That’s probably the reason biscotti are my absolute favorite cookies to make around the holidays – they don’t ask for much in terms of labor or fuss and they happen to pack very nicely into cellophane bags for gifting and sharing.
This is a homey Italian grandma dessert, plain and simple. The crust is a basic sweet dough easily made in a food processor and the filling is good quality jam. I used wild blueberry in this one.
I had an Italian grandma – two, in fact – but I can’ t remember if either one ever baked a jam tart. There wasn’t a tremendous amount of baking in their kitchens, come to think of it. There were so many traditional family bakeries in the neighborhood that I’m guessing sweets became something my nonnas delegated to the professionals.
There wasn’t a homemade crostata di marmellata, but there was almost always a brown bakery box tied with string sitting in the pantry or on the kitchen table.
While we wait for fresh summer fruit to come into season, jam tarts come to the rescue. Try to use really good quality preserves, the kind with lots of visible fruit and not a ton of sugar. Hint – the fruit or berry flavoring the jam should be the first ingredient listed, followed soon after by sugar.
If you’re lucky to get your hands on homemade jam, this has your name on it.
2 1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 ½ sticks (3/4 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into ¼-inch cubes
1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
¼ cup whole milk
2 cups good quality wild blueberry preserves (or other fruit)
- To make the crust, pulse the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in a food processor 3 or 4 times to blend; scatter the butter over the flour and process until the mixture looks sandy and you can’t see any butter chunks.
- Whisk together the egg, yolk and milk; add to the flour mixture and pulse a few times until the dough just begins to come together (but not until the mixture forms a ball over the blade which will toughen the dough). Add some ice water drop by drop if it seems dry. Remove the dough from the workbowl and knead it gently to form a ball. Flatten it into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator about 1 hour until firm but not hard. If the dough gets too cold and seems hard, leave it out for 15 minutes until it’s workable.
- Lightly dust the dough with flour and put it on a lightly floured surface (a smooth countertop is ideal). Slice off 1/3 of the dough and set it aside, covered loosely with a floured towel.
- Place the remaining 2/3 dough between two large pieces of lightly floured parchment paper or plastic wrap and roll out to a 12-inch diameter circle. Carefully peel off the parchment, roll the dough onto the rolling pin and unroll over a 9-inch tart pan. Press the dough into the pan and up the sides, trimming the top edges of the dough flush with the pan by running the rolling pin over the top.
- Spread the jam evenly over the tart.
- To make the lattice, roll the reserved 1/3 portion of the dough on a floured surface to 3/8-inch thickness. Cut into ½-inch wide strips with a fluted pastry cutter or small, sharp knife.
- Lay the strips in a diagonal lattice pattern over the tart, starting in the center with the longest piece, trimming if necessary. Pinch the dough where the edges meet around the diameter of the pan. Put the tart in the refrigerator and chill 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake 30 minutes, or until the lattice is golden brown and the jam is bubbling.
- Cool to room temperature before serving.
A version of this post was contributed to Go Bold with Butter. All opinions are my own.
Bom-bo-LONI: It’s a fantastic combination of vowels and consonants, don’t you think? Not only do I love to roll the sound of the word around, I’m once again wandering into deep-frying territory with these crazy-good Italian filled doughnuts.
I won’t lie; going to the trouble of deep-fat frying combined with having to mess with a piping bag lies right outside my comfort zone of carefree cooking, and right up next to pain-in-the-culo.
I brainstorm and then procrastinate ideas for a small mobile business (more than a few have taken my gelato truck and driven away with it)…why not a Bombolini Bus? Or maybe something more bricks and mortar; like The Bombolini Bar – a hole-in-the-wall serving up fresh, hot doughnut holes alongside cold glasses of pink Prosecco.
It doesn’t seem likely I’ll be doing that anytime soon, but if you do, please invite me to your grand opening.
In the meantime, I have to admit it was worth the effort to make homemade doughnuts. My kids really had no idea, no benchmark, for fresh, real doughnuts in a landscape saturated with drive-through junk.
If you take the doughnut plunge, definitely plan to make these when there are enough people around to devour them right as they’re done. Although they are nicely, manageably bite-sized, that also translates into all the more easy to make disappear.
I “tested” a good half dozen bomboloni before I realized I would be depleting the entire output of the recipe if I kept going. So you’ve been warned.
If using cherry preserves, mash or puree to remove pieces of fruit that may clog the pastry tip.
The bomboloni are wonderful plain too, if you don't want to go the trouble of filling them. Another option - split them in half and spoon over preserves or filling of your choice.
1 tablespoon instant yeast
3/4 cup lukewarm milk (heat in microwave)
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg (optional)
¼ cup softened butter
¾ cup granulated sugar, plus more for coating
4 – 6 cups neutral tasting olive oil or other vegetable oil
1 cup cherry preserves and/or 1 cup pastry cream (recipe below)
- Dissolve the yeast with the milk in a medium bowl; stir in 1 cup of the flour. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it proof until bubbly, about 1 hour.
- Whisk together the remaining flour with the salt and nutmeg in a bowl.
- Beat the butter in a standing mixer with the paddle attachment until creamy, about 30 seconds; add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at time, until blended.
- Add the yeast mixture along with the flour mixture. Mix on medium speed until the flour is incorporated and a soft dough that pulls away from the side of the bowl forms, 2 or 3 minutes. Transfer the dough to a lightly buttered bowl, cover and leave at room temperature 1 hour. (The dough can also be refrigerated up to one day ahead of frying at this point – leave out for one hour before proceeding.
- Place the dough on a floured surface and pat or roll it out ½-inch thick. Cut out circles using a 1 ½ - 2-inch diameter biscuit cutter; arrange the doughnuts on a baking sheet, lightly cover with a towel and let them rise for an hour.
- Pour oil to a depth of 4 inches in a heavy pot or saucepan (I used a 3-quart All Clad) and heat to 350 degrees.
- Drop the doughnuts into the oil 3 or 4 at a time. Fry until puffed and golden all over, turning once. Remove the doughnuts as they’re done and immediately roll them in sugar, then onto a rack to cool.
- Put the jam and/or pastry cream in a piping bag or a sealable plastic bag fitted with a plain pastry tip. Gently poke a hole into each doughnut with a wide skewer (or use the pastry tip) and fill each bomboloni. Serve freshly made.
*To make pastry cream, heat 1 ½ cups whole milk and a vanilla bean broken in half, until it comes to a boil. Whisk 4 egg yolks, 1/3 cup sugar and a pinch of salt in a bowl until thickened; sift over ¼ cup flour and stir it in. Scoop out a few tablespoons of the boiling milk and whisk into the eggs; then pour the eggs into the milk. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the cream is thickened to the texture of mayonnaise. Remove from heat and stir in 1 tablespoon butter. Strain into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate until cold. Stir in some heavy cream to thin before piping, if needed.