Friday, November 27, 2009
Every November two questions come up: What to do with all my quinces? (I have a quince tree in Umbria) And what pies to make for Thanksgiving? This year I had the same answer to both: a Quince Crostata. While I’ve made plenty of quince crisps and pies over the years, somehow the idea of a crostata never occurred to me. And this is strange, since in my neck of the woods (I’m talking Todi) I’m considered the Crostata Queen. Invite me to dinner, and I will certainly bring a crostata or two.
This year my mind made the quince-crostata leap thanks to a mega-jar of quince jam that my friend Sienna brought me. (jam tart = crostata) My friend Laura has an especially prolific Quince tree in Todi and Sienna helped her transform the bounty into gallons of jam. As an extra treat they also went to the trouble of preparing several kilos for freezing in beautifully shaped crescents.
So, with these ingredients in hand, assembling the delicious, buttery crostata was a breeze. Here’s the recipe:
(This is from Susan Hermann Loomis’s wonderful book Italian Farmhouse Cooking, p. 439. It is easy, and the best crostata recipe I’ve found. Thanks Susan! Note to my mother: no, you cannot substitute margarine for the butter. )
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
7 tablespoons butter (125 grams) softened
2 egg yolks, room temp
1/2 cup sugar
grated peel of one lemon (if you feel like it)
Put flour in in big bowl, and make well in center. Add butter, yolks, salt and peel to well. Mix the wet ingredients with your fingers, then slowly start mixing in the flour. Just use your hand, and eventually the heel of your hand to mush it all together until it forms a ball.
Let the dough rest for ten minutes, then push it out into a parchment-lined tart pan. Don’t try to roll it out, just spread it out to the edges with the palm of your hand, to form an even crust.
At this point the crust is ready for any jam filling. Home made is fantastic, of course, but store bought is fine too. Obviously the better the jam, the better the crostata.
Spoon about a cup of quince jam onto uncooked crust. Spread out evenly with the back of a spoon.
Peel and cut one large quince into thin slices. Layer decoratively over the top of the tart. Carefully brush the quinces with a thin layer of extra jam, just to give them a gloss.
Bake in a 180〫C / 350〫F oven for about 25 minutes.
Cool and serve.