on hand as you will need it to flour surfaces and also the tart pan before baking.
Butter (165 grams) – either unsalted or salted butter is fine, make sure you soften it before using so that your dough has a nice, even texture.
Granulated sugar (130 grams) – you can add less sugar if you are using a very sweet jam such as fig jam.
Eggs (1 whole egg + 2 yolks) – leave the eggs out to come up to room temperature before cooking with them.
Lemon (1) – you will need to zest one organic lemon. You can substitute with organic orange or lime zest if you think it will work better with the jam flavor you picked for your crostata, or leave it out completely if you prefer a more neutral base.
Vanilla extract (1 tsp) – you can leave out the vanilla if you prefer, or add another flavoring such as a dash of rum or your favorite liqueur.
Salt (1 pinch) – if you used salted butter, you can leave out the salt or add less.
Baking powder (1/2 teaspoon) – just a little bit of baking powder will ensure this recipe rises slightly and comes out perfectly.
Apricot jam or other fruit jam (500 g) – the most iconic crostata jam fillings are apricot, cherry, fig, strawberry and blackberry. We love it with Nutella too! If you need to reduce sugar, you can substitute with low sugar jams.
Step by step crostata recipe instructions
Make the pasta frolla dough by first whipping the softened butter with the sugar, lemon zest and vanilla and then slowly adding the whole egg and yolks (photo 1). Once it is mixed, slowly add the flour until incorporated. You can do this all in a food processor if desired, but we prefer to do it by hand with a fork or wooden spoon (photo 2).
Shape the dough into a smooth ball (photo 3), cover with cling film and put in the fridge for at least 2 hours (photo 4).
On a lightly floured surface, roll out most of the pasta frolla dough to a thickness of about 4 mm (~1/6 in) (photo 5).
Use a pat of butter to grease the tart pan and then dust it with flour until covered completely. Roll the dough onto the rolling pin (photo 6), lift it and roll it out to cover the pan bottom and sides (photo 7). Gently press the dough to adhere to the bottom and sides of the pan (photo 8) and remove any extra dough and set aside for later use (photo 9). Now press the tines of a fork into the bottom of the crust to form lots of little holes.
To make the jam tart filling, pour the jam into a bowl and stir it well so that it is smooth and there aren’t any chunks.
Pour the jam into the Italian crostata shell, but don’t fill it to the top (photo 10). This step is essential to follow if you want the jam to stay below the crisscross top when baking!
Place the shell in the refrigerator and use the remaining dough to make strips. You can place the dough back in the fridge if it is too warm to work with, as it should be cold and firm so that it can hold its shape.
Roll the extra crostata dough into a rectangle shape and then cut strips that are the length of the crostata top and about 1.5 cm width (~1 inch) (photo 11).
Place the strips an equal distance from each other over the top of the jam filled crostata going one way and pinch each of the pastry edges to seal and remove any extra length.
Now lay more strips the other direction to create a crisscross effect on the diagonal, so the center is diamond shaped (photo 12).
Preheat the oven to 355 °F/180 °C.
Put the entire crostata back in the fridge while the oven comes up to temperature.
Bake the crostata on the middle rack at 355 °F/180 °C for the first ten minutes and then lower the temperature to 345 °F/175°C and bake for another 20-30 minutes.
The crostata is ready when the crust is golden brown.
Remove from the oven and let the crostata cool for 10 minutes, then remove from the mold and let cool for another 2 hours. You can serve once cool or wait to eat it the next day when it is even better.
Expert tips for making crostata
Let the dough chill. The perfect dough for making a great crostata is cold and firm. You should let it rest for at least 2 hours, but you can even keep it overnight in the fridge, just be sure to take it out 15 minutes before using so you take the chill off before you roll it out. If the dough warms up too much while you are working with it, cover it and pop it back in the fridge for 10-20 minutes and it will be ready to use again.
Don’t overfill. A crostata should be fairly flat, so don’t overfill the crust. This also ensures that you can place the criss cross lattice top on without it bubbling through and burning.
Other filling options. Besides using fruit jams of all kinds, you can also use the same amount of Nutella (sweetened chocolate and hazelnut spread) exactly as you would the jam. You can also consider using fresh fruit by making it into a sort of jam by cutting it up into small pieces, smashing it and cooking it with a few tablespoons of sugar until the water from the fruit evaporates, stirring constantly.
Skip the butter. If you prefer not to use butter, you can substitute the 165 grams of butter for 75 grams of sunflower seed oil. When using oil, whisk the eggs with the sugar, lemon zest, vanilla and the pinch of salt and then pour the oil slowly, incorporating it into the mixture with a fork. Finally, add the flour and proceed as for classic shortcrust pastry.
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How should Italian jam tart be stored? How long will it last?
You can store the crostata in an airtight container or covered with plastic wrap for up to 4 days at room temperature or in the fridge. We like to serve it cold, straight from the fridge on warm nights.
What’s the difference between crostata, galette, tart and pie?
Crostata (a term from Italy) and tart are very similar, both are made in a pan with a removable bottom and have a shortcrust base that is firmer and can stay intact when removed from the form. Both are filled with jam or another smooth low filling.
Galette is a French term for a free form style of crostata or tart that is fairly flat with the edged folded inward and cooked on a baking sheet instead of a mold. Often the filling is made from fresh fruit and sugar.
Pies usually has a much flakier crust and are served directly in the pie pan as they won’t stay intact without their mold. Pies often have a lot of filling and the filling itself is often more complex with cream, eggs and various vegetables or fruit purees, such as pumpkin pie or cream pie.