Last week I attended the 5th birthday party of Band of Bakers, a south London club open to anyone with a love for baking wishing to get together to share chats and cakes. In the hope to inspire other bakers to try Italian recipes, I made Rachel Roddy’s jam tart with homemade strawberry jam and ricotta cheese.
Rachel Roddy is a Rome-based British food writer whose first cookbook Five Quarters: Recipes and Notes from a Kitchen in Rome came out two years ago to popular acclaim.
Rachel started her career in food writing with a blog, Rachel Eats, in which she shared her favourite Italian recipes and her life in the bustling Testaccio neighbourhood of Rome.
After the blog, came the cookbook: Five Quarters. This is a wonderful and captivating book which has won the Guild of Food Writers First Book Award in 2015. I loved reading it and imagine myself cooking and baking in a kitchen in my beloved hometown of Rome.
My mum used to bake jam tarts often when I was a kid (I am sure she still does nowadays even though I don’t live with her anymore). I love making tarts too from time to time.
We call this tart “crostata” in Italian. It is made with a buttery pastry base and jam, so it’s very simple yet delicious. It’s an “all day every day” cake, which you can have for dessert or for an afternoon treat. In Italy, we eat it for breakfast as well!
I love Rachel Roddy’s jam tart with a layer of ricotta cheese; it’s a nice twist to the classic recipe. It’s almost like a baked cheesecake with the buttery base, cheese filling and sweet fruity flavours of strawberries. With the addition of ricotta cheese, this tart is even more comforting and richer.
Tip: double the pastry ingredients to make extra dough and keep it in the freezer, so next time you can make the tart in just one hour. Use the pastry dough to make custard cream tart with fresh berries or jam and cream tart or even just shortbread biscuits.
For the dough
- 150g cold unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
- 350g plain flour, sifted (plus more for dusting the counter)
- 100g caster sugar
- a pinch of salt
- zest of 1 unwaxed lemon
- 2 free-range eggs
- 1 egg for brushing the pastry
For the filling
- 250g strawberry jam
- 350g fresh ricotta cheese
- 50g caster sugar
- 1 free-range egg
Sift the flour into a large bowl. Cut the butter into small dice and add it to the bowl. Working quickly with cold hands, rub the butter into the flour until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the sugar, salt and lemon zest and toss everything together. In a small bowl, lightly beat 2 eggs with a fork, then add them to the other ingredients. Use your hands to bring everything together to a smooth, consistent dough. Wrap the dough in cling film and leave it in the fridge to rest for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan. Grease a 24-cm tart tin.
In a medium bowl, mix together the ricotta cheese, sugar and egg until smooth. Set aside.
On a lightly floured work surface, roll two-thirds of the pastry dough into a round about ½ cm thick and a little larger than the tin. Lift the pastry into the tin using the rolling pin and press it gently into the corners. Trim off the excess around the edge. Prick the pastry base with a fork.
Spread out the jam onto the pastry, then cover with the ricotta mixture.
Roll out the remaining 1/3 of pastry and cut it into strips, then use these to criss-cross the tart.
Beat the remaining egg in a small bowl, and then brush it over the strips and edges of the tart using a pastry brush.
Place the tin in the preheated oven and bake for about 40 minutes or until the pastry is browned. Leave it to cool down for 10 minutes. Remove from the tin and store in an airtight container.
Optional: dust with icing sugar before serving. I prefer this tart at room temperature rather than warm.
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of Five Quarters to review. All opinions are my own.