If you want to be pedant, this is nothing more than a simple jam tart. You can fill it with the preserve of your choice too (I used my grandma’s apricot jam, which is sweet, treacly and very moreish if compared to those diluted and bright orange replicas you find in shops). What’s peculiar about it is the use of olive oil instead of butter in the shortcrust pastry. This has two immediate consequences. First of all, you don’t need to rub butter in the pastry or chill it before rolling it out. Then, you get very nice and subtle fruity notes provided for by the olive oil, but still retain all that crumbliness and crisp so typical of butter-based shortcrust tarts. Here I used some very good and dense Sicilian olive oil I brought directly from Italy, but a good olive oil would be just as good.
The rationale behind it is that in the old times, in Tuscan homes, butter was relatively unknown and considered too costly and stodgy to be used in food. On the other hand, olive oil was the staple of the local diet and used abundantly in both sweet and savoury dishes. This recipe is from the La Vialla estate, a farm and wine paradise located in the middle of the Tuscan countryside. The recipe also featured in the September issue of the delicious. magazine. I have slightly adapted it while making it.
- 80ml extra virgin olive oil
- 350g plain flour
- 150g golden caster sugar
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- zest of 1 lemon
- 2 medium eggs, beaten
- 1 tbsp Marsala wine
- 350g of your favourite jam
- icing sugar (optional)
- Grease and flour a 23cm fluted tart tin, then set aside. Preheat the oven to 160C.
- In a large bowl, mix the flour, golden caster sugar and baking powder. Measure out the olive oil in a jug, then add the eggs and the Marsala. Pour the liquid ingredients into the bowl, then add the lemon zest. Mix using a wooden spoon until just combined, then use your hands to bring the pastry together.
- Take a third of the pastry and reserve it for the top. Gather the rest of it in a ball and put it on a heavily floured work surface (the pastry will stick because of the oil). Roll it out to a circle the thickness of a pound coin, then line the greased and floured tin. Ensure the pastry fits snugly in the tin, then prick the base with a fork.
- Spread the jam in an even layer on the pastry shell.
- Now take the reserved pastry and roll that out to the thickness of a pound coin. Using a very sharp knife, cut long strips of pastry, then lace them on top of the jam. Make sure to trim to edges once all done.
- Bake the tart in the preheated oven for about 50 minutes. Keep an eye on it and cover it with foil it starts browning too soon.
- Once baked, remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly in the tin, then remove from the tin and serve. Dust with icing sugar if you wish.