Daring Bakers’ Challenge -November Crostata

This is my first month as part of the daring baker group, and I was so excited to kick it off with a fabulous Italian tart, the Crostata.

I bet I have your attention, right? This month’s hostess is Simona from briciole. She invited us to make a crostata as she remembers from her childhood. The base of a crostata is pasta frolla (or pastafrolla), sweet short crust pastry (or sweet tart dough) made of flour, sugar, butter and eggs. Different from a pie crust which is flour, a fat and cold water. She suggested trying the pasta frolla with either fruit preserves for a traditional treat, or pastry cream which I decided on. I was excited to dig right in and try this recipe out.

The pasta frolla was surprisingly easy…

  • 1/2 c. minus 1 tablespoon [105 ml, 100 g, 3 ½ oz] superfine sugar (see Note 1) or a scant 3/4 cup [180ml, 90g, 3 oz] of powdered 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
  • grated zest of half a lemon (you could also use vanilla sugar as an option, see Note 2)
  • 1 large egg and 1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten in a small bowl

Sugar, flour and salt went into the food processor and then in went the cold butter and lemon zest. As soon as I had a course meal consistency I put the flour mixture on my counter and may a well in the center for the eggs. Incorporating just like a pasta, the dough slowly came together. I formed a disc and put it into the fridge to chill for 2 hours.

While I waited for the dough to chill, I started to work on my pastry cream. This was my first attempt, but found it to be simple and delicious! I had large lemon peel slices in my milk (500 ml) & sugar (1/3 cup). I used 1 whole egg with 3 egg yolks and 3 Tbsp. pastry flour. As soon as the milk came to a simmer, I tempered the eggs and then brought the whole mixture up to a simmer for about 6 minutes. It thickened nicely and cooled it off in an ice bath.

I rolled out my pastry and did a 5 minute blind bake at 350 degrees to start with. Then I added the pastry cream, added the lattice work to the top, brushed with egg white and finished baking it for 30 minutes. After cooling I topped it with some frozen blueberries and dusted the top with powdered sugar.

So, how did it turn out? Really delicious!

I think the tart went over quite well with my taste tester. In fact, I was told that I could make a crostata anytime! I am looking forward to next month’s challenge already.

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