Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Jam crostata (tart) with kamut shortcrust

Jam crostata (tart) with kamut shortcrust

I have already said how much I like crostata (the Italian tart) in a previous post where I have also shared some basic technical information on how to make pasta frolla, the Italian shortcrust pastry (follow this link to read more) along with one of my favorite recipes.
Since crostata, in any possible form, is a family favorite, and the simplest version - with a jam filling - is the kind of breakfast we all prefer, I make it regularly. What I like to do is to change, in a sort of rotation, not only the jam flavor but also the ingredients for the crust (as for the preparation technique, my favorite is the "crumble technique" explained, with other methods, in the above mentioned post). 
As I said in that post about crostata (see here) there are many different recipes even for the basic pasta frolla, and among all them I have two or three favorites that I alternatively use. But I also like to make more original variants, using different types of flour or sugar and / or replacing butter for extra virgin olive oil.

I have already shared on the blog an "alternative" version of crostata, suitable also for vegan diets, made with spelt flour and extra-virgin olive oil (recipe here); also on the February issue of Food e Mag (a lovely e-magazine by UAE based bloggers) you can find an even healthier, and again vegan, variation where sugar is replaced by honey, butter by extra-virgin olive oil and white flour by whole grain spelt flour (follow this link for the recipe).

The recipe I am going to share today is the most recent addition to the list of my favorite shortcrust pastry doughs, and in particular to the non-conventional - and healthier - ones.
The main peculiarity is the use of 100% whole grain korasan (aka kamut) flour.
Korasan is an ancient variety of wheat, whose origins are still unclear and permeated with legend. Its use on a wide scale is relatively recent, as it dates back just to the second half of the last century: the grain reached the USA in 1949, but gained interest between the 70's and the 90's when two farmers from Montana decided first to cultivate this ancient grain and then to register the wheat variety (the turanicum variety QK-77) as the trademark Kamut ®.

From a nutritional point of view Kamut is higher in protein (about 30%) and many minerals - especially selenium, zinc, and magnesium - than modern wheat; it is also richer in fatty acids, so that it can be considered as high energy grain. All good things for our health! 
But since this wheat is a relatively recent addition to our modern diet, there aren't many scientific studies on the real benefits of eating kamut vs normal wheat.
From the taste point of view, anyway, this cereal is very interesting and peculiar, being characterized by a rich buttery and nutty flavor. I love both the texture and the aroma that kamut flour adds to baked goods, both sweet and savory (kamut can replace all or part of the all purpose flour in almost all recipes); in the grain form, it is also a delicious alternative to other varieties of grain, like rice, spelt, barley, etc. or even quinoa.
Jam crostata (tart) with kamut shortcrust

In this recipe I also substituted white sugar with unrefined cane sugar, which adds a more rustic texture. 
I really loved this crostata, probably just lightly healthier than a traditional version but absolutely delicious thanks to the peculiar flavor of kamut as well as a bit of crunchiness given by the whole-grain flour. 
Will definitively make again, and I will also try to replace butter for oil (even if - and maybe I have already written somewhere in the blog - the flavor of butter in desserts is inimitable).
Of course this pastry dough can be used not only for the jam tart, but also for any other tart or pie with a shortcrust pastry base as well as for cookies.

A final comment before going to the recipe. While kamut in grains is available in several supermarkets in Dubai, the flour is not so easy to find. I buy mine at the Bio Organic Store in Tecom (if anybody knows another shop selling kamut flour, please do let me know).
When living in Italy it was available in all stores / chains selling organic food as well as in several specialty stores and supermarkets.
Jam crostata (tart) with kamut shortcrust

Jam crostata (tart) with kamut shortcrust
makes one 20 cm Æ tartes  
250 g whole- grain korasan (kamut) flour
125 g butter, chilled and cubed
110 g granulated unrefined cane sugar
1 whole small egg  + 1 yolks (or 1 large egg)
2 g baking powder
zest of 1/2 large lemon (organic, not waxed, if possible)
seed of 1/2 vanilla bean (or 1 tsp pure vanilla extract)
your favorite jam or marmalade (about 250 g for one 20 Æ cm tarte)
Add the flour  and baking powder to a medium mixing bowl. Add in the cubed butter and, using your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour until you get a crumbly mixture and there are no more visible pieces of butter.  Mix in the sugar and then lemon zest.  Lightly beat the egg yolks and whole egg with a pinch of salt and the vanilla seeds or extract. Using a knife or your fingers, mix the beaten eggs into the flour - butter mixture until the pastry comes together into a ball.
When preparing the pastry it is important that everything is cold: keep your hands cool, or use the blades of two knives or a pastry scrapers for mixing the ingredients; alternatively ingredients can be mixed using a food processor.
Once the dough comes into a ball, wrap it in plastic film and refrigerated for one day (or anyway for at least 1 hour).
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
After resting, on a lightly floured counter, rapidly work then roll out half of the pastry  to 4 - 5 mm thickness (since the dough is quite delicate you may need to roll it between two sheets of baking paper);  gently transfer the rolled pastry to a buttered and floured 20 cm round tart pan cutting out the excess pastry (I recommend to make a thicker border for the tart by rolling the excess pastry into a thin rope, then placing it around the edges of the tart pan).
Prick the base with a fork and fill it with jam.
Roll out the excess pastry and cut into strips, about 1cm wide and place them over the top to create a lattice.
Bake at 180°C for about 25 to 30 minutes or until golden on top. Once baked, the pastry should be golden, but still soft: it will crisp up slightly as it cools. Let cool in the pan before transferring to a serving plate.


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