Crostata di Marmellata is one of our favorite Italian desserts to eat here in Italy and lucky for us, you can find them just about anywhere! There are two components in this recipe for crostata: ‘pasta frolla’ (a forgiving easy-to-make rich and crumbly shortcrust pastry) and jam. But don’t let the simplicity of this jam tart recipe fool you — it’s delicious! I’ve used cherry marmellata for this cherry crostata recipe, but any jam will do.
In this post, you’ll find crostata step-by-step photos, a short how-to-make crostata video, and tips for how to make the best jam tart below.
What is Crostata (Italian Jam Tart)?
Jam tarts (or ‘Italian crostate’) are one of the most popular desserts found across Italy. Every pastry shop, restaurant, trattoria, grocery store, nonna, and Zia has a recipe. It’s considered to be a rustic dessert because you don’t need many ingredients to make it and it doesn’t need to look pretty to taste amazing — and it’s deceptively delicious.
The best Italian crostata is made with sweet jam (homemade is great, but not mandatory) and a soft Italian shortcrust pastry dough that you can easily cut through using a fork. It’s not common in Italy to find crostate with a crispy (pie-like) crust. In fact, we’ve never eaten crostata with a crispy crust, but this is the closest thing to an Italian pie recipe you’ll find here. Take a look at the photos below to see what a real crostata in Italy looks like — you can see we’ve definitely eaten our fair share!
How to Pronounce Crostata
Crostata in English literally means ‘tart’. And the crostata pronunciation sounds like ‘croh-stahta’ or ‘crow-stah-ta’. Crostata with an ‘a’ at the end means one single jam tart. While the ‘crostate’ with an ‘e’ at the end is the plural form of crostata and means you’re talking about more than one crostata.
Traditional Crostata Flavors You’ll Find in Italy
The most common crostata flavor you will find in Italy is Apricot (albicoccia), but other common crostata varieties include Raspberry crostata (lampone), Cherry crostata , (ciliega), warm Apple crostata (mele), Nutella crostata, strawberry crostata (fragola), chocolate crostata, and even Plum crostata (prugna). But don’t let these delicious flavors limit you!
Branch out with more unusual crostata recipes like my strawberry cheesecake crostata, caramel apple crostata (perfect fall dessert), apple cranberry crostata, blackberry crostata, fig crostata, and strawberry-rhubarb crostata.
Why We Love This Authentic Italian Crostata Recipe
- It’s one of the easiest desserts you’ll ever make
- It tastes just like what you buy here in Italy
- Pasta frolla shortcrust dough is ready in minutes (no cutting the fat into the flour required)
- There are just 9 ingredients in this crostata (and that includes salt)
- Easy kid-friendly dessert recipe
- This pasta frolla (shortcrust) recipe is really easy to roll and cut
- Crostata can be meal prepped ahead and refrigerated or frozen
What is Italian Pasta Frolla (aka Crostata Crust)?
Pasta frolla (aka crostata dough) is a rich and crumbly sweet shortcrust pastry dough that’s made with 00 flour, sugar, egg, egg yolks, baking powder, vanilla, lemon zest, and salt). It can be soft (as in this recipe) or not as soft depending on the different desserts it’s being used for.
It’s made in just minutes using a stand mixer, handheld mixer, or food processor which is why some people refer to it as ‘stand mixer pie crust’. You can substitute all-purpose flour or cake flour for the 00 flour in this pasta frolla recipe.
Italy’s pasta frolla is similar to France’s pâte sucrée but is more cookie-like in texture and it’s rolled out thicker than French tartelettes too. It’s important to refrigerate crostata dough so that it can firm up which makes it really easy to roll out.
The great thing about pasta frolla — it doesn’t break when you’re trying to roll it out which is what makes it a great beginner pastry dough (even for kids). You can even your kids press this dough into the tart pan instead of rolling it out and it will still yield delicious results they can be proud of.
How to Use Italian Shortcrust Pastry and Great Fillings For It
The fillings for pasta frolla and the ways to use this sweet Italian pastry dough are endless! Shortcrust pastry can be filled with just about anything from Nutella to homemade strawberry jam, sweetened ricotta, and even pastry cream topped with fruit to make ‘crostata di frutta’ (fresh fruit crostata).
You can even use pasta frolla dough to make jam tart cookies (see below) or to make the best dessert pizza dough or apple strudel.
Making great Italian crostata at home is easy and uses the most basic pantry ingredients. I suggest using Italian 00 flour because it has a finer texture than all-purpose flour which creates a nicely-textured shortcrust pastry, but cake flour also works well and even all-purpose can be used. I also recommend using a scale to weigh the ingredients if you have one.
- Italian 00 flour (sub all-purpose or cake flour)
- baking powder
- unsalted butter
- egg/egg yolk
- pure vanilla extract
- lemon zest
- fruit jam of your choice (cherry in this post)
How to Make Crostata (Crostata Italiana)
Homemade crostata can be made in just about any kind of shallow baking pan (even a pie plate) or without any baking pan at all! If you want to make a freeform rustic crostata (see photo down below) it’s even quicker to pull together (check out the recipe notes for instructions)! Use whatever you’ve got — even make a cast iron crostata. You can find the full instructions below in the recipe card.
- Butter and flour a tart pan.
- Measure and whisk the dry ingredients.
- Make the pasta frolla shortcrust and refrigerate it.
- Roll out the crostata bottom layer, add it to the tart pan, and fill it with jam.
- Roll and cut the lattice top and heart cutouts.
- Assemble the crostata.
- Bake the crostata.
Crostata di Marmellata Recipe step-by-step photos
Crostata Troubleshooting (Helpful Tips & Techniques)
This Italian dessert is incredibly easy to make, but I’ve included my best tips below to make it even easier.
- Make sure the dough is completely chilled before rolling it out or it will be difficult because this is a soft dough.
- If you have kiddos who are small but want to help, let them press in the dough instead of rolling it out, just be sure to chill the filled tart pan for at least 2 hours before filling it and baking it.
- If you want a “perfect-looking” crostata, place the fully assembled crostata back into the fridge for at least 20 minutes before baking (and even up to 6 hours). This will make sure the edges of the lattice top stay “clean” while baking. I baked my crostata immediately after assembling and while it doesn’t have perfectly “clean-cut” edges, it’s still pretty. You decide based on your schedule and desired look.
- Do not be tempted to add more than the amount of jam called for. You can add 1 cup for a slightly less jammy crostata, or 1 1/2 cups for a little more fruit flavor in every bite. But adding 2 cups or more jam can result in the jam bubbling up and out of the tart like hot lava as it bakes (believe me, I’ve done it before).
- Don’t be tempted to skip using the lemon zest in the pasta frolla. This is part of what gives crostata its authentic Italian taste (it’s so good). The dough is delicious without the zest, but it won’t be a real Italian tart without it.
- If the dough gets too soft as you’re rolling it out, pop it back into the fridge for 20 minutes or so to help firm it back up, and then continue.
- Don’t be afraid to use extra flour on the work surface and the rolling pin as needed to help keep the pastry from sticking as you roll.
- Italian 00 flour is what’s used for authentic pasta frolla, but you can substitute all-purpose or cake flour.
When to Eat Crostata
Here in Italy, crostata di marmellata is typically eaten for merenda (which is an afternoon snack usually taken sometime around 4pm), as an after-dinner dessert, or for breakfast with espresso.
How to Store Jam Tarts (Crostate di Marmellata)
Crostata never lasts long at our house, but if you have any leftovers, here is the best way to store homemade jam tarts:
- Store at room temperature for up to 3 days if desired as long as it’s a fairly cool environment, otherwise refrigerate it.
- Store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days wrapped well, or in an airtight container so it doesn’t absorb odors from strong ingredients.
- Store in the freezer for up to 3 or 4 months wrapped very well in sustainable cling film and placed in an airtight container or freezer bag. You may defrost in the refrigerator overnight, or for a few hours at room temperature with all of the wrappings completely removed first (which will keep it from having condensation as it thaws).
Looking for More Crostata Recipes?
Here are a couple of our favorite crostatas you may want to try next
- Easy Italian Strawberry Crostata (Crostata di Marmellata di Fragole)
- Best Ever All-Natural Strawberry Cheesecake Crostata
Looking for More Italian Dessert Recipes?
Here are a few of our favorite authentic Italian desserts to make — everything from classic vanilla bean panna cotta to real-deal Sicilian cannoli. These recipes are
- Authentic Italian Cannoli with Homemade Shells and Filling (Cannoli Siciliani)
- Torta Di Mela (Easy & Delicious Italian Apple Cake)
- White Chocolate Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta
- Homemade Limoncello (The Italian Way)
- How to Make Colomba Pasquale (Sweet Italian Easter Dove Bread)