Daring Bakers: Crostata

I have been in pie eating mode lately but none were baked by me, actually from the store, because I did not have a kitchen for 2 weeks. But good news the kitchen is done and I’ll post about that experience soon! I had just bought also about a month ago a tart pan with a removable bottom (for like $8 !!! on liquidation) which I had yet to baptize. I know shame on me. So when I saw this month’s challenge, and Italian pie called a Crostata, I was very excited. I knew exactly what I would put in it but will keep you in suspense for just a bit.

The 2010 November Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Simona from briciole. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make pasta frolla for a crostata. She used her own experience as a source, as well as information from Pellegrino Artusi’s Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well.

Pasta frolla is a fabulous recipe used to make pie crusts or shortbread-like cookies. It is a sweet and rich crust which I find makes it perfect for a tart filling, hence it often being used with marmalade like it was suggested in the challenge. This is not your boring pie crust. I think one of the reasons I don’t make pies a lot is because I usually care more for the filling. Not the case with the pasta frolla. Here is the recipe I used but click here if you want to see various versions.

Pasta frolla

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 c. minus 1 tablespoon [105 ml, 100 g, 3 ½ oz] superfine sugar
  • 1 and 3/4 cup [420 ml, 235 g, 8 1/4 oz.] unbleached all-purpose flour
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 stick [8 tablespoons / 4 oz. / 115 g] cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg and 1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten in a small bowl
  1. Whisk together sugar, flour and salt in a bowl.
  2. Rub or cut the butter into the flour until the mixture has the consistency of coarse crumbs. You can do this in the bowl or on your work surface, using your fingertips or an implement of choice.
  3. Make a well in the center of the mounded flour and butter mixture and pour the beaten eggs and vanilla into it (reserve about a teaspoon of the egg mixture for glazing purposes later on).
  4. Use a fork to incorporate the liquid into the solid ingredients, and then use your fingertips.
  5. Knead lightly just until the dough comes together into a ball.
  6. Shape the dough into a flat disk and wrap it. Chill the dough in the refrigerator for at least two hours.

Now for the filling! I decided to go with something we did in a past challenge: my citrus preserves from the September Daring Cooks challenge. This preserve is low in sugar and high in rind so I knew it would be perfectly extra tart as I wanted it to be. Now since my preserve was made up of large pieces I just threw it in the blend to break it up into a jam consistency. 1 cup and 3/4 is required according to the given recipe.

Now I also added some shredded coconut. This coconut was actually left over from another recipe I did that day. My friend Faith over at An Edible Mosaic recently posted a recipe on how to make homemade coconut milk. I got around to making it today and by the end of it you have plenty of leftover coconut. Go to her blog for the recipe. It was quite an experience to make my coconut milk. It can get messy but definitely worth trying it once. I got over a liter of milk with a nice head of coconut cream that I can use in other recipes.

So in the bottom of the pan I put my shredded coconut and I gently spooned over my marmalade so it would cover the coconut. I found there was not enough filling for my crust…happy I added the coconut, I would go with 3 cups of filling personally. Now before I tell you how to assemble it let me tell you this dough breaks easy…do the plastic wrap suggestion. DO NOT use the parchment paper, I did that and it stuck.

Assembling and baking the crostata:

  1. Heat the oven to 375ºF [190ºC/gas mark 5].
  2. Take the pasta frolla out of the fridge, unwrap it and cut away ¼ of the dough. Reserve this dough to make the lattice top of the crostata. Refrigerate this dough while you work on the tart base.
  3. To help roll the crostata dough, keep the dough on top of the plastic wrap that you had it wrapped in. This can help rolling the dough and can also help when transferring the dough to your pan.
  4. Lightly dust the top of the dough and your work surface with flour. Keep some flour handy to dust the dough as you go along.
  5. If the dough is very firm, start by pressing the dough with the rolling pin from the middle to each end, moving the rolling pin by a pin’s width each time; turn the dough 180 degrees and repeat; when it softens, start rolling.
  6. Roll the dough into a circle about 1/8th inch (3 mm) thick.
  7. Flip dough over the pan, centering it, and delicately press it all around so the corners are well covered. Peel away the plastic wrap.
  8. Trim the excess dough hanging over the edges of the pan. Press the remaining dough around the border into the sides of the pan making sure the border is an even thickness all the way around.
  9. Prick the bottom of the dough with a fork in several places.
  10. Spread the jam or fruit preserves evenly over the bottom of the crostata.
  11. Take out of the fridge the reserved pasta frolla you had cut away earlier. Roll it with your pin and cut into strips or use cookie cutters to make small shapes; or roll with your hands into ropes.
  12. Use the prepared strips or rolls of dough to make a lattice over the surface, or decorate with the cut shapes.
  13. Brush the border and strips of dough with the reserved beaten eggs.
  14. Put the tart in the oven and bake for 25 minutes or until the tart is of a nice golden hue.
  15. When done, remove the tart from the oven and let cool. If you have used a tart pan with a removable bottom, then release the tart base from the fluted tart ring. Make sure the tart is completely cool before slicing and serving.

Oh my the smell wafting in the air as this crostata came out of the oven was to die for. It is very hard to wait for it to cool down before attacking it. But I managed to control myself and was rewarded with a perfect slice of crostata that I enjoyed with a glass of coconut milk.

That crust is just sexy!

Did you make one of my recipes? I would love to see it. Take a photo and tag me on Instagram @cultureatz.

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