Yay! Time to put away the thick jackets, because winter is like, so last season ☺ Actually, I’m sure I’m being a bit premature with my longing for warmer weather, but at least it’s official on the calendar. Happy first day of Spring to all my Southern hemisphere friends, and Happy Fall to the northerners.
To celebrate, I made some strawberry crostata. This is based very heavily on a Plum and Hazelnut crostata found in Mix and Bake by Belinda Jeffery (a book I’ve mentioned many times before). I’d always thought a crostata had jam filling, and needed to be made with a sweet pastry (pasta frolla). These were made using a simple shortcrust pastry, though I did add a tablespoon of sugar to mine.
But regardless of definition, they were delicious. MC Senior’s eyes shone when she took a bite, she could only manage, “Oh mum, the strawberry tart…”, then was lost for words. And you gotta love a recipe that calls for free-forming the tart base.
It looks pretty sensational too, slices of strawberry sit atop a filling made of sugar, and nuts, and a bit of flour. I must admit I was dubious about the flour but I trusted the recipe and it worked really well because the juices from the fruit run into the filling and make a sort of moist layer between the fruit and the pastry. Another win for Belinda ☺
I’d made a banana version as well with leftover browned bread crumbs from the browned bread ice-cream, and although tasty, the bananas weren’t juicy enough to provide the same overall texture as the strawberry. I think if I had more time, a salted caramel sauce would have gone well with the banana ones. But who wants to spend too much time in the kitchen when the great outdoors is calling!
Here’s my take on the crostata. I made the shortcrust pastry given in the book but you can use any shortcrust pastry, I’m sure you’ve got a favourite.
Then I made a base filling by combining equal parts caster sugar, finely chopped nuts and plain flour. In this case, I used 2 tablespoons of toasted and finely chopped almonds and sugar, and about 1 and a half tablespoons of flour. I also added the grated zest from a quarter of a lemon for flavour. The original recipe uses a combination of ¼ cup sugar, hazelnuts and flour, flavoured with cinnamon, to make a whole crostata. I made 4 mini ones, and this flour mixture was enough for two of them.
Roll out ¼ of the shortcrust pastry into a circular shape about 5mm thick (I’m guessing here, can you tell?). Sprinkle about half the flour filling onto the base, but leave enough of an edge around the outside so that the pastry can be folded back over the fruit and filling. Layer sliced strawberries over the top, fold pastry over, and sprinkle the strawberries with a little bit more sugar (to taste).
Bake in a hot oven until pastry is golden brown (about half and hour or so, more for larger tart). The fruit does tend to look a bit dry, so just before the crostata has finished baking, brush some warmed, sieved jam over the fruit to glaze it, and return to the oven to finish.
For the banana version, I sprinkled the base with the leftover browned bread crumbs, and topped with banana slices which had been tossed in lemon juice. To glaze, I used a bit of maple syrup.
Looking forward to making these with peaches, and cherries! Yum,