Crostata di sbriciolata | Crumble pie

Crumble pie with thick custard filling, shown as a whole pie with one slice cut out of it and slightly pulled away from the rest of the pie.

Crostata di sbriciolata alla crema pasticcera | Custard-filled crumble pie

This is an Italian recipe by Luisa Orizio (Facebook, Instagram), posted on the Giallo Zafferano Blog. I made this today as I had friends coming over and fancied something quick and easy to make for dessert that I could do with ingredients I already had in the house.

It was an absolute hit – nearly the whole lot went (and that was after we’d eaten pizza!), and I was asked to translate the recipe so they could replicate it at home!

Sbriciolata is a effectively a crumble, though the way this was done, the crumble was made with the same dough as the base, then crumbled over the top by hand, rather than an English crumble-making method. A crostata is a pie / tart. Crema pasticcera is a thick egg custard (flour is used to make it thicker than English custard) and is used as a filling in Italian pastries and cakes, and as a dessert in its own right. So, this is a pie / tart, filled with delicious thick custard and topped with a crispy crumble topping. It is simple to make and incredibly delicious! Yum 🙂

Tip: According to the original recipe post, this pie can be kept in the fridge for two days (if it lasts that long!) and can be frozen.

crostata di sbriciolata alla crema pasticcera | crumble pie with thick custard filling. Image shows the pie in its baking tin.

Ingredients (for a 22cm pie tin)

For the pastry:

  • 300g plain white flour
  • 150g butter, left to soften at room temperature (I like to use salted butter as I feel it gives the pastry more depth of flavour, but you can use unsalted, if you prefer)
  • 90g caster sugar
  • 1 yolk from a large egg
  • 1tsp baking powder

For the crema pasticcera (thick custard):

  • 500ml milk (the original recipe calls for 300ml milk and 200ml single cream, but advises you can use just milk and cook it for longer to allow it to thicken…I actually added a little bit of cornflour to the plain flour provided for in the recipe – see below)
  • 3 yolks from large eggs
  • 140g sugar
  • 40g plain white flour
  • 10g cornflour (my addition – see above)
  • 1/2tsp vanilla extract (this was my addition to the recipe; alternatively, you can infuse the milk with pieces of lemon or organge zest, to have a traditional italian crema pasticcera flavour)

Method

Start by making the pastry:

In a bowl, combine the softened butter and sugar, using a spoon. You don’t need to beat it for any length of time, just mix it well to create a sugary/buttery paste.

Add the egg yolk and mix until combined.

Add the flour and baking powder a little at a time, first mixing with a spoon, then as it gets thicker and drier, using your hands, until you have a smooth dough.

Form a dough ball, wrap it in clingfilm and rest it in the fridge while you prepare the crema pasticcera (custard).

Now prepare the custard:

Put the milk and vanilla essence in a saucepan over a low-medium heat.

While the milk is heating, beat (not whisk) together the egg yolks and sugar in a bowl, then add the flour and cornflour and mix well until you have a smooth paste, ensuring there are no lumps.

Once the milk is hot (not boiling), place the thick egg, sugar, flour and cornflour paste into the centre of the bowl containing the hot milk and leave it to cook over a low heat for 2-3 minutes without stirring, until you see some bubbles forming – a bit like little erupting volcanoes.

Tip: I must admit, this step was a bit of a leap of faith for me! I expected to find a congealed, burnt, solid lump at the bottom of the pan! Instead, I found that the milk started visibly thickening before the little volcanoes appeared, and although it took about 3-4 minutes rather than the 2 minutes in the original recipe, sure enough the little volcanoes did start appearing!

As soon as you see the little volcanic eruptions appearing, begin stirring rapidly with a hand whisk and keep stirring for a few minutes, until the custard is thick. Take the pan off the heat and let the custard cool a little while you start preparing the pie base.

Tip: I kept stirring the custard with the whisk from time to time, to help it cool faster and prevent a skin forming.

Time to assemble the pie:

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C (fan).

Place 2/3rds of the pastry between two sheets of greaseproof paper (this will prevent it from sticking to the worktop / surface, and make it easier to lift the pastry into the pie tin) and roll it out, using a rolling pin, until it is large enough to cover the base and sides of the tin.

Place the rolled out pastry into your pie tin (one with a removable bottom is preferable) and gently prick the base with a fork all over. If bits of pastry fall off, you can simply press them into the sides / base where they are needed, to plug any gaps.

Pour in the slightly cooled custard and level it with a spatula.

Roughly crumble the remaining pastry over the top of the custard.

Place in the oven and bake for approximately 30 minutes.

Let the pie completely cool (ideally to fridge temperature) before cutting it.

Serve and enjoy!

Crumble pie with thick custard filling, shown as a whole pie with one slice cut out of it and slightly pulled away from the rest of the pie.
Side view of half a sliced thick custard pie with a crumble topping.

Custard-filled crumble pie | Gloriously Simple, Gloriously Good!

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