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.
To be honest this challenge caused me a bit of anxiety because of the pastry dough. This was my second experience with pastry dough and it was just as frustrating as the first time. The dough did not come together as it should have after adding the egg. I kept my fingers crossed that it would somewhat come together after resting in the refrigerator….wishful thinking. I ended up pressing the crumbly dough into the tart pan…a tip I read in Dorie Greenspan’s Baking From My Home to Yours. This worked but it was difficult to get the bottom and sides the same thickness.
I knew I wanted to do a pastry cream filling topped with fresh fruit as it is one of my favorite desserts. I used Dorie Greenspan’s pastry cream recipe and it was absolutely delicious. I always stayed away from pastry thinking it was too difficult but thanks to The Daring Bakers I am conquering many of my baking fears!
Even though I thought my finished crostata looked great I was still hesitant to share it with other people without trying it first. Turns out there was no need to worry because the ladies at my Bible study loved it! Yes, the crust was more like a hard shortbread cookie but at least it tasted good. I am glad I decided on the tart blackberries as they paired nicely with the slight sweetness of the pastry cream and mango. Regardless of my dough drama this was a great challenge. I look forward to giving the pastry dough another try with the tips I learned from my fellow Daring Bakers! Check out the blogroll to see their amazing crostate.
Pasta frolla recipe
- scant 3/4 cup (180ml, 90g, 3oz) of powdered sugar
- 1 and 3/4 cups (420ml, 235g, 8 1/4 oz) all-purpose flour
- pinch of salt
- 1 stick of cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- grated zest of 1/2 a lemon
- 1 large egg and 1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten
1. Whisk together the flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl.
2. Rub or cut the butter into the flour until the mixture had 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 flour and butter mixture and pour in the beaten eggs. Add the lemon zest to the 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 and then shape the dough into a flat disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill the dough in the refrigerator for at least two hours.
4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Roll out the pasta frolla on a lightly floured surface to 1/8 inch thick and cover the base of the tart pan. Cut a piece of parchment paper or foil large enough to cover the bottom of the crust and extend out a bit over the edges of the pan. Cover the base with either pie weights or dry beans and place tart pan on a baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes.
5. Remove the weights/beans and parchment paper/foil and continue baking the crostata shell until the border is lightly golden, about 5 minutes.
Pastry cream recipe
- 2 cups whole milk
- 6 large egg yolks
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup cornstarch, sifted
- 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 3 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into bits at room temp
1. Bring the milk to a boil in a small pan. Meanwhile in a heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk the yolks together with the sugar and cornstarch until thick and well blended. Still whisking, drizzle in about 1/4 cup of the hot milk- this will temper, or warm, the yolks so they won’t curdle. Whisking all the while, slowly pour in the remainder of the milk. Put the pan over medium heat and whisking vigorously, constantly and thoroughly (making sure to get the edges of the pot) bring the mixture to a boil. Keep at a boil, still whisking, for 1 to 2 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat.
2. Whisk in the vanilla extract and let sit for 5 minutes. Then whisk in the bits of butter, stirring until they are fully incorporated and the pastry cream is smooth and silky. Scrape the cream into a bowl and press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the cream to create an airtight seal. Refrigerate the pastry cream until cold (can be kept tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days).
Assembling the crostata
Smooth the pastry cream by giving it a couple of strong turns with a whisk. Spoon enough of the pastry cream into the crostata shell to come almost to the rim then even the surface with a rubber spatula. Then layer your fruit of choice in whatever design tickles your fancy. I used 12oz of blackberries and 1 1/2 mangoes (sliced). Let the crostata sit at room temperature for 30 minutes or so before serving.