apricot jam & saffron crostata
 

You can make this with any jam you like, or even with dollops of Nutella. This variation is a particular favourite of mine — there's something about the warmth of the saffron and the sweetness of the apricot that I find deeply seductive. You will need a 28cm-diameter tart tin with a removable base.

SERVE-8-10 people, 1 hour 25 mins

for the pastry
200g cold butter, roughly chopped, plus extra
400g 00 flour 170g icing sugar 4 egg yolks
1 egg

for the filling
850g apricot jam
1tsp saffron threads

Place the butter, flour and a pinch of salt into a food processor, then blitz until you have a mixture the consistency of grainy sand. Add the icing sugar and egg yolks and use your hands to bring the dough together. If it feels too dry and crumbly, add 1-2 tbsp cold water until the dough feels soft and pliable, but not sticky. Roll it into a ball, wrap in clingfilm and set in the fridge to rest for at least 30 minutes. You can make the pastry dough the day before and leave it overnight if you like.

Heat the oven to 160C (180C non-fan). Butter and flour the tart tin. Now make the filling. Spoon the jam into a medium-sized saucepan, add the saffron and warm gently over a low to medium heat for a few minutes, until it begins to bubble and you can smell the scent of the saffron. Set to one side and leave to cool a little.
Cut away a third of the dough, wrap it in clingfilm and place it in the fridge. Now roll out the rest into a circle as thick as a 50p piece and large enough to cover the base and sides of your tin, with a little overhanging. Carefully lift the sheet of pastry into the tin and press it well into the corners, then roll a rolling pin over the top of the tin and cut away any excess pastry. Use a fork to prick the bottom of the pastry in several places. Then spoon in the jam and use the back of the spoon to spread it out evenly. Don't worry if the jam doesn't fill the depth of the pastry case, it will bubble up a little as it cooks, and you only want a thin layer of jam with the pastry, otherwise the tart begins to taste a little sickly.

Roll out the last piece of dough and cut into strips 2cm wide and long enough to straddle the width of the tin, then arrange over the top of the tart in a lattice pattern. Crack the egg into a small bowl, beat lightly with a fork, and use a pastry brush to glaze the pastry, taking care to get into all the nooks and crannies.

Bake in the oven for 45 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown. I place it on the bottom of the oven, so that the pastry underneath crisps nicely and the bottom doesn't become soggy. Alternatively, if you have a pizza stone or a spare baking tray, heat it in the oven and then set the tin on that. Leave to cool to room temperature before lifting out of the tin.

For picnics, I tend to keep the tart in its tin to transport it, safe and sound, to our picnic spot.