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!

Boozy Fruit Cake | Gin-infused fruit cake

Boozy cake with gin-infused fruit, sliced

This cake came about as a flash of inspiration after I’d made some festive gin liqueurs and didn’t want to waste the delicious fruit. It’s quick & easy to make, and if you haven’t made gin liqueur to give you the boozy fruit, simply soak the apples in your favourite tipple instead (see suggestion below), and use the mincemeat straight out of the jar 🙂

Boozy cake with gin-infused fruit, sliced

Ingredients

  • 115g self-raising flour
  • 100g butter (I like using salted butter, but you can use unsalted if you prefer)
  • 100g golden caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • all the fruit from the mincemeat gin liqueur and toffee apple gin liqueur, after you have sieved all the gin into bottles and squeezed out as much from the fruit as you can, plus the rest of the open jar of mincemeat that you didn’t use for the gin

If you haven’t made festive gin liqueur, you can soak the fruit in any alcohol of your choice. I have done this with Rum as follows:

Place approximately 80g of dried apple rings, 2 sweet red apples (peeled, cored and cut into segments) and a full 400g jar of mincemeat into a large glass bowl, add a couple of generous tablespoons of clear honey, cover with dark Rum and stir. Cover and leave to stand for 2 days, stirring from time to time. Then sieve the liquid into a sterilised bottle (the Rum liqueur is delicious!), squeezing any excess Rum out of the fruit. Roughly chop the fruit and use for the cake.

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C (fan).

Whisk the butter and golden caster sugar until they become light and creamy, then gradually add the eggs, continuing to whisk as you do so. Add a little flour with the last of the eggs to avoid the mixture splitting, then fold in the rest of the flour.

Add the boozy fruit, stirring the thick mixture well, to ensure the fruit is evenly distributed.

Place the mixture into a greased 2lb loaf tin and place into the pre-heated oven for about 65 minutes (check that a wooden skewer comes out almost completely dry before taking the cake out of the oven).

Leave the cake to cool almost completely in the tin before turning it out onto a cooling rack, to avoid it falling apart.

Boozy cake with gin-infused fruit, sliced

This cake will keep for a few days, wrapped in clingfilm and tin foil – if you can keep your hands off it long enough!!!

Boozy gin-infused fruit cake – Gloriously simple, gloriously good!

Nut, chia seed and raisin bars

Nut, chia seed and raisin bars

With the Covid-19 crisis affecting our shopping habits and availability of ingredients, I found that the various nut bars I often relied on for breakfast or a quick mid-afternoon snack were not always available in the shops.

I therefore decided to have a go at making my own. I have made these a few times now and they’re a big hit with the whole family, including hubby who doesn’t usually like eating nut bars.

Please note you can use whichever nuts you like – I love cashew nuts and started making them with just those, but they are very expensive (I had a look at the price of bulk bags of pistachios and they were even worse, so I’ll stear clear of those…shame, as I love pistachios!), so now I mix cashews and peanuts and the bars are equally delicious.

Nut, chia seed and raisin bars (makes approx. 14-16 bars)

  • 600g unsalted, unroasted nuts (I use blanched peanuts and raw cashew nuts, which I buy in bulk 1kg bags, but you can use whichever nuts take your fancy!)
  • 50g raisins
  • 70g chia seeds
  • 150g white chocolate (I use Callebaut white chocolate callets as they melt really well in the microwave, but any good quality chocolate that withstands melting and chilling well will work. I buy these in bulk… my latest purchase was a 2.5kg bag, which is dangerous in a house full of chocoholics!)
  • A generous sprinkling of fine sea salt

How to make nut, chia seed and raisin bars

Line a deep baking tray / cake pan with greaseproof paper (mine is 32cm long, 21cm wide and 5cm high, but use whatever you have available as long as it allows for a suitable depth for nut bars). I find it helps to grease the pan with butter or margarine to allow the paper to stick to it and stay flat and in place.

Heat up a large non-stick frying pan on a high heat, then add the cashew nuts and peanuts (or other nuts of your choice). As they start warming up, stir them frequently and as an oily sheen starts to appear, sprinkle them liberally with fine sea salt. Continue to stir frequently as they start to roast. I like the uneven roasting of doing this in a pan, where some are blackened in some parts and lightly golden in others, but it is a matter of personal preference / taste. For a more even roasting, you may wish to do this part in the oven.

While the nuts are roasting, melt the chocolate in the microwave (with the Callebaut chocolate I use, it takes about 2 minutes on high, stirring halfway through – different chocolate may behave differently though and to be on the safe side, you may want to do this more gently in a bain marie, with a bowl over a pan of hot water, letting the steam do the job).

Transfer nuts, raisins and chia seeds into a large mixing bowl and add the melted chocolate, stirring to make sure all the ingredients are well mixed, then transfer into your lined baking tray while still warm. Spread the mix out as evenly as possible and refrigerate for at least a couple of hours or overnight.

Once the giant nut bar is well chilled and solid, take it out of the tray, remove the greaseproof paper and place it on a large chopping board. Using a large knife or cleaver, cut it into 14-16 nut bars. Some small pieces will simply break off, but that’s ok – don’t waste them. Stick them in a bowl and eat them as a snack 🙂

  • Nut, chia seed and raisin bars

Nut, chia seed and raisin bars – Gloriously Simple, Gloriously Good!