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Pies and Tarts
la crostata
La Crostata (jam-filled Italian pie)
Originated from: Rome, Lazio, Italy
Occasion: Special times
Contributed by: Mary Melfi

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For the pastry dough
2 1/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups sugar
2/3 cup butter
2 egg yolks
1/8 to 1/4 cup cold water (if needed)

For the filling
Version I. Cherry jam

Version 2. Apple Crostata
4 cups sliced pitted apples
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon dark rum
2/3 cup jam or jelly


Mix pastry dough ingredients and work into a dough.

Let the dough rest for half an hour.

Divided the rested dough in two.

Roll out one half of the dough on a floured wooden board to fit a 9 inch pie pan.

Use the other half to form a lattice cover.

Fill the pie with cherry jam and make a lattice cover.

Or make an apple crostata by mixing the 4 cups sliced pitted apples with the sugar and rum and then make the lattice cover.


This recipe was taken from Alexander Lenard's cookbook, "The Fine Art of Roman Cooking" which is now out of print. The author and German chef went to Rome in the late 1950s and investigated the traditional cookery of the region. Apparently "la crostata" is known as a "sweet cake" and not a pie or tart in Rome even though it has the appearance of one to those who live in North America. Alexander Lenard says that the pastry dough recipe he gives is 2,000 years old, but this might be an exaggeration as Romans did not use sugar, but honey to sweeten their dishes. In any case, he says that the traditional "crostata" is made with cherry jam, but "modern-day" Romans prefer to use apples. I did not have home-made "cherry jam" on hand but I did have apples and Maraschino cherries so that's what I used (This turned out to be a big mistake on my part -- the resulting pie looked good, but it didn't taste good at all! ). There are hundreds if not thousands of variations on how to make an Italian crostata but this one was published nearly 50 years old so I assume it is authentic to the region. Photo: Mary Melfi.

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