In this Easy Jam Crostata, the pasta frolla, or Italian-style pastry dough bakes up tender-soft. It’s more like a giant jam thumb-print cookie than a tart.
When I tell someone that a recipe is easy to make, my husband frequently pipes in with, “When she says it’s easy, that just means she doesn’t have to go to the store.” Since time, or rather a lack of it, often prevents me from baking, I admit that this is partly true. In the time it takes to get two kids from the house to the car to the store and back again, I could probably be well on my way to producing some treat that would please our bellies. More importantly though, my kids, rather than squabbling in the car or begging for candy at the store, could work together with me in the kitchen. They both know how to measure, mix, stir, and knead, and while it’s not necessarily relaxing or tidy having them help, they enjoy helping me, and I enjoy their company.
So yes, if I can spontaneously make a recipe without taking a special trip to the store for one ingredient, I’d say that counts as easy. For example, if you have a couple of eggs, vanilla extract, flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, a lemon, butter, eggs, and some jam, you could make yourself a jam crostata. Check out the simple elegance of that crisscross crust that comes together in moments. And better yet, you don’t even need a tart pan to pull it off.
I like to keep a lemon or two on hand, but the first time I tried this recipe, I didn’t have one. I refused to go to the store, of course, so I made the crostata without it. Guess what? The crust tastes just fine without lemon zest. Sure, it tastes better when you include it, but don’t let the lack of a lemon squelch your impulse for impromptu baking. When I made that first crostata without a lemon, I learned that the filling tastes fantastic when you substitute balsamic vinegar for the lemon juice. While the crostata looks much like a tart made with flaky pastry dough, the pasta frolla, or Italian-style pastry dough bakes up tender-soft rather than shatter-at-the-touch flaky. The result, as my friend Peg put it, is more like a giant jam thumbprint cookie. And who, I ask you, wouldn’t want that?
If time constrains you as much as it does me, you’ll be happy to know that this recipe works well in stages. Last week, I prepared the dough when I got home from work thinking that my kids and I could finish making it after I picked them up from school. Somehow, though, we ran out of time (oh, surprise!). The dough sat in the fridge until the next day, when we mixed up our jam filling, rolled out the dough, and assembled the crostata. So you can go ahead and believe my husband, who refuses to accept that certain baked items might possibly come together with ease, or you can just believe me when I say that that this recipe really is easy to make. Either way, I’m guessing you won’t have to go to the store to find out which one of us has it right.