When I read the heading to this month’s challenge I thought we were making some sort of bread. I’m so happy to say that crostata is actually delicious italian pastry!
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.
Simona gave us three choices of tart to make, all sounding utterly delicious. As I am still obsessed with creme patisserie after the May DBC, I decided to make my crostata with custard. Unfortunately I decided to make the pastry on one of Sydney’s 30-degree days! At first the pastry just would not work as it kept on getting too soft. I’ll even go so far as to reveal I threw a massive tantrum when Frank came in to help and flicked pastry blobs all over the kitchen counter….
After gathering the blobs and my frayed nerves, I decided to start again. I refrigerated the pastry after every step, and in the end it turned out fabulously. I didn’t have the right sized flan tin, so I used a spring-form cake tin. It gave the custard good height, and baked well. To quote Frank’s brother-in-law, this was one of my best yet! Definitely try it if you’re looking for an italian take on custard tart. Thanks Simona for the great challenge!
Pasta frolla (pastry)
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
Making pasta frolla by hand:
Whisk together sugar, flour and salt in a bowl.
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.
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).
Add the lemon zest to your flour/butter/egg mixture.
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.
Crostata con la Crema
you will need: One batch of pastry cream (Note: For the recipe that I used, see https://lollcakes.wordpress.com/2010/10/01/croquembouche/. Prepare the pastry cream in advance of assembling the crostata)
Assembling and baking the crostata con la crema:
Heat the oven to 350ºF [180ºC/gas mark 4].
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.
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. However, you can also roll the dough directly on a work surface if you prefer.
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 circle about 1/8th inch (3 mm) thick.
If you used the plastic wrap or parchment paper as rolling surface, flip dough over the pan, 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.
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.
Cover the bottom of the crostata crust evenly with the pastry cream.
Use the prepared strips or rolls of dough to make a lattice over the surface, or decorate with the cut shapes. (Note: You can use dough scraps to make cookies: see the Additional Information section for some pointers)
Brush the border and strips of dough with the reserved beaten eggs. You can add a drop or two of water to the beaten eggs if you don’t have enough liquid.
Put the tart in the oven and bake for 30 minutes.
After 35 minutes, check the tart, and continue baking until the tart is of a nice golden hue. (Note: Every oven is different. In my oven it took 45 minutes to bake the tart until golden.)
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.