RECIPE: This sweet crostata sings of spring

Strawberry season always surprises and delights me.

Just as I program myself to settle in for a cold winter, Valentine’s Day arrives, and shortly thereafter the first beautiful Florida strawberries. In a fit of springtime optimism, I always buy more than I should, which gives the pastry staff headaches. Needless to say, we make a lot of strawberry jam. While a simple jam on great bread is a perfect way to enjoy strawberries in season, a crostata — or galette, depending on which baking tradition you embrace — can be a showstopper.

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This crostata di marmellata is a classic Italian tart that can be customized with any fruit worth preserving. I’ve included the bakery’s version of “Chris bought too many strawberries” jam here. It’s not too sweet and makes the strawberries the star of the show. If you’re in a time crunch, simply buy a couple jars of the best preserves you can find instead.

Strawberry Crostata
  • For the crust:
  • ½ cup (100 grams) sugar
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 3 cups (390 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (200 grams) very cold butter
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • For the filling:
  • 1 pint (357 grams) strawberries, washed and hulled
  • 2 cups (400 grams) sugar
  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Lightly oil an 11-inch tart pan with removable bottom with nonstick spray or vegetable oil.
  • In a small bowl, combine sugar and lemon zest, rubbing together until the sugar is fragrant.
  • In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the S-blade, pulse together flour, butter, baking powder and sugar/lemon mixture, until butter is the size of small peas. Add eggs and pulse again until dough is crumbly but holds together like wet sand when squeezed. Cover the mixture tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 20 minutes.
  • On a lightly floured surface, divide the dough in half and return one half to the fridge. Flatten the remaining dough into a disc, then roll the dough up and down until it looks like an oval. Turn dough 90 degrees and repeat rolling process. Turn 90 degrees and continue rolling process until you have a 13-inch circle.
  • Gently transfer dough to the tart pan and press gently to line, making sure dough is flush to the edges of the pan. Allow extra dough to hang over sides. Using a rolling pin, roll across top of ring to separate extra dough and create a neat edge.
  • Poke bottom of tart with a fork 10 to 12 times to allow pastry to vent and rise evenly. Cover tart with plastic and refrigerate at least 20 minutes.
  • Repeat rolling process with second half of dough. This time, slice dough into ½-inch strips for the lattice top. Place in a single layer covered in plastic and refrigerate at least 20 minutes.
  • While dough chills, prepare filling. Place the strawberries in a stainless steel or other nonreactive pot. Over medium heat, mash the strawberries. Add sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest and stir to dissolve sugar. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and boil 12 minutes, until a candy thermometer reaches 220 degrees. (You can test if jam has set by placing some on a frozen plate. If you can run your finger through the jam without the it running back together, it’s done.) Once set, refrigerate jam until cool, about 30 minutes.
  • To assemble the crostata, fill tart shell with 16 ounces jam. Lay pastry strips across the top, creating a lattice effect. Bake 40 to 50 minutes, until the crust is golden brown. Let cool 1 hour before serving. Serves 12.

Nutritional information

Per serving: Per serving: 436 calories (percent of calories from fat, 33), 5 grams protein, 69 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 17 grams total fat (10 grams saturated), 71 milligrams cholesterol, 177 milligrams sodium.

Chris Wilkins has been a professional baker for 12 years. He is a two-time James Beard Award nominee and the founder and co-owner of Root Baking Co. and Pizza Jeans. Submit your baking questions to bakebetterajc@gmail.com.

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