In granny’s kitchen – simple steps to an authentic crostata with la Nonna di Giulia

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IMG_3211I was recently invited to a  barbecue and being an overachiever who doesn’t know when to quit, I came home from work and thought about what I could bring the the barbecue, As I left work a colleague suggested Eton mess (she is a very sensible girl. What can I say, I didn’t listen. Some things just don’t change).   Eton mess is made by 1) buying meringues, fresh strawberries and whipping cream 2) breaking the meringues into pieces, cutting the strawberries into pieces and sprinkling with sugar and letting them sit for a bit, so that they soften, you can also squash them a bit with a fork.  Whipping the cream (you can mix some of the whipped cream under the squashed strawberries if you want) mixing it all together , spreading some cream without strawberries mixed in on top, and serving. It is delicious, it is fast, it is painless and of course it would have been sensible………..My colleague also suggested sorbet with a little bit of prosecco poured on top, not an option for a garden party however.

I thought about it, I really did, and I thought, ah I will make a crostata (a pastry, with an almond cream, filled with fruit or jam which goes wonderfully well with afternoon coffee, or tea, or for a 10am break at work, or in fact after you have finished gardening on Saturday, you get the picture). So I decided, crostata is not really baking, almost like making an Eton mess in fact.

Crostata,  is good,  tasty, homemade ( for those of you who read Chefzilla you can see I am not having much success with my general promises to self.)   I told myself. I also told myself it would be fast, it would be simple, and thinking about the first time I ate one, at Nonna di Giulias in the deep South if Italy, I knew it would also be wonderful.  Not having Nonnas recipe to hand I opened Nigella Lawsons”how to be a domestic goddess” cookbook though, and that’s sadly where this cake went wrong. Nigella says her recipe is from an Italian Nonna too, this may be true, but if that is the case, then the Nonna she knows just cannot hold a candle to the Nonna I know. Nigella’s recipe was bland, it was boring, it was very very disappointing. Sorry Nigella, often I love your recipes, but this one (along with your creme brulée) just doesn’t cut it. At all. So frustrating.  I have planned to share Nonnas recipe with you all for a while, and now I have a really good reason to do so, I want to spare anyone out there the misery that is a bad crostata, and so I take it upon myself to share the recipe of  Giulia’s Nonna and because I am feeling sociable, I am bringing this to Angies fiesta friday ( a fab fun party with amazing photographs, held by Angie the Novice gardener, journalist and amazing cook).  I haven’t visited for a while, I have been busy, and on Friday night I was at said barbecue, but tonight I am back. Angie and friends, enjoy!

While Nigella’s recipe is fast and simple, Nonna’s is less so. You need a base dough that you make and put in the fridge for some hours, and an almond meal filling upon which you bed your fruit, cherries are very nice, or else jam. I prefer fruit myself though.But trust me this is so worth it. If you try it let me know. (Recipe with Nonna, or else also read the entire recipe at the end in one text piece).

IMG_3176For the base: 300g white flour, 150g sugar, 150g butter, 1 lemon –  rind grated ( not the white part, I’d use an untreated lemon),  a pinch of salt, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 egg.

Mix all the ingredients for the base together to form a dough, wrap in clingfilm and put in the fridge to chill for at least 2 hours.

IMG_3188IMG_3211IMG_3214Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Roll out the dough  you have removed from the fridge and put into a oven proof  tin,  ideally on baking paper. (If you are making a crostata with a jam filling and want to make a lattice pattern on the top of the crostata keep some dough on the side, apparently for fruit fillings typically you don’t make a lattice pattern).

Prick  the rolled out dough in the tin it all over with a fork. and then add the filling:

Filling: 60 g sugar, 60g butter, 60g almond flour without the skins, 1 egg.

To make the filling: Mix 1 tablespoon of sugar with the almonds. In separate bowl mix the 60g sugar (minus the 1 tablespoon) with the butter, the egg and add the almonds + sugar – until you have a paste.

Spread the filling on the base.

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Add fruit or jam – now you can add either jam, I imagine blackberry jam might be nice,  on top of the second filling, and then finish with a lattice pattern. Or else you can use cherries, which is my favourite filling, or grapes, or whatever else takes your fancy. If you use jam, please use a good quality product with high fruit, low sugar content, ideally home-made. It is a shame to spend lots of time in the kitchen and then to spoil the result by using industrially made products that are not up to scratch.

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Bake for 30 – 40 minutes in the preheated oven – the crostata will be slighly golden and springy to the touch when done. Leave to cool and serve to an appreciative audience.

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Crostata della Nonna di Giulia

1) For the base: 300g white flour, 150g sugar, 150g butter, 1 lemon –  rind grated ( not the white part, I’d use an untreated lemon),  a pinch of salt, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 egg. Mix all the ingredients for the base together to form a dough, wrap in clingfilm 

2) put in the fridge to chill for at least 2 hours.

3) Preheat the oven to 180°C.

4) Roll out the dough  you have removed from the fridge and put into a oven proof  tin,  ideally on baking paper. (If you are making a crostata with a jam filling and want to make a lattice pattern on the top of the crostata keep some dough on the side, apparently for fruit fillings typically you don’t make a lattice pattern). Prick  the rolled out dough in the tin it all over with a fork. and then add the filling:

5) Almond Filling: 60 g sugar, 60g butter, 60g almond flour without the skins, 1 egg. To make the filling: Mix 1 tablespoon of sugar with the almonds. In separate bowl mix the 60g sugar (minus the 1 tablespoon) with the butter, the egg and add the almonds + sugar – until you have a paste.Spread the filling on the base.

6) Fruit or Jam topping. Final steps: Add fruit or jam – now you can add either jam, I imagine blackberry jam might be nice,  on top of the second filling, and then finish with a lattice pattern. Or else you can use cherries, which is my favourite filling, or grapes, or whatever else takes your fancy. If you use jam, please use a good quality product with high fruit, low sugar content, ideally home-made. It is a shame to spend lots of time in the kitchen and then to spoil the result by using industrially made products that are not up to scratch.

Bake for 30 – 40 minutes in the preheated oven – the crostata will be slighly golden and springy to the touch when done. Leave to cool and serve to an appreciative audience.

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57 thoughts on “In granny’s kitchen – simple steps to an authentic crostata with la Nonna di Giulia

      • No problem, glad you can make it this time. This looks amazing. I’ve always loved fruit crostatas or galettes or pies, especially filled with berries. Thanks for sharing Nonna’s recipe!

      • hello my dear Angie, I am happy too, your banana pie looks divine, and the icecream sandwiches also, I so wish we really could have a buffet it would be awesome. Try Nonnas recipe, you will love it!

  1. This looks so great! thanks for your detailed recipe. I make blueberry crostada but your recipe with the almond and jam filling sounds very interesting and I will give it a try soon! BTW I am like you too…always trying to be an ‘overachiever’! But actually the baking during the weekend helps ‘de-stress’ me! 🙂

    • Hello my dear, baking on the weekend destresses me too, only not straight after a workday, baking then just distresses me (sorry couldnt help it the temptation was too great :). I am sure your blueberry crostata is divine, it seems everyone is making blueberry things this month. The crostata with almond filling really is very good, give it a try and let me know.

  2. Happy Happy Fiesta Friday Poli! Oh my goodness…what a delightful treat that you brought to our table this weekend! Nonna’s crostata looks absolutely fabulous…and there is nothing better than authentic. That’s where you get that special flavor of love inside. Awesome Awesome post. Thank you so much for sharing this with all of us! Bookmarking this page, as I plan to make this very soon.. ❤

    • Hello Butter, Basil and breadcrumbs – thanks so much for stopping by and commenting. I couldnt agree more, Nonnas crostata is the best, and the recipes straight from someones kitchen in a country really cannot be improved on. I will share your comments with Nonna and I would love to hear what you think. It really is a very good recipe, simple ingredients, awesome result, and you will know that while you bake it wherever in the world you are, an Italian Granny is standing in her kitchen in deep Puglia and pulling the identical cake out of her oven at the same time you are, perhaps. There is a certain magic to this I think.

  3. I couldn’t agree more…. I often think on that very same line…. that someone in the world might be doing the same exact thing that I am, right at that very same moment. And I couldn’t be more happy, or comforted, to know that there is an Italian Granny sharing that same moment with me. I still miss my Nonna, even though she’s been gone for almost 35 years. ❤

    • Hi there – grannies like moms are very very special people. I dont think they ever really leave us, their memories and legacies are just too powerful, thankfully, I find that a comforting thought. My own granny died in 1985 I think, she was born in 1898 or thereabouts! I still think of her, and the foods she would make me, and the love she put into her cooking and I remember her pottering around in her shapeless house dress with her thick ankles and sensible shoes, slowly moving between kitchen and living room laying the table and serving us delicacies. And I even sometimes find myself kind of talking to her 🙂

  4. Aww, your Nonna is so cute! Thank you for giving us pictures of her doing her thing in the kitchen- that’s where the ‘magic’ happens, isn’t it?

    The crostata looks wonderful as well. Sorry Nigella’s didn’t work out for you, I’ve had nothing but good experiences with her recipes, but there’s always a few bad apples in the bunch. Fortunately, there’s Nonna’s recipes to fall back on right? Thanks for bringing this to FF!

    • Hi Jess – she is cute isnt she, times gone by! I like watching her in the kitchen there is that concentration on her work happening that I love. I generally also love Nigella’s recipes, usually they are very good,and most of them are sourced from someone else too, a granny, an auntie, a motherinlaw, a friend in Norway, someones elses cookbook, or Hettie the scone maker, and so they are old tried and true recipes with a Nigella twist. Maybe I would have liked her crostata too, if I hadn’t compared it to the one I had in Italy, same with her creme brulee, I find when approaching a recipe that I know the the taste of, and I have a clear preference for – say panna cotta, or creme brulee etc. I have less tolerance for taste deviations. A bit like saying, I grew up eating this and what my mom made was better. does that make sense? I now am suddenly craving a panna cotta with blackberries, where did that come from?

    • Dear Aditi, thanks very much for the comment, I wrote down Nonnas recipe in simple steps so all praise for her. I am glad it works well with the pictures though. Sometimes when one hasn’t made something oneself it helps to have pictures, it makes me at least more likely to try something too.

    • hi andmorefood – thanks for popping by – sometimes simple is best and less effort ends up being more, like the Gateau Bretonne I made in a past recipe blog. But still the difficult things attract us like flames the moths..

    • Hi Ahila, thanks for stopping by and having a look. I am sure Nonna will be so proud. She doesn’t go online herself so we share the posts of her when I put one up, but she is always happy to know that people read about her recipes and try them out. I will relay the information! Let me know if it was up to your expectations if you make it.

  5. This really does look and sound amazing. Maybe one day I’ll try and tackle this recipe, I might have to enlist the help of my best friend’s Italian family though!

    • Hi Johnny – thanks for stopping by and commenting – you make me laugh – if you ever have a minute and want to try something new then give this a shot – now you live in the countryside you will be able to track down orchards with fresh fruit 🙂

    • oh wow really, there you are down in deepest darkest Italy with Giuseppe, who surely has Zias and Zios and Nonnas and Grandnonnas who most assuredly would share their recipes – and you havent found one yet that works? I agree the crostata is humble but a good one is magic. I do so hope this one works for you

  6. This is a great post– all the details we need to know to make this really work! I like you idea of using cherries–since we have so many here right now– and I’d like to try the Eton Mess as well as this great Crostada!! Really fun post Poli!

    • hello my dear – thanks for the comment, really appreciate it, it does help to have pictures, you intuitively understand how to make something which is faster and easier than looking at the end result or just reading. would love to hear about it if you try it Rhonda. Happy Saturday

    • Hi there, thanks so much – I do too, its the old world for me, grannys in kitchens, with hands in the pastry bowls. Making food for the family. If you have time try the crostata and let me know how it turns out for you. I am currently reduced to admiring everyone’s food posts and wishing I had the time and energy to make something anything of all the wonders I see. Sadly but if you have some time on your hands give it a try.

      • I’m due for a little vacation in September and I’ll bookmark to treat myself to making this. I’m in the same boat as you right now, two swamped and crazed to indulge in cooking these days! What is this world we live in? (too chaotic for sure)

    • Hi there – great would love to hear your feedback, I have checked back and indeed it really is a real nonna recipe the base is classic crostata the filling is Nonnas own addition and that makes it so scrumptious 🙂

  7. Finally tried out this crostata recipe that I had bookmarked for over a year now… thanks, Polianthus, for sharing it 🙂 Please tell your grandmother that her recipe is awesome!

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