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.
Yes, you read correctly: this month I had the honor of hosting the Daring Bakers' challenge. The required part of the challenge was to make pasta frolla (sweet short crust pastry, or sweet tart dough, made with flour, butter, sugar and eggs) using either of the two recipes provided, and then use that as the base to make a crostata (tart). The recipes for pasta frolla can be found on the Daring Kitchen site. The page includes recipes for three crostate to use as is or as guides. The variations allowed, in fact, pertained the filling for the crostata: that's where the amazing creativity of the Daring Bakers shone brightly, as you can see by visiting their blogs, where you can get the relevant details.
For the occasion, I made two new crostate. But before I go into the details of my recipes, I'll share a few thoughts about what it meant to host an edition of Daring Bakers. Before the month appointed for the hosting, I chose the recipe. This was not difficult, since crostata has been a favorite dessert of mine since an early age and its versatility makes it suitable for the challenge.
Preparing the recipe made me a bit anxious, because I knew that it would be used by many people around the world. Never before had I experienced such trepidation. Once the challenge got under way, what happened was magical: an extraordinary array of crostate and crostatine (small-size crostate) came out of the Daring Bakers' ovens. I went from trepidation to exhilaration. On the Daring Kitchen page dedicated to crostata, you can see images scrolling and get a sense of the array of fillings and decorations. Take the time to visit the Daring Bakers' blogs and you will be inspired. Such inspiration can result in the production of a nice crostata (or two, or more) for your Holiday table, which will surprise and delight the commensali (guests at the table).
What did I do for this challenge, besides admiring the creativity of my fellow Daring Bakers? I prepared two crostate I had never made before. (See the Daring Kitchen page dedicated to crostata for details on how to prepare pasta frolla and to line a tart pan with it.)
crostata di pere e cioccolato (pear and chocolate crostata)
This was inspired by a recipe in the issue of the magazine Sorrisi in tavola dedicated to dessert for special days: I dolci delle feste. My mother gave it to me years ago and I rediscovered it recently while cleaning a cupboard. I used the pasta frolla version 1, because I wanted extra dough to make cookies. I baked the crust with the sliced pears distributed over it at 350 F until the border was light golden, then let it cool (see Note about baking time below). I used two large Asian pears, which worked well, since they didn't juice. They also remained crisp after baking, which I liked. For the chocolate ganache:
- 3.5 oz. (100 g) 70% chocolate
- 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream (panna da montare)
Break the chocolate into pieces and put it in a small metal bowl, then place the bowl on top of a saucepan with steaming water, taking care that the bowl does not touch the water. Stir until the chocolate is thoroughly melted. Add the cream and stir until combined. Distribute over the cooled crostata, targeting the space between pear slices.
crostata di mele, burro di mele e formaggio Cheshire (apple, apple butter and Cheshire cheese crostata)
This was inspired by the version of apple pie with Cheddar cheese. I used the pasta frolla version 2 (variation with almond meal). This crostata had four layers. Starting from the bottom layer:
- 1/2 cup homemade, low-sugar apple butter (containing various spices: I don't remember the details, because when I made the butter, I failed to note them)
- thinly sliced Stayman-Winesap apples
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Cheshire cheese of my own production (aged 4.5 months)
- thinly sliced Stayman-Winesap apples
Scanning this page on Chowhound gave me the idea of cutting the apples using my mandoline. I used the setting that gave me the thinnest slices. I assembled the crostata and baked it at 350 F until the border was light golden. Note about baking time: when I bake a crostata at 350 F, I check it after 35 minutes and assess how much longer it needs to remain in the oven, then check frequently until it is done.
Many thanks to Ivonne of Cream Puffs in Venice and Lisa of La Mia Cucina, founders of Daring Bakers, for their guidance, their patience and their support. This has been a remarkable adventure: grazie di cuore (my heartfelt thanks). And thanks to my fellow Daring Bakers for making me smile over and over again during this past four weeks as they shared images of their creations: you all did a great job.
Click on the button to hear me pronounce the Italian words and expressions mentioned in the post:
or launch the due crostate audio file [mp3].
[Depending on your set-up, the audio file will be played within the browser or by your mp3 player application. Please, contact me if you encounter any problems.]