Italian Crostata

Italian crostata

You’ll agree that all Italian desserts are associated with specific places. For example, tiramisu smells like an expensive restaurant, gelato is inextricably linked with a summer cafe, and panna cotta is a staple of a noisy party. Our treat today is fragrant with the aromas of a country house and the warmth of grandmother’s hands.

It’s called Crostata – an Italian open pie, made of shortbread dough and filling. Its recipe appeared on the territory of the republic so long ago that it is considered the eldest in its category of dishes. What is crostata and how to prepare it at home, you will learn from our article.

Italian Crostata

Who is the author – a nun or a mermaid?

The origin of crostata is linked to a very beautiful legend. It is said that the inhabitants of Naples (Napoli) decided to thank the mermaid Parthenope for her sweet songs, bringing exquisite gifts: flour – a symbol of strength and wealth; cottage cheese – painstaking work; eggs – the renewal of life; wheat in milk – the symbiosis of two worlds; flower water – the generosity of nature; sugar and spices, as an image of sweet singing. The mermaid laid the gifts at the feet of the gods, who returned them in the form of a sweet pie.

Another, more realistic version asserts that the crostata was invented by a nun in the ancient monastery of San Gregorio Armeno. The woman linked the pie to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Hence the custom to bake and eat it on Good Friday.

Another episode in the life of the crostata is related to the Bourbon family. Once, the carriage of the Marquis de Rubis, while traveling through Naples, fell into a hole, damaging the wheel. It was night, so the unfortunate ones had to ask for shelter in a family of farmers. They greeted the unexpected guests with a sweet pie. The Marquis was delighted with the dessert and took the recipe for the royal table.

This “cozy” pastry not only won over tastes, but also did the impossible. Everyone knew that Queen Maria Theresa of Austria, wife of King Ferdinand II of Bourbon, never smiled. On the festive day of the Resurrection of Christ, the noble lady yielded to her husband’s persuasions and tasted the sweet pastry. A smile blossomed on her face. The occasion was adorned with a joke by the witty ruler. He noted, “My wife was given a smile by the crostata. Now I’ll have to wait for the next Easter to see her laughing again!”


There are endless variations of both sweet and savory crostatas. The former are served as desserts, while the latter can be served as a main dish.

Сrostata di frutta

In sweet treats, fruit purees are often used as a filling: apricot, cherry, peach, berry, plum, quince. Sometimes they first bake an empty base, which is then filled with custard cream, topped with pieces of fresh fruit – this version is called crostata di frutta (fruit crostata).

crostata with nutella

One of the modern types of dessert is the crostata alla nutella (pie filled with the famous nutty chocolate paste).

Crostata with ricotta

In central Italy, the crostata di ricotta is particularly popular. The filling for it is made from ricotta with sugar and lemon zest. Although a variation with added cocoa and raisins is also possible.

salted crostata

Ingredients for savory crostatas can include meat, fish, and vegetables, which are pre-cooked. In the recipe book “Opera dell’arte del cucinare” there is a version of the pie with crab and shrimp meat.

Homemade Recipe

There isn’t a single recipe for making crostata. But out of all the variety, we will highlight the best options for you to create wonders right in your kitchen.

We will offer two versions of the base for the pie: a classic and a fasting or vegetarian one. The latter does not contain animal products such as eggs and butter.

Classic Crostata Base Recipe

So, for the classic crostata, we will need:

  • Wheat flour – 300 g;
  • Sugar – 120 g;
  • Butter – 150 g;
  • Chicken egg – 1 pc.;
  • Yolk – 1 pc.;
  • Salt – a pinch.

The preparation of the base starts with sifting the flour and mixing it with salt and sugar. We cut the butter into small cubes and combine it with the sugar-flour mass. We thoroughly mix everything until large crumbs form. Then we beat an egg and yolk into the center of the future dough and knead until a compact texture is obtained. We form a ball, wrap it in cling film, and send it to the refrigerator for half an hour.

We grease a round baking dish (about 24 cm in diameter) with butter. Roll out the ready dough to a thickness of about 5 mm, carefully wrap it on a rolling pin, and transfer it to the mold. We adjust the base to the capacity and roll the rolling pin over the edges of the walls to cut off the excess.

Making crosta at home

To make sure the pie is well baked, we carefully but frequently prick the base’s bottom with a fork. We distribute the filling, the variants of which we will present below. From the remnants of the dough, we form strips about 1 cm wide and decorate the pie with a lattice pattern.

We bake the classic crostata in an oven preheated to 180 degrees for 30-35 minutes.

Fasting or Vegetarian Base

Not only ordinary sweet tooth can enjoy the delicious Italian pie, but also vegetarians, as well as Christians who observe fasting. And, if it’s pretty simple to decide on the filling, you need to know the base recipe for sure.

Necessary ingredients:

  • Wheat flour – 400 g;
  • Vegetable oil – 70 ml;
  • Sugar – 80 g;
  • Cold water – 140-150 ml;
  • Baking powder – 1 tsp;
  • Salt – a pinch;
  • Zest of one lemon.

Vegetarian crostat base

On a work surface, combine flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and lemon zest. Add the oil and knead thoroughly, gradually introducing cold water. The dough turns out to be compact but soft and elastic. We wrap the formed ball in cling film and send it to the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

The rest of the process for preparing the fasting crostata does not differ from the classic version.

Having chosen the base recipe, it is necessary to decide on the filling. There are a huge number of them for the dessert. If you prefer simplicity and conciseness, you can stop at any fruit, berry puree, or jam. For lovers of culinary experiments, we will describe the most extravagant and popular versions.

Crostata With Strawberry and Custard

Italian crostata with strawberries is always made in tandem with custard. For it, we will need:

  • Egg yolks – 4 pcs.;
  • Flour – 40 g;
  • Sugar – 100 g;
  • Milk – 400 ml;
  • Vanilla pod.

Crostata with strawberries and custard

About 500 g of fresh strawberries will be used for this amount of cream.

We start the filling when the dough is ready in the refrigerator. Whisk the yolks with sugar. Add flour, mix, and cook over low heat with a vanilla pod for about 5 minutes. Remove the spice and gradually pour in the milk, without removing the pan from the heat. Continue the process until the cream thickens. To avoid lumps, the mass needs to be constantly stirred with a whisk.

Spread the cooled cream over the raw base in the container and bake at 180 degrees for 30 minutes. While the pie is cooking, we wash the strawberries and cut them into slices about 5 mm thick.

On the baked crostata, we lay out the strawberries in a circle (not horizontally, but slightly inserting the base of the slice into the cream). As a result, we get something like a blooming flower.

To keep the pastry longer, you can cover it with a thin layer of gelatin. Just prepare a gelatin solution following the instructions on the package, and distribute it over the berry surface with a silicone brush. It is important that the strawberry crostata should be stored in the refrigerator.

Crostata with Cherry

At first glance, a simple crostata with cherries in its preparation requires a lot of patience. The filling contains the following components:

  • Fresh cherries – 1 kg;
  • Cherry jam – 350 g;
  • Sugar – 100 g;
  • Zest of one lemon.

Crostata with cherry

First, we prepare the cherries: wash, cut in half, and remove the pit. Mix the berries with sugar in a thick-bottomed pan and cook until almost all the liquid is removed (about half an hour).

The first layer on the base is jam, then prepared cherries, and sprinkle with lemon zest. Bake this delicacy for 40-45 minutes or until the edges become golden brown.

The crostata with cherries is stored at room temperature, covered with a lid or foil, for no more than 3-4 days.

Lemon Crostata

Lemon crostata is considered the most perfect lemon pie. Not too sour and not too sweet, while the creamy, velvety taste is gently wrapped in a citrus veil. For the filling, they use not just lemons with sugar or jam, but prepare a special cream. It includes the following ingredients:

  • Water – 250 g;
  • Sugar – 160 g;
  • Lemon juice – 50 g;
  • Potato starch – 50 g;
  • Butter – 50 g;
  • Zest of one lemon.

In the case of lemon crostata, the base is baked in advance, placing parchment on it and a press from peas or rice grains.

While the dough is baking, we prepare the cream. Combine sugar with starch and zest. Gradually introduce water, stirring thoroughly. Put the pan on low heat and cook for about 5 minutes until jelly-like. Turn off the heat and add the lemon juice, then the crushed butter.

lemon crostata

Spread the warm cream over the slightly cooled base and level the surface with a knife. Lemon crostata is eaten cold. For which it is previously placed in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

The described fillings can be adjusted to your taste. For example, replace strawberries with apples, cherries with any berries, lemons will give way to other citrus fruits. Fans of dairy products will prefer crostata with cottage cheese, for which the latter is mixed with sugar and egg yolks. In general, the recipe for the filling of an Italian dessert is a boundless expanse for your imagination.

Calorie Content

The calorie content of baked goods directly depends on the chosen filling. On average, it ranges from 350 to 450 kcal per 100 grams of product. For example, a crostata with fruit jam contains about 420 kcal, which are composed of:

  • Proteins 0.9 g;
  • Fats 16.5 g;
  • Carbohydrates 71.7 g.

As you can see, the main energy load falls on carbohydrates. Therefore, people with diabetes and overweight should refrain from consuming the delicacy.

Calorie content of crostata

To reduce the calories in your prepared dish, reduce the amount of sugar and use low-fat dairy products. But the best choice will be to limit the portion and engage in physical activity. For example, arrange an hour-long bike ride.

That’s all about the pie with the taste of countryside life. You can surprise your loved ones with a new crostata for a very long time. Don’t be afraid of experiments, live without borders, and remember: “You can’t spoil a crostata with filling!”

As an ardent lover of Italy and its rich culinary heritage, I have dedicated years immersing myself in the realm of Italian cuisine. My fascination doesn't stop at savoring every dish, but extends to unraveling the essence of each recipe. My passion has led me to experiment, recreate, and perfect traditional meals in my own kitchen. I thrive in my endless journey of discovering the subtle nuances and diverse regional flavors that define the soul of Italian cooking.

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