Apricot Lemon Custard Crostata (Italian Tart) – Happy Birthday Lab Noon!

“Let’s make crostata, shall we?”
This is what my grandma and mom always said, as they unloaded basketful a of fruit on our hardwood table.
“now, let’s get stoning and peeling.”
Every summer, fresh fruit has never been missing on our table. Whether it was cherries, peaches or apricots, or plums, figs or pears, my grandparents always took great care into tending after their trees. My family grew us exactly the same way they grew their greens: they let them follow their natural inclination, and only intervened if they looked like they could be having some sort of problems. We grew strong – both us and the vegetables.

Apricot Lemon Custard Crostata (Italian Tart) | Hortus Natural Cooking

Every time I find myself holding a basketful of fruit, I can’t help but think about the importance of learning to cultivate – in every which sense this word can be interpreted.  Cultivating can happen with greens, feelings and people, and celebrations always seem such a great way to put ourselves in the context of ‘cultivating’. What do the faces we meet in our celebrations mean to us? And what care do we put into choosing a gift? Can we link our effort to choose beautiful things to the faces they are meant for? Or do we just celebrate mindlessly, just because it happens regularly, just the way we eat mindlessly, we walk down the street mindlessly, we talk mindlessly and even do mindful things mindlessly? Every time I feel like I am not present here and now, I stop and think about the celebrations in our lives, however small they may be. And, if you can find at least one joyous little reason behind every single gesture I’m making, it means that my life is bearing fruit.

Therefore, I dedicate this recurrent dessert and this bountiful harvest to Saghar and her blog’s Lab Noon birthday party. Let this celebration be a renewal for all the things, good and bad, we saw and lived, and may them transcend our spirit and remind us that everything we make can (and therefore should) be beautiful.

Apricot Lemon Custard Crostata (Italian Tart) | Hortus Natural Cooking

These apricots actually come from Enrico’s garden. He has a tree in the lawn that produced and insane amount of apricots this year.  “we used to have a vegetable garden too, when my grandfather was alive,” he said. “Too bad my parents did not care about cultivating it further…” But some things are just meant to bear fruit regardless, even when it’s ignored and uncared for. And that should be a good enough reason to think that this world is just plain stunning.

Now, crostata is definitely not used for birthdays: it is one of those things that can be made together with your family, brought to a party, or used as a Sunday ‘merenda’. This special Italian kind of tart is usually not the main event at a party, but it’s a year-round staple, and I’m not a cake person (though I will make one proper cake at some point, really). I thought this would be a great option, as it’s filled with good feelings and memories. And that’s what matters! You can make crostata in so many ways, with all sorts of fruit and jam. For this special occasion, I made an Apricot Lemon Custard Crostata.
Though the shell it’s not vegan, I am 100% sure this would turn out beautifully by just adding more milk and oil if you’re not using the eggs. It’s even easier because you’re supposed to press it in the pan.

Apricot Lemon Custard Crostata (Italian Tart) | Hortus Natural CookingApricot Lemon Custard Crostata (Italian Tart) | Hortus Natural Cooking
To make the custard, follow the instructions in this post, or you could also use the custard from this post – just extra-charge it with lemon!

TRIVIA: The crostata dough can be used to make Torta della Nonna, as well!

Apricot & Lemon Custard Crostata (Italian Tart) - Happy Birthday Lab Noon!
 
Ingredients
FOR THE CROSTATA DOUGH
  • 8.8 oz. / 250g spelt flour
  • ⅓ cup + 1 tsp / 80 ml coconut oil
  • Almond milk or other milk, enough to make the dough come together
  • 3.5 oz. / 100g whole brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • Grated zest of a lemon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
FOR THE ASSEMBLY
  • 7 large apricots, pitted and sliced lengthwise
  • The juice of half a lemon
  • 1 tbsp whole brown sugar, or honey or other sweetener
  • Vegan Vanilla Lemon Custard Cream (see link above and in recipe)
Instructions
MAKE THE CROSTATA DOUGH
  1. Add the flour, sugar, lemon zest, oil, eggs and baking powder&soda in a food processor, and process until the dough start coming together. Add milk, if needed, until everything comes together well. The dough should be soft, but not too sticky. You can do the same in a bowl by kneading by hand. Let it rest in the fridge for at least an hour.
PREPARE THE INGREDIENTS
  1. Toss the apricot slices in the lemon and sugar, and set aside while you prepare the custard.
  2. Make the custard as per the instructions in this post: http://hortuscuisine.com/blog/2015/07/06/vegan-gluten-free-sweet-vanilla-rice-custard-cream/
  3. Preheat the oven to 355 F˚ / 180 C˚.
  4. When ready, grease and flour a 11 inch / 28 cm pie/tart pan and press the dough in. Pressing is easier, but you can also roll it out to make it more even. It should be thicker than your average tart. Fill the shell with the custard (no need to pre-bake the shell - that's the beauty of it!) and arrange the apricots in a pretty pattern. Brush with the leftover juice from the apricots.
  5. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the shell is golden brown and the custard is set.
  6. Enjoy by itself, of with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!

 

Also, Saghar is hosting a cool giveaway on her blog! Just give her post a read to know what it’s about.

And here’s the full list of all those who participated!

Lab Noon’s Fruitty Birthday Cake (English) | Lab Noon
Torta di Compleanno di Lab Noon alla Frutta (Italiano) | Lab Noon
Chamomile Apricot Veriticle Roll Cake | Twigg Studios
Cherry clafoutis (French & English) | Foodistan
Torta della nonna. Lab Noon’s Birthday (Eng-Ita) | Cocina y Letras
Ciambelline alla lavanda con glassa alle more | Celeste Cucina
Summer Berry Tart | Foolproof Living
Mini Chocolate Pavlovas with Blueberries | My Kitchen Kiosk
Sourdough Lemon Poppy Seed Bread Cake with Lemon Icing | My Daily Sourdough Bread
Earl Grey Tea Mousse & How Food Bloggers Celebrate Birthdays | Gourmet Project
Syllabub ai Frutti di Bosco | La Panificatrice Folle
Passionfruit Sponge | Rustica Retro
Pandan Coconut Cake with Kaya | Vermilion Roots
Cooling Watermelon Cakes | Gretchen Gretchen
Orange blossom cupcakes | Persian Foodie

  1. Beautiful crostata!! I can just taste the sweetness of the apricots. I’m not a sweet cake type of person either — could be because we never had cakes when I was growing up although for special occasions we had strucolo and frittole and pinza. Those were delicious special occasion treats. And my parents had a talent with the soil, it was as if they could speak to it and beautiful vegetables and flowers would grow out of it. They took their time and they cared. I’ve never made a crostata — I think it’s about time. Thank you for sharing your memories and your recipe. Buona giornata, Valentina.

  2. What a beautiful crostata. I love the idea of using spelt flour for the dough.
    And that filling.. So looking forward to giving this crostata a try!
    Cheers!

  3. Oh I’m speechless Valentina :)

    Your peice on mindfullness, the beginnings and the ends really got into me. Specially in this moment of celebrating one year of Lab Noon. Which has been an incredibly challenging year to me. But desipite everything, here I am celebrating the good things, with beautiful people such as you. Thanks, from the bottom of my heart :)

    I should say I am normally not a crostata fan because it’s too sweet for me (and I have a sweet tooth, I love cakes and desserts, I just don’t like them too sweet), but I’m sure I can make your recipe without worrying and it would turn out great. Do you use your coconut oil solid?

    Needless to say, your photography and storytelling is flawless. <3

    • Aw Saghar, I didn’t know I picked a recipe you’re not a fan of! o_o so sorry!! But no, this one is definitely not too sweet. I used melted coconut oil.
      I’m glad you liked the post! Thank you for hosting such a beautiful event! <3

    • Oh come on! I love it :) I meant the standard crostata. I could prove it to you by eating the whole pie in one serving! Ok, let’s say half of it, for not risking my life.
      It’s adorable <3

  4. Hi,

    I made this on Sunday, and it was really tasty! I liked the whole wheat flour, it gives the cake a deeper flavor.
    I was lazy, so I replaced the custard with soya yoghurt, which was a little to liquid, I’d add a little starch next time.

    Thanks for the recipe, it was just right in time with my apricot tree :)
    I will surley make this again with other fruit.

    Best regards

    • Thanks Niki, so happy you tried it! Definitely try it with other fruit :) If you wanted to make it with yogurt, you could briefly cook the fruit on the side, bake the empty shell, then fill it with some thick yogurt. Starch should work. Let me know how it goes if you ever try again!

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