When I don’t know what dessert to make at home, it generally ends up being a crostata (baked tart) with jam. The reasons for this are many: (1) I always have the right ingredients in the pantry/fridge (2) the family loves it (3) it reminds me of my childhood. The combination of fruity jam and shortcrust pastry makes me feel warm and fuzzy, and brings back sweet memories of home, family and those pastry shops in Italy where you buy crostata by weight. I remember being horrified at primary school when one of my friends shared a jam tart with me – the jam was bright yellow and the pastry was terribly sweet. And it came in a crinkly plastic wrapper. I tasted it, smiled and politely hid the rest of it in a hanky. This was nothing like the crostata that mamma made at home!
So I make crostata often. Sometimes I jazz it up a little and add fresh fruit over the jam but mostly it is simple, just like the one I ate all those years ago in the family home. I recently tried to make it into pieces that are just a couple of bites – like these little rolled biscotti. You can use any jam you like. I happen to have a lot left over from mamma’s huge crop of plums from earlier this year, so I have used plum jam. I add lemon zest to the pastry, to give it a fresh lift. These little biscotti are lovely for afternoon tea and last about 5 days in an airtight container.
Biscotti con marmellata
400g plain flour
3 medium sized eggs
140g butter, softened
70g caster sugar
Zest of one lemon
Pinch of salt
4 tablespoons good quality jam
Icing sugar for dusting
In a large bowl, mix together the sugar, flour and lemon rind. Make a well in the center and add 2 eggs and the butter. Mix well with a wooden spoon and then by hand until it is homogenous. Form a flattened disc and place it in cling wrap in the fridge for half an hour. Heat the oven to 190 degrees and line two oven trays with baking paper. Remove the pastry from the fridge and divide into four. Wrap the remaining pastry and return to fridge. Dust the bench lightly and roll the pastry until you have rectangle approximately 12cm by 24cm (alternatively roll between two sheets of cling film).
Place the remaining egg in a cup with a pinch of salt and beat it lightly. Brush the pastry with the egg and then spread approximately a tablespoon of jam on the pastry. Roll the pastry and cut into five pieces with a sharp knife. Place on a baking tray and repeat with remaining pastry.
Cook for around 20 minutes or until golden. Some of the jam will run out from the sides whilst cooking. Cool on a wire rack and dust with icing sugar when room temperature.