Saturday, November 27, 2010

Daring Baker's November Challenge: Crostata

The 2010 November Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Simona of 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.

I decided to do a  raspberry-cassis pastry cream crostata.

Equipment required:
  • bowls, as needed
  • fork
  • knife
  • bench (or pastry) scraper
  • rolling pin
  • pastry brush
  • 9 or 9.5-inch [23-24 cm] fluted round tart pan with removable bottom, about 1 inch [2.5 cm] high. (Note: If you don't have a tart pan with a removable bottom, don’t worry! You can make crostata using a 9-inch cake pan or even a 9-inch pie plate. See the Additional Information section for information on using different pans.
  • a food processor is useful, but not required

Pasta frolla

  • 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
Note 1: Superfine sugar is often also referred to as ultrafine, baker’s sugar or caster sugar. It’s available in most supermarkets. If you cannot find “superfine” sugar, you can make your own by putting some regular granulated sugar in a food processor or blender and letting it run until the sugar is finely ground.
Note 2: There are different ways of making vanilla sugar. I keep vanilla beans in a jar half-filled with sugar until I need to use them, for example, to make vanilla ice cream. After I remove the split bean from the custard that will go into the ice cream maker, I rinse it, dry it and put it back in the jar with sugar.
Making pasta frolla by hand:
  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 into it (reserve about a teaspoon of the egg mixture for glazing purposes later on – place in the refrigerator, covered, until ready to use).
  4. Add the lemon zest to your flour/butter/egg mixture.
  5. Use a fork to incorporate the liquid into the solid ingredients, and then use your fingertips.
  6. Knead lightly just until the dough comes together into a ball.
  7. Shape the dough into a flat disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Place the dough in the refrigerator and chill for at least two hours. You can refrigerate the dough overnight.
Making pasta frolla with a food processor:
  1. Put sugar, flour, salt, and lemon zest in the food processor and pulse a few times to mix.
  2. Add butter and pulse a few times, until the mixture has the consistency of coarse meal.
  3. Empty food processor's bowl onto your work surface
  4. See step 3 above and continue as explained in the following steps (minus the lemon zest, which you have already added).
Variation for Version 1 of pasta frolla:
If you want, you can make the pasta frolla using a combination of all-purpose flour and whole-wheat pastry flour.
If you choose to try this variation, use 1 cup [240 ml, 135 g, 4 3/4 oz.] unbleached all-purpose flour and 3/4 cup [180 ml, 100 g, 3.5 oz.] whole-wheat pastry flour.

Raspberry-Cassis Pastry Cream Filling
2 oz cornstarch
16 fl oz milk
4 oz sugar
1 egg
4 yolks
2 oz butter
1/2 cup frozen raspberries (thawed)
1/8 cup cassis liqueur

  1. Put sugar and 7/8ths of the milk in a pot and boil till the sugar dissolves.
  2. Meanwhile, whisk cornstarch and remaining cold milk together (note, cornstarch only dissolves in cold liquids, not in hot.)

 3. Whisk the eggs and yolks together with the cornstarch mixture. Also mix together the raspberries and cassis liqueur, roughly breaking up the raspberries.

 4. When the milk and sugar are boiling, pour into the egg- cornstarch mixture and whisk constantly. Bring entire mixture back to the pot over heat. Always stir, never stop stirring!
5. Add the raspberry mixture to it, and if you want a darker color, add some gel food coloring at this time to make the color more intense.

 6. Allow the mixture to thicken and come to a boil (it will bubble lightly) but stir constantly!

 7. Pour the cream into another bowl and add the cut up butter, whisking till it incorporates.
8. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to cool. (put little wholes or cuts in the plastic wrap to allow steam to escape.)

Rolling out the Dough
Using a rolling pin roll out the dough very thinly and put over the tart pan, trimming the edges.

Then you must perforate it with a fork so that when the dough is in the oven it doesn't pop up.  You can either blind bake the pasta frolla first and then put in the filling or bake it with the filling already inside. I chose the latter.

 After putting in the filling and leveling it off, you can put a top crust also or leave it open. I used cookie cutters to decorate my top crust. I rolled it out on top of the filled tart and pressed the edges together.

 Before they go in the oven you have the option to give them an egg wash or to leave them plain. I left them plain because I wanted to glaze them with strawberry preserves when they came out of the oven.

Bake at 350 F for about 20 minutes or until the pastry is cooked (it all depends on the thickness of the pastry.)

 When they come out, glaze them with preserves of your choice (if you didn't already egg wash) and allow to cool before slicing and eating. The pastry cream will be very very hot!

And below is a cross section of my beautiful individual crostatas.
I served these with my brandied cherry choc-chip ice cream from a previous post. It was a divine marriage of flavors and textures. Try it!!


  1. Oh my gosh those look amazing! Are you sure you didn't use any food colouring... :)

  2. Love the color, flavor, and looks of your Crostata. Very cute with the cutouts.

  3. I have to try this, the pies look so cute!! P.S. congrats on your new job !!