November 27, 2010

Pasta Frolla – Crostatine di Mele (Apple Pie Mini Crostata) and Crostate di Ricotta e Marmellata di Fragole (Ricotta And Strawberry Jam Crostata): Daring Baker Challenge November, 2010

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.


Happy Cook said...

I love the jam one drool.

Kris Ngoei said...

Since reading your post in forum, I have been looking forward to your mini crostatas... very pretty.

And most of all, I just adore these very soothing pictures..

Torviewtoronto said...

beautiful pictures delicious desserts

Priya said...

Both crostatas looks gorgeous, fabulous and very tempting..

shelley c. said...

Both versions look and sound absolutely delicious. I am totally with your daughter - I would be asking for more, too! Beautiful job.

Ivayla said...

Yum! That ricotta and jam combination sounds and looks divine!

Akila said...

wow what a jam... looks lovely....

Simona said...

I wouldn't know which one to try first: both versions look great. I am glad the rest of the family approved too. said...

These look amazing and so mouth watering.I loved the jammie ones they look so cute.Athough all of them look amazing.

Laura said...

Beautiful and so creative. I am really intrigued by the spices that you put with the apples. And the strawberry/ricotta sounds light and lovely.

Pavithra said...

Wow I love both both looks so delicious.. great job on the challenge.

Audax said...

I love how put in Indian chai spices in the apple filling and the jam crostatine looks so cute. And if all the tarts disappear in an instant well that says it all. Wonderful photos always well done on this challenge. And yes this crust pastry is a keeper. Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

anchan said...

Such cute little crostata, and so pretty! I would love to try the spiced apple version, mmmm, I bet it smelled amazing as it was baking! xxx

Renata said...

Love your Crostatine! Ricotta filling is something I've been willing to try on desserts for a while, you totally inspired me!

Zita said...

Aww..the staberry tart is a star, beatiful colour and yummy crust, I dont mind the short post, your pics have made it up to me :)

Priya Sreeram said...

drooling here-yum!

Suzler said...

You bake so beautifully, Aparna! Both of your crostate are works of art and they both sound delicious.

Deeba PAB said...

Oh those are pretty...both variants. 3 times...yay now u are truly a daring baker. I love that you are game to use butter & eggs so much more. This is indeed a keeper of a pastry recipe. I just made another batch this morning for a family dinner I am hosting tomorrow!

Yvette said...

Both of you're versions look yummie, wish i could taste them.

veena krishnakumar said...

Aparna this looks so so so good. The jam one is very cute

Raaga said...

Can I request you to please send one piece of each over?

Denise said...

Your ricotta and strawberry jam crostata sounds divine and looks very festive for the holiday season!

The Betz Family said...

Beautiful! I love anything resembling apple pie, but the strawberry looks delicious too. Nice job on the challenge!

Manu said...

I love your indian spice filling!!! I must try it since I adore garam masala!
I think this time of year everybody is soooo busy! Although the short time you made a great challenge!

Miri said...

Yep something about that jam tart just calls to me too!

crumbsoflove said...

I really like the sound of the spices in your apple version. A very nice twist on apples

indianspicemagic said...

Love your idea of using chai masala in the first recipe...

June said...

Oh gimme gimme! They look amazing!

alice said...

I'm not surprised that you have orders for more and more of these tarts. Spiced apple must have made
For a really tasty filling.

poonam,,, said...

hey!they look great! love the apple version :)

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Your crostate are wonderful! Both versions look so delicious.



Marcellina said...

Mini crostata's are a great idea! I love the idea of the indian spices with the apple. This is unusual for me but I think it would be wonderful and fragrant! And the jam with ricotta - perfect!

Peggy said...

Definitely love both of these, but especially the jam one! Great entry for the challenge!

Bergamot said...

Looks beautiful

Mary said...

They both look wonderful, and I would have a very difficult time deciding between them!

Lisa said...

I love both your mini-crostatas, but I must admit, I'm SO loving the jam ones. My mouth is watering as I look at your gorgeous photos of those ricotta - jam jewels! Beautiful!

Sheena said...

Both crostatas look beautiful, I especially love the colour of the jam one, and I imagine it would be perfect with the ricotta base!

Dee D. said...

Your crostatas look so yummy and so cute! Love them!