Figs are my favorite Italian summer fruit, and I get my fill of them when traveling to Italy. Growing up in Calabria, we had several fig trees of various kinds, and we were lucky that they often produced more fruit than we could keep up with. What is a frugal Italian to do when there’s more fruit than we can enjoy, even after sharing with friends and neighbors? But conserve it, of course! Fig jam was always prepared at the end of the summer, when the trees were still bursting with fruit, but by that point, we were tired of eating them! By fall, when baking season rolled around, we’d often bake fruit filled cookies or tarts with those precious jars of preserves.
This one is one of my favorites to prepare this time of year. Rare is a Thanksgiving or Christmas where a fig jam crostata isn’t on the table. It’s an all-around, never disappoints dessert. It’s perfect for after dinner, with an espresso or glass of Vin Santo, it goes great with afternoon tea as a pick-me-up, and yes, I’ve enjoyed a slice or two for breakfast with my morning coffee. Especially during the holiday season, it seems more forgiving to have sweets for breakfast.
Fig Jam Crostata
11 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cups sugar
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks (separated)
2½ all-purpose cups flour (plus extra for dusting)
Zest of 1 orange or 1 lemon
2 teaspoons baking powder
1-2 tablespoons milk (use only if needed, see note below)
1 14 - 15 oz jar (optional: 3 additional tablespoons fig jam) (see note below.)
Note #1: If the dough is dry, add 1-2 tablespoons of milk. Amount will depend on the softness of butter, and if the eggs you are using are on the smaller side. You may not need any milk at all to have a formed and cohesive dough.)
Note #2: Note: I prefer a thicker layer of jam, so I generally use one full 14 oz jar, plus a few additional tablespoons from a second jar. If you only have one jar of jam, you can use just that, and the filling will be a bit thinner.
Mix soft butter with sugar.
Add whole egg plus 1 egg yolk.
All the ingredients have been added. Note that the dough looks rather crumbly. Use your hands and the dough will come together. Add 1 – 2 tablespoons milk if the dough is too dry.
The dough after working it with my hands about 1 minute. I did not need any milk today.
2/3 of the dough has been pressed in the pan and docked with a fork
Spread a layer of jam evenly on top.
Topped with the strips of remaining dough.
Brushed with the egg wash. Ready for the oven!
Just out of the oven!
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