So different in conception from the typical French fruit tart, which has a flaky crust, pastry cream filling, and fruit, this Italian one concentrates on the fruit itself, aligning it in straight rows on a round or square crust.
The type of fruit you use depends on the season, the types available, and your own preferences. The crostata can be very striking with only two types of fruit or with a different fruit in every row. Use berries and other soft fruit; apples, pears, and other hard fruit will oxidize and turn brown.
The dough used here, as in the Torta di Noci d’Aosta, has a cakelike texture, making a tender base for the fruit topping.
For the pasta frolla, beat the butter until soft, then beat in the sugar in a stream, either by hand, with a hand mixer set at medium speed, or in a heavy-duty mixer fitted with the paddle. Continue beating until the mixture lightens. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating until the mixture is very smooth and light. Beat in the flour until it is absorbed, without overmixing.
To form the base for the crostata, butter a
For the apricot filling/glaze, combine the preserves and rum in a saucepan and bring to a boil over low heat, stirring often. Strain into another pan to eliminate pulp. Just before assembling the crostata, return the mixture to low heat and allow to reduce until sticky, about 5 to 10 minutes.
To assemble the crostata, release the sides of the spring-form pan and slide the base of the pan onto a cutting board. If you have made a square base, invert onto a plate and reinvert onto a board. Paint the surface with the filling. Arrange the fruit in rows on the base, using one type of fruit per row, alternating fruits for contrast of color, as in the illustration. Paint the fruit with the glaze, using a brush. Sprinkle the almonds around the edges of the crostata and dust them lightly with the confectioners’ sugar.
For advance preparation, arrange the fruit on the base and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Glaze the fruit no more than 2 hours before serving.
For an alternate presentation, spread the base with jarred preserves or jam and arrange the fruit on the surface. Just before serving, dust the fruit with the confectioners’ sugar.
© 1990 Nick Malgieri. All rights reserved.