fig crostada :the wimpy vegetarian

About a year ago, I was sitting in my Italian class and our teacher asked us all to express to the class (in Italian) a favorite Italian dessert.  We were working with the verb piacere, translated ‘to be pleasing’, used when you want to say you like something. It’s a tricky little verb in how the sentence needs to be constructed, so it was a little more difficult of an exercise than it might appear on the surface.

Many of the usual suspects were shared: tiramisu, gelato, affogato. Then a good friend of mine, Sylvia, piped up: “crostata!”. I remember thinking “crostata”? Are they related to a crostini but in a dessert form? Amazingly, I had gotten this far in life, with several trips to Italy under my belt, and had completely missed the crostatas found on many breakfast and dessert trays all over Italy. In fact, it would be a challenge to go al bar (coffee café) and NOT see a crostata being offered.

For the as yet uninitiated, a crostata is a bake dessert tart almost always filled with jam. The tart tops are frequently, but not always, latticed.

Fig Crostata: The Wimpy Vegetarian

Well on this past trip, I made up for lost time. I had crostatas filled with apricot, strawberry, peach and mixed berry jams. The crusts ranged from soft and crumbly to a cookie-like hardness. Some were sweet, but my favorites were those that were buttery with just a hint of sweetness. All could be easily held in one hand to eat on the run, or at a small table in a sunny piazza with the first cappucino of the day.

I knew this was something I was going to have to make when I got home, and when I saw all the figs at the markets, I knew the filling I would use. This fig jam uses whole figs and is sweetened with a combination of orange juice, apple cider syrup, brown sugar, and honey. Most fig jams use copious amounts of brown sugar, which while fantastic in flavor with figs, incorporates more processed sugar than I prefer. My goal was to cut back on it as much as possible, while retaining a hint of the molasses that brown sugar offers up. I added some orange zest, cardamom and thyme to spice it up just a bit, but feel free to use whatever spices / herbs that you prefer if that doesn’t work for you.

As a note on making the lattice, I used a pasta roller that has multiple round wheels that I can space out depending on how wide I want. It worked beautifully on the lattice strips, ensuring the strips were even and quickly done. I bought mine at Sur La Table, but I’m sure they’re available in any cooking store, and it’s money well spent in my opinion.

Pasta or Pastry Roller

As a final note: making a crostata is not difficult, but it is time consuming. But the fig jam can be made ahead and refrigerated, and the dough can be made and refrigerated up to two days before using. And while I haven’t done this, I would imagine you could make the whole crostata and then freeze it until you’re ready to serve it. But, and I can’t stress this enough, it’s worth the effort. This might be the best dessert I’ve made all year.

Fig Crostata

     by Susan Pridmore

Ingredients

Crostata Crust

  • 3 cups (13.5 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • Zest from 1/2 of a navel orange, or other medium sized orange
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 18 tablespoons unsalted butter, chopped into small pats
  • 5 tablespoons ice water
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • Turbinado sugar for sprinkling on the lattice
  • Apple Cider Syrup for brushing on the lattice

Fig Jam Filling

  • 2 pints of fresh figs (I used Black Mission Figs)
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 2 ounces (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons Apple Cider Syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Zest from 1 navel orange
  • 1 ounce (2 tablespoons packed) brown sugar (or make your own)
  • 5 cardamom pods
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon honey (I used orange blossom honey)

Instructions

Crostata Crust

Combine the flour, sugar, orange zest, and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade. Pulse a few times to disperse the sugar, zest, and salt through the flour. Add the butter all at once and pulse 10 – 12 times until the butter pieces are the size of peas. This can be best checked by removing the lid of the processor and lift some of the flour mixture with a fork.

Add 4 tablespoons of the water, along with with vinegar and pulse the dough until you can tell the consistency is changing – that it’s just starting to come together as a dough. Remove the lid of the processor. The mixture should still look like flour, but clumped together in a few places. Pinch the mixture to see if it will hold together as a dough. If so, you’re done with the processor. If not, add another tablespoon of water, or more, until it does.

Spill the contents out onto a clean workspace and knead two-three times to bring the flour into a dough. Schmear the dough four time across the work space with the heel of your hand. This technique is called fraissage, and is critical to getting a flakey crust.

Divide the dough into two sections, with one section roughly twice the size of the other. Form them into two disks and wrap in wax paper. The large disk will be used for the base and sides of the tart; the smaller for the lattice. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, ideally one hour.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Roll out the larger disk between two pieces of wax paper to fit the tart pan. I rolled mine out quite a bit bigger than the pan so that I could fold the crust down all around the pan to double the dough wall on the sides of the tart. This helps prevent the sides from collapsing during blind baking.

Line the pan with the dough, tucking it into the corners, and folding down the edges to double the thickness of the sides.

Dock the dough by pricking the dough with a fork a whole bunch of times.

Line the tart with parchment paper and pie weights or dried beans.

Place the tart pan on a baking sheet and slip into the oven. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the dough starts to set up. You may need to press parts of the base down if they’re lifting from the heat. Remove the parchment paper and weights, and continue to bake for another 15 minutes, or until the crust is very lightly browned.

While it’s baking, form the lattice top. Roll out the smaller disk of dough to roughly 1/8″ thick and cut into strips.

Remove from the oven and spread evenly with Fig Jam Filling using a spatula.

Form the lattice top by weaving the lattice strips.

Lightly brush the lattice with water and sprinkle turbinado, or raw sugar, on top. Reduce the heat to 400 degrees F, and bake for 30 minutes or until the filling is bubbling and the the lattice is a golden brown.

Remove from the oven and immediately baste the lattice with the Apple Cider Syrup.

Allow the crostata to cool for 10 minutes and removed from the tart pan. Serve warm.

Fig Jam Filling

Stem and quarter the figs, and place in a medium pot over medium heat. Add the orange juice, butter, Apple Cider Syrup, salt, orange zest, and brown sugar, and bring to a simmer.

Crack open the cardamom pods with the flat side of a chef’s knife, and grind the seeds in a spice grinder. Add to the fig jam, along with the dried thyme. Lower the heat and continue to simmer the jam until it becomes thick and the figs are completely broken down, about 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and coarsely mash (I used a potato masher). Stir in the honey.

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This month is all about loving figs on Love Bloghop, thanks to host T. R. Crumbley’s suggestion. If you have a fig recipe, come join in the #figlove fun by linking up any fig recipe from the month of October 2012. Don’t forget to link back to this post, so that your readers can view all the #figlove recipes! The twitter hashtag is #figlove.

Your hosts for #figlove:

Angela @ Spinach Tiger | @spinachtiger
Valerie @ Bon a Croquer | @Valouth
Deanna @ Teaspoon of Spice | @tspbasil
Shulie @ Food Wanderings | @foodwanderings
Evelyne @ Cheap Ethic Eatz |  @cethniceatz
Sheila @ Pippi’s In the Kitchen Again | @shlylais
T.R. @ No One Likes Crumbley Cookies | @TRCrumbley
EA @ The Spicy RD | @thespicyrd
Becky @ Baking and Cooking: The Tale of Two Loves
Susan @ Wimpy Vegetarian | @wimpyvegetarian



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38 Responses to “FigLove: Fig Crostata” Subscribe

  1. Myles October 6, 2012 at 1:35 pm #

    I don’t often comment on Susan’s recipes, but this is one I could not wait to hail. Che fa venire l’acquolina! Delizioso! Squisito! YUM !!!

  2. foodwanderings October 6, 2012 at 2:02 pm #

    Absolutely stunning fig crostata Susan. It was well worth the effort. Everything about it looks perfect, the jam, lattice, everything is just beautiful.You are so fortunate to travel to Italy so many times. Sending loads of fig love your way. Shulie

  3. Helena / Rico sin Azúcar October 6, 2012 at 2:37 pm #

    This crostata is absolutely delicious, Susan! sweet and tender filling and crispy crust, looks really yummy :-D

    Sending lots of #figlove!
    Helena / Rico sin Azúcar recently posted..Barritas de aperitivo al “Old Amsterdam”My Profile

  4. angela@spinachtiger October 6, 2012 at 2:57 pm #

    This is my favorite fig recipe and I haven’t even seen many others. I”m Italian and this resonates with my eyes and taste buds. Perfect! (Susan, I can’t figure out why my post doesn’t show the fig pictures of the other posters the way that yours does). What code did you use?

    • The Wimpy Vegetarian October 6, 2012 at 5:38 pm #

      Thanks Angela!! I’m Italian in my heart, so I’m with ya!! On your code question, I posted some questions for you on our Loveblog Facebook site in case you weren’t following up here. Happy to help if I can :-)
      The Wimpy Vegetarian recently posted.. FigLove: Fig Crostata My Profile

  5. EA-The Spicy RD October 6, 2012 at 3:05 pm #

    This is just gorgeous Susan!! I can’t imagine ever making pastry as pretty as yours, but I’d sure have fun experimenting. Pinning to my “make me gluten-free board” right now, and sending loads of #figlove your way!!

    • The Wimpy Vegetarian October 6, 2012 at 5:39 pm #

      Thanks so much!! The secret is definitely the pasta / pastry roller. It’s the only way I’m every going to get even lattice strips. Would love to hear how the recipe works for you.
      The Wimpy Vegetarian recently posted.. FigLove: Fig Crostata My Profile

  6. TasteFood October 6, 2012 at 3:14 pm #

    Gorgeous tart, Susan! I’m with you in the less-sweet department. I can’t wait to make this.
    TasteFood recently posted..Grilled Chicken and Vegetable Salad with Pearl CouscousMy Profile

    • The Wimpy Vegetarian October 6, 2012 at 5:41 pm #

      Thanks Lynda! Too sweet can be a little cloying at times. I think you’d love this crostata – it’s right up your alley. I’m making your Grilled Chicken and Vegetable Salad with Pearl Couscous tonight (sans chicken). I’m substituting squash for the chicken, and I’m marinating some tofu to see how it does too. It looked like the perfect dinner for tonight.
      The Wimpy Vegetarian recently posted.. FigLove: Fig Crostata My Profile

  7. apuginthekitchen October 6, 2012 at 4:00 pm #

    Oh Suzanne, that is absolutely beautiful. I love that you used the apple cider syrup in the fig jam. Another gorgeous recipe.
    apuginthekitchen recently posted..Simple Concord Grape JamMy Profile

    • The Wimpy Vegetarian October 6, 2012 at 5:42 pm #

      Thanks so much Suzanne! The apple cider syrup brings such a nice fall fruit flavor into it, although it’s very subtle. Still looking for Concord Grapes to make your jam :-)
      The Wimpy Vegetarian recently posted.. FigLove: Fig Crostata My Profile

  8. Choc Chip Uru October 6, 2012 at 4:41 pm #

    A perfect crostata my friend, I love the ingredients :D

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru
    Choc Chip Uru recently posted..A Premature Happy Holidays!My Profile

  9. Alice @ Hip Foodie Mom October 6, 2012 at 5:09 pm #

    Wow, absolutely beautiful! and you can’t go wrong with anything from Sur La Table from my experience! Great recipe!
    Alice @ Hip Foodie Mom recently posted..Linguine with Mushrooms and Clam SauceMy Profile

  10. Erika October 6, 2012 at 5:30 pm #

    Wow, you definitely sold me on this one! Funny, I’ve been to Italy once and don’t think I had crostada there. But I’ve had the apple crostada at Maggiano’s here in the U.S. multiple times! I know it’s a chain, but it’s still soooo. good. This fig variation looks awesome!
    Erika recently posted..Pancake Fridays: Cornbread PancakesMy Profile

    • The Wimpy Vegetarian October 6, 2012 at 5:49 pm #

      Well you’ve made me feel validated again, Erika. I swear I never, ever saw crostatas in Italy either – or at least not that I remember. But it was like the yellow car syndrome. Once you’re looking for one, you see them everywhere :-). Thanks for stopping by!!
      The Wimpy Vegetarian recently posted.. FigLove: Fig Crostata My Profile

  11. Rita Held Cartalano October 6, 2012 at 6:31 pm #

    No words needed to lure me to this recipe! FABULOUS photography, Susan :o) wow
    Rita Held Cartalano recently posted..Comment on Chicken Dinner — again? by Rosie’s KitchenMy Profile

  12. Tom @ Waegook Tom October 6, 2012 at 7:35 pm #

    I LOVE figs! I put off trying them for the longest time because I thought they’d taste exactly like dates (which I’m not a fan of), but was deliciously surprised when I finally tried them. This recipe looks absolutely fantastic – I’ve never heard of crostata before, so I will have to hunt it down…
    Tom @ Waegook Tom recently posted..Dulce de Leche-rousMy Profile

  13. valerie October 7, 2012 at 4:24 am #

    Your crostata is extremely well made! It’s perfect, I’m amazed, really, and I’m sure it was excellent!
    valerie recently posted..Fig and gorgonzola croissantMy Profile

  14. Melbourne Food Snob October 8, 2012 at 4:54 am #

    Looks delicious! Is it possible to substitute ready-made jam? Or will it be too sweet?

    • The Wimpy Vegetarian October 8, 2012 at 12:52 pm #

      Most jams will be sweeter than this. You can definitely use jam as a substitute, but I would just quite a bit less to make a thinner layer. Otherwise the sweetness could be a little overwhelming. I’d love to hear how it works if you try it!
      The Wimpy Vegetarian recently posted..#SundaySupper: Cider-Spiced Sweet Potato SoupMy Profile

  15. Julia | JuliasAlbum.com October 8, 2012 at 2:33 pm #

    This fig crostata looks delicious. Saw your photo on FoodGawker.
    Julia | JuliasAlbum.com recently posted..Puff pastry pizza with bell peppers, mushrooms, and Mozzarella cheeseMy Profile

  16. Becky October 8, 2012 at 5:55 pm #

    Your crostata is amazing with the perfect crust and fig jam. I like the apple cider syrup, too.Sending loads of #figlove your way!
    Becky recently posted..#figlove Crostini with Figs, Caramelized Onions, and Apples on Goat CheeseMy Profile

  17. Evelyne@cheapethniceatz October 9, 2012 at 11:37 am #

    Oh lovely crostata. They are good, been too long I forgot. Figs are perfect for this. Great tool for creating the lattice too.
    Evelyne@cheapethniceatz recently posted..SRC: Yogurt Cheesecake with Nectarines for FFM2My Profile

  18. Deanna Segrave-Daly October 10, 2012 at 7:31 am #

    Wow – simply gorgeous – I’m so making this – I really love all your recipes & your style. And I could read about Italian foods all day long. Happy #figlove!

  19. mjskit October 10, 2012 at 6:41 pm #

    I was immediately drawn to the words “fig love”. I love figs! This is a great crostata and something I could eat in one sitting. Love the cider apple syrup. That would be delicious in a lot of different recipes – like your pumpkin soup!
    mjskit recently posted..Pear Apple Cobbler – A Twist on an Old FavoriteMy Profile

  20. Mary @ Fit and Fed January 18, 2014 at 1:51 pm #

    I missed this the first time around, but oh my gosh, this is gorgeous! It’s giving me fantasies of having friends over for tea and serving this! I cannot eat oranges so this is just the kind of recipe that can nail me if I don’t think to ask whether the recipe contains orange… in my older age I’m finally developing a higher index of suspicion about that. With all those sweet figs I’m thinking the pastry and jam would be just fine (if a bit less complex) without the orange.
    Mary @ Fit and Fed recently posted..Cooking for my Mom, Gluten, Dairy, and Soy FreeMy Profile

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Fig Bloghop: Roast Chicken with Figs, Shallots and Mustard Rosemary Potatoes - October 6, 2012

    [...] T.R. @ No One Likes Crumbley Cookies | @TRCrumbley EA @ The Spicy RD | @thespicyrd Susan @ Wimpy Vegetarian | [...]

  2. Orange Almond Semifreddo with Port Wine Poached Figs | TasteFood - October 16, 2012

    [...] Walnuts from TasteFood Pistachio Pound Cake from Oui Chef Holiday Pumpkin Roulade from TasteFood Fig Crostata from The Wimpy Vegetarian Share this:More This entry was posted in Christmas, Desserts, Fruit, [...]

  3. Cheesy Polenta with Mole and Pepper Relish | The Wimpy Vegetarian - January 12, 2014

    [...] A fig crostata, prego. Appetizer? Farinata. And when I want comfort food, I make [...]

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