This is probably my shortest ever Daring Baker post, because I don’t have the time to sit down and write a long one! I actually finished the challenge quite early on in the month but just never managed to put it down in words. November, for me, has been one of those months that seems to be over as soon as it began, and December looks like it is going to be pretty much the same!
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.
And so to the challenge, which I thought was something to do with pasta, when I first saw it. Then I realized pasta frolla was shortcrust pastry in Italian, and a crostata is a tart (I think pies and galettes also qualify).
As Simona, who grew up with these says, pasta frolla is versatile and can be used as a base for crostata made with fruit preserves, pastry cream, fresh fruit, ricotta, and other ingredients, and, by itself, it makes very nice cookies.
We had to make pasta frolla using one of the recipes provided, but what we wanted to put in it was entirely up to us. You can find the detailed recipe here. The pasta frolla recipe I used follows along with my fillings.
I wanted to use fruit in my crostata but the rains have given away to cooler weather but fruits of the season are just beginning to make an appearance. One fruit which seems to be available the year round in India these days is the apple. And I’m always game for anything that remotely resembles apple pie.
So I made some lattice-topped Crostatine di Mele. Translated, that means little crostata filled with apple pie filling. The recipe for the pasta frolla gave me 6 crostatine and 4 small crostate.
Crostatine di Mele (Apple Pie Mini Crostata)
For the pasta frolla:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
a pinch of salt
115gm cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
grated zest of half a lemon
1 large egg, lightly beaten
For the spiced apple pie filling:
4 apples (peeled, cored and sliced thinly)
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup brown sugar (adjust as needed)
2 tbsp butter
1/2 garam masala
1/2 tsp chai masala
1/4 tsp salt
For the spiced apple pie filling:
Mix the sliced apples, lemon juice and the brown sugar in a bowl and keep covered for about half an hour.
Then melt the butter in a pan. Put the apple-sugar mixture and the remaining ingredients into the pan and cook over medium heat, till the apples are cooked and the juices have thickened, and the mixture is moist but not runny.
Use in the crostata.
For the pasta frolla:
Put sugar, flour, salt, and lemon zest in the food processor and pulse a few times to mix.
Add the butter and pulse a few times, until the mixture has the consistency of coarse meal. Empty food processor's bowl onto your work surface.
Make a well in the center of the mounded flour and butter mixture and pour the beaten egg into it. Use a fork to incorporate the liquid into the solid ingredients, and then use your fingertips. Knead lightly just until the dough comes together into a ball.
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.
Take the pasta frolla out of the fridge, unwrap it and cut 1/3 of the dough and divide it into 6 equal portions. Refrigerate this dough while you work on the tart base.
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. You can also use parchment paper for this.
After overnight refrigeration, I didn’t have problems rolling out my pastry dough. Lightly dust your work surface with flour and start rolling out the dough to about 1/8” thickness. Using a 2 1/2” or 2 3/4" round cutter, cut out 6 circles. Take the scraps and place on top of each other (do not knead) and then roll out and cut thin strips to use for the lattice in the crostatine.
Now take the 6 pieces of dough in the fridge, and roll each one into rope of uniform thickness. The “rope” should be long enough to cover the circumference of your dough circles. Wet the edges of the circles with milk (I don’t use egg wash) and place the pastry “ropes” along the edges to from a wall sealing the edges neatly and the tips of the “ropes” together.
Fill each crostatina with the apple pie filling and then use the pastry strips to make a lattice over each one, sealing it with a little milk. Brush milk ober the top of the crostatine and bake them at 190C (375F) for about 20 to 25 minutes till they’re golden brown n colour.
Serve them warm as they are or with vanilla ice-cream. This makes 6 crostine.
Crostata di Ricotta e Marmellata di Fragole (Ricotta And Strawberry Jam Crostata)
Traditional Crostate di Marmellata is usually made with home-made jam. I had one jar left from last year's batch of strawberry jam and I decided to put it to some good use here. Since I didn't want a very sweet crostata, I decided to make a two layer crostata with ricotta (paneer) and the jam.
I made my ricotta (paneer) like I always do. For the cheesecake like filling, I did not use any eggs or anything else for binding, but my filling firmed up after baking.
I made these crostata as smaller single serve tarts using small tart tins with removable bases.
For the pasta frolla:
Exactly as above.
For the ricotta and strawberry jam filling:
2 cups fresh home-made ricotta or paneer
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 to 1 1/2 cups home-made strawberry jam
Make the pastry dough in the same way as above. Take the dough out of the fridge. Cut about 1/4 of it and put back into the fridge for making the lattice.
Lightly dust the top of the dough and your work surface (if you’re rolling directly on a work surface) with flour. Keep some flour handy to dust the dough as you go along.
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.
Roll the dough into a square about 1/8” thick. Cut the square into 4 equal squares.
If you used the plastic wrap or parchment paper as rolling surface, flip each square over over one of the four tart pans, centering it, and delicately press it all around so the corners are well covered. Peel away the plastic wrap.
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.
Prick the bottom of the dough with a fork in several places. Keep the scraps aside. You can bake them into cookies later.
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 (this is not traditional, but it looks cute); or roll with your hands into ropes.
Using a whisk or hand held mixer if you prefer, beat together the ricotta (or paneer), powdered sugar and vanilla extract rill very smooth and there are no lumps. Divide this mixture equally into the four tart tins and smooth the top.
Warm the jam slightly and mix it well with a spoon. Spoon the jam over the ricotta in a thin and smooth layer.
Top with a lattice or as you prefer and bake at 190C (375F) for about 25 to 30 minutes till the pastry starts turning golden brown.
Remove from oven, cool completely and remove from the tins. Serve.
This makes 4 crostate.
The pasta frolla recipe is a keeper. It makes a very buttery and flaky and some very good cookies too. I have made the pasta frolla recipe without the egg (I just left it out) and it was pretty good so if you don’t eat eggs, you can still use this recipe.
I think if I tell you I made the Spiced Apple Pie Crostatine first and that they were all gone before I could get my camera, I needn’t tell you anything more!
I had to make a second batch to get the pictures. And then, my daughter wanted to know when I was going to make them next, so I made the ricotta and strawberry jam version.
And please do take the time to visit my Daring Baker friends.