The official tourism website of the City of Rome wasn’t where I imagined I’d find the recipe for crostata con ricotta e visciole, a classic crostata from the Roman-Jewish culinary tradition made with ricotta and wild sour cherries. But after scouring the internet and searching my collection of cookbooks, I concluded that the best recipe was right there on Rome’s website.
Why did I choose that recipe from the many that I came across? Well, for a couple of reasons.
First, the crostata in the picture that accompanied the recipe looked terrible, which was a good sign. An authentic crostata con ricotta e visciole is not the most photogenic Roman pastry. If you don’t believe me, click on that link to the recipe on Rome’s website and have a look yourself. Am I right?
Second, the website references the secret recipe of a “historical bakery” in Rome’s Jewish Ghetto, a vibrant neighborhood of cultural and historical significance, known for its Jewish heritage and traditional Roman-Jewish culinary traditions.
Understandably, the city did not mention the bakery’s name to avoid promoting one business over another, but we know what they were referring to: it’s Pasticceria Boccione, at Via del Portico d’Ottavia, 1, the oldest pasticceria in the neighborhood. Their crostate con ricotta and visciole are legendary, if not always elegant in presentation.
Run by the same family since it was established in 1815, Pasticceria Boccione is a tiny storefront with no sign out front. You might miss is walking by, except for the long line of people outside most days of the week. The bakery sells a variety of crostate, biscotti, and their hallmark pizza ebraica, but it is most famous for its crostata con ricotta e visciole, which often line the storefront windows.
The recipe on the city website needed a few tweaks:
- The pasta frolla crust was too dry, so I increased the butter.
- I also skipped the Sambuca, because I don’t care for the anise flavor of this Italian liqueur.
- Finally, the directions in the recipe on the city website are off in both English and Italian. In the last step before baking, it says to place strips of dough on top of the crostata, lattice-style. That how a traditional crostata is made, but with crostata con ricotta e visciole, you roll out and place an entire disk of pasta frolla on top, completing hiding the filling inside.
Just follow our recipe instead of theirs, and you will be fine. The crostata turned out delicious and earned Stefano’s stamp of approval. He said it reminded him of the ones in a certain Roman pastry shop.
For the Pasta Frolla
- 400 grams of flour
- 200 grams of suger
- 230 grams of butter, room temperature
- 4 egg yolks
- Zest of 1 lemon
For the filling
- 400 grams of fresh, whole milk ricotta
- 120 grams of sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 jar (approx. 350 grams) of visciole (wild sour cherry) jam, or substitute with Amarena cherry jam
- Add the flour, sugar, butter, egg yolks and lemon zest to a mixing bowl.
- Mix on medium speed with a stand mixer until the dough is combined.
- Using a kitchen scale, divide the dough into two equal parts.
- Shape each part into a ball, cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven to 350° F (180° C).
- In a mixing bowl on low speed or by hand, mix the ricotta, sugar and egg. Set aside.
- Prepare a 24 cm /9-10 in tart pan with butter and flour.
- Remove the pasta frolla from the refrigerator.
- Sprinkle flour onto a smooth surface and roll out one piece of dough until it is big enough to fill the base and sides of your tart pan.
- Line the tart pan with the rolled-out dough, pressing it in so that it is equal in thickness on the bottom and on the sides. Trim any excess dough around the rim of the pan.
- Use a spatula to spread the jam over the surface of the dough.
- Carefully spread the ricotta mixture on top of the jam, leaving enough space around the edges of to seal the dough with the top piece.
- Roll out the second piece of dough until it is just larger than the tart pan.
- Place the disk of dough on top of the crostata and carefully pinch the top and bottom edges together to seal the crust.
- Bake at 350° F (180° C) for approximately 45 minutes.
- Let the crostata cool completely before serving.
Italian 00 flour, such as Antimo Caputo Double Zero Flour, is ideal, but all-purpose flour will work fine.
Visciole (wild sour cherry) jam can be hard to find. Feel free to substitute with Amarena cherry jam.
I couldn't even find Amarena cherry jam, but I had Amarena cherries, so I processed them and cooked them down to jam, which worked wonderfully.