Easy Raspberry Tart (Crostata di Lamponi)

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The appeal of weekend baking is undeniable. What could be better than the smell of starchy goods slowly developing a golden tan in your oven as you sip coffee, tea or herbal infusions all sorts? Getting my hands floury and sticky is my ultimate Sunday pleasure, whether it’s bread, a savory quiches or a luscious, ruby red tart. And this last weekend I hit the jackpot, delivering the three! As my no-knead bread dough was safely baking, I made a batch of rich and flakey pastry, suitable for both sweet and savory dishes. I used some for a lip-smakingly delicious leek and pancetta tart and turned the rest into the perfect shell to contain a crimson concoction made with frozen raspberries, sugar and  a few other favourites. It’s Monday now…only 6 days until I can revel in this ritual again…Hang in there, Silvia!

INGREDIENTS, serves 8/10

For the flaky pastry

100 gr (3.5 oz) of butter, cut into cubes and frozen for 30 minutes

180 gr (6.5 oz) of plain (all purpose) flour

1 tablespoon of sugar

1-2 tablespoons of cold water

For the filling

2 cups of frozen raspberries

5 tablespoons of sugar (add more if you like it very sweet)

1 scant tablespoon of butter

1 scant tablespoon of corn flour

1-2 tablespoon of sugar to sprinkle on top just before baking

HOW TO

1. Start by making the filling. Place frozen berries, sugar and butter in a pot and stir over low heat until the berries have released their natural juices and the liquid has reduced by 1/3. This will take about 2-3 minutes. Add the corn flour, stir well and cook for a further 2 minutes until it starts to thicken. Turn off the heat and allow to cool at room temperature, then you can refrigerate it for up to 3 days.

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2. To make the pastry, put the frozen butter cubes, flour and sugar in the food processor and pulse until wet crumbs form. Add the water, starting with 1/2 a tablespoon, keep pulsing and continue adding more drops of water until a soft dough is created. Tip the dough onto a floured surface, press with your hands to smoothen it, then flatten it with your palms, wrap it in plastic film and rest in the fridge for a minimum of 30 minutes, up to 3 days.

3. Heat up your oven to 180 C (350 F). Grease and flour a 20 or 24 inch tart tin. Roll the rested dough into a disk and reserve some to cut into strips and create a lattice pattern to decorate the top with. Line the tin with the pastry disk, pour in the filling and place the strips on top in a criss cross pattern. Sprinkle the tart with some sugar and bake until golden and gorgeous. DSC_4286

4. Cool at room temperature and serve as it is or with whipped cream.

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Apple and Sultana Tart (Crostata di mele e uvetta)

This is one of my “Desert Island” dishes. I guess it’s because Mamma used to make this a lot when we were little ,and to me it still tastes of home and lazy Sundays snuggled up on the couch watching cartoons, fighting with my brother and my sister over the last slice of crostata. Legend has it that my brother Gianmarco once managed to snatch 14 slices all to himself and lived to tell the tale!

This is to show that cake is obviously good for you…

INGREDIENTS, serves 8

For the pastry (pasta frolla)

150 gr of cold butter cut into cubes

250 gr of plain flour

1 egg

120 gr of icing sugar

1 teaspoon of vanilla paste

finely grated zest of 1 lemon

Pulse all the ingredients with a food processor until you have wet crumbs. Tip them onto a floured bench, press the touch together with your hands, shape it into a ball. Wrap it in plastic film and rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.

For the filling:

Soak a couple of handfuls of sultanas in Marsala wine and  slice up three apples and cook in a pot over a low flame with two table spoons of brown sugar, a tablespoon of butter and a splash of water. After 10 minutes add the sultanas and some of the soaking liquor as well as lemon zest and a cinnamon quill. Cook it together for 5 minutes, than pour the mixture onto a bowl I let it  cool down.

1. Bring your oven to 170 degrees Celsius.

2. Grease and flour a tart case and put 3/4 of your chilled flattened pastry onto it, trying not to over handle it. Place the rest of the pastry back in the fridge.

3. Pierce the base with a fork and blind bake until it starts to turn golden.

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4. Once the tart case is cooked and slightly cooled, pour in your apple mix and use the left over pastry to decorate the top of the tart. I always favour a criss-cross pattern. Sprinkle with flaked almonds and place in the oven for around 30 minutes.

Cool down before serving.

A generous helping of crostata and a glass of Vin Santo and I am  already in my desert island …

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