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The Perfect Summer Crostata

Posted in Cooking School in Tuscany, cucina, recipes, Tuscan, and Uncategorized

crostata-di-susine.jpgprugne-susine-tree.jpg copyright, 2008, Maria Liberati

The Basic Art of Italian Cooking by Maria Liberati tm

The plums are growing faster than we can pick them. The summer sun in August is so powerful and the fruit grow quickly. Our helpers picked two trees full of plums on Saturday and the third tree is now full of ripened ‘susine’ (in the US they call them Italian plums) they are small and a light green or yellow color and very sweet and small.

Today with the new susine (Italian plums) we will be getting I will be making the perfect summer ‘crostata’. Crostata is a pie that is shallow  (or shallow comparedto the extremely high pies we make in the US) and a feast for the taste buds. A crostata is usually made with fruit or marmelade or both. However, besides the tasty plums that make this pie special the ‘pasta frolla’ (which is a tasty crust made in Italy) makes this pie in the ultimate. But if you don’t have a lot of time and want to use a pre-made crust you can but the results will not be as tasty. Better yet, make this  crostata when you have a little extra will be well worth it. This recipe comes direct from my cooking school and culinary tour two weeks ago in Tuscany with Velia and  Gian Luca from the Champagneria in Orvieto. It was just as delicious there with the plums picked at the farm there.  I am doing the crostata with the susine/plums from my farm here in Abruzzo today and most likely tomorrow as well (the plums seem to be  in endless supply  on the trees).

Crostata de Susine (Plum Pie) 

(this makes enough for 8 people)

*1 pie crust or pasta frolla recipe that follows

*1 lb of plums or Italian plums

*2 egg whites

*2 tblsps of apricot marmelade

*1 tblsp of pinoli nuts

*grated peel of 1 lemon

*powdered sugar for dusting

*1/4 cup finely ground almonds

Place pre-made pie crust or pasta frolla crust (recipe follows) in  buttered pie pan. Pan should be about 2-3 inches deep. This is typically a shallow pie. Puncture bottom of pie crust with fork. Wash and dry the plums and remove nut inside and cut plums into thin slices.

Blend ground almonds, sugar, lemon peel, egg whites with an electric mixer and beat until soft peaks form. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Brush the apricot marmelade on bottom of crust. Pour in almond mixture. Level mixture with a small knife.  Arrange plum slices on top. Place pinoli nuts around plum slices. Cook for 30-35 minutes. When cool dust with powdered sugar.

 Here is the recipe for the typical Italian crust. We used this for the crostata we did at my first culinary tour in Tuscany a few weks ago at my farm there.  This crust is the secret to making delicious pies, pre made crust has no distinctive flavor, but this crust gives your senses a true delight.  Our next culinary tour will be September of 2009 in Tuscany, if you are interested in more information on the cooking school in Tuscany and the tour there email us at

Pasta Frolla

*10 ounces of butter (unsalted)

*3/4 cup sugar

*2 egg yolks

*1 1/2 cups flour ’00’

*1/4 ounce of powdered yeast

*2 tblsps of potato starch

*grated peel of one lemon

*1 tsp of pure vanilla flavoring

*pinch of salt

If you want to cheat and use a food processor to blend these ingredients you cna first put into the processor  the butter and sugar. When they are well blended add in the next ingredients a little at a time. The processor should have everythign well belnded in about 5-6 minutes. Mixing by hand will take about 20 minutes. When dough is smooth and shiny remove from processor. If dough is sticky to the touch belnd in a pinch of flour with your hands or until dough is not sticky but smooth.  Form the dough into one large ball and place in refrigerator for approximately 3 hours to become firm.

Then roll out on board dusted with flour for a pie crust.  Place crust into buttered pie pan for crostata  recipe above.

For more recipes get your copy of the best selling book The Basic Art of Italian Cooking at

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