Monday, 5 January 2015

Jam crostata (tarte) with spelt and olive oil crust

Jam crostata with spelt and olive oil crust

Happy new year everyone! I wish you all the best for the just welcomed 2015 and hope that you enjoyed the festive season, whether you spent this time of the year with your loved ones, your friends, never met before people or even on your own.
Christmas of 2014 was my real first Christmas in Dubai; last year, in fact, I had recently arrived and spent most of the Christmas period relocating from the residence where we stayed for about two months to the apartment where we are living now; and the 31st of December was the day when we actually moved to our apartment... I can say it was a peculiar Christmas. This year, on the contrary, we had a more "normal" Christmas - even if anyway much different than the kind of Christmas I was used to when living in Italy (where Christmas mainly meant gathering with my family in my home village, eating my mom's traditional recipes - I misses them this year - and having a rest from work). This year we decorated a Christmas tree, part of my husband's family came to Dubai and spent the Christmas period with us, my son enjoyed for the first time in his life the experience of finding and opening the presents left for him by Santa (or whoever on his behalf) under the Christmas tree, we appreciated some of the many different things that can be done in this city during the festive season and we enjoyed the lovely weather spending time and dining outside (our guests appreciated this much more then me and my family....). I enjoyed this time very much. And I also had the chance to go around the city as a tourist, which I like very much.
I also did some cooking, but absolutely no stressful: we sometimes dined out, sometimes had fun with home-delivered food and sometimes made a simple pasta (Italians are expert in doing a good pasta with few ingredients in less than twenty minutes) with a fresh salad.
As I like to have - and also offer to my guests - something sweet for breakfast, and absolutely prefer homemade goods to store bought stuffs, I prepared several sweet baked goods, among which this healthy, light and delicious jam crostata (the Italian tarte). I love this kind of sweet and make it very often, in different versions. I have already shared the traditional recipe where the shortcrust pastry is made with white flour, white sugar and butter (to get the recipe check this post). The version I am going to share now is completely different but absolutely amazing: nobody can believe it is so guiltless...The shortcrust pastry is made using few, healthy and tasty ingredients: whole-grain spelt flour which adds a pleasant nutty flavor, unrefined cane sugar that gives a rustic texture and a mixture of extra-virgin and corn germ olive oil in place of other fats. No eggs, no milk or other dairy (then good also for those following a vegan diet), nothing else, with the exception of some flavors (vanilla and orange or lemon zests), a bit of baking powder and some water to help the dough come together. The result is above any expectation: I made this tarte so many times that it has become one of my signature sweet goodies. And I never get bored of making it, offering to my guests and eating it. Also I am very happy to give it to my son, who likes it much, as it is the perfect kind of sweet for children, nutritious and healthy. But for the same reasons it is also a perfect recipe for this time of the year; in fact, at the beginning of the new year, and after the festive season (with all its parties, dinners, lunches as well as traditional Christmas recipes, usually rich and not really light) many people wish to eat lighter, healthier, more wholesome food. This recipe perfectly matches all these characteristics and is at the same time as good as many other more "guilty" options.
The shortcrust pastry I used for this crostata is very versatile and can be used in place of other types of sweet pastry for making tartes and tartlets, pies but also cookies, plain or filled with jam or other spreads.
Jam crostata with spelt and olive oil crust

Jam crostata with spelt and olive oil crust
makes one 20 cm Æ tarte  
190 g whole-grain spelt flour
75 g superfine unrefined cane sugar
20 g extra-virgin olive oil
25 g corn germ oil (or other vegetable mild oil)
50 g water
5 g baking powder
zest of 1 unwaxed lemon or orange
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
250 g jam for filling (raspberries, strawberries or mixed red fruits match particularly well with the spelt flavor)
In a medium mixing bowl, dissolve sugar in the water, then add baking powder, vanilla extract, lemon zest and the two types of oil and mix. Add the flour and mix to incorporate. Cover with plastic wrap and transfer in the fridge for at least one hour and up to 24 hours.
After the rest transfer the dough onto a lightly floured counter and rapidly work it with wet hands (if the dough is difficult to work add more water, few drops at a time).
Lightly oil a 20 cm Æ tarte pan with corn germ or olive oil to prevent the tarte from sticking. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Roll out about 3/4 of the pastry to 4 - 5 mm thickness and use it to line the oiled tart pan; cut out the excess pastry using the back of a knife. Prick the base with a fork and spread the jam over the pastry.  Roll out the excess pastry, cut into strips, about 1cm wide, and place them over the top of the tarte to create a lattice.
Bake at 180°C for about 30 minutes or until the top starts browning. As the wholegrain flour has a dark color, it's not very easy to understand when the tarte is done (at least the first time you make it); to avoid under or over-baking also check the doneness with your fingertips: the pastry should be firm and a bit crusty.
Remove from the oven and let completely cool in the pan before transferring to a serving plate.


  1. I would love to experiment with more wholemeal and wholesome pastry crusts. What a great recipe

  2. You have to try! The taste is amazing and it is much healthier than the pastry made with refined flours. Spelt is my favorite together with korasan (aka kamut) which is not so easy to find here in Dubai but deserves a try; but even the wholegrain wheat flour works well! I also love making bread using at least half unrefined flour.