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.]
OMG your crostate look so wonderful and I bet they were tasty I just love the fillings. And thank you for hosting this month's challenge it was a great choice for the Daring Bakers'. Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.
Posted by: Audax Artifex | November 27, 2010 at 03:19 AM
Both your crostata fillings sound so delicious! And thank you for hosting the challenge, it was my first one and I really enjoyed it.
Posted by: Sheena | November 27, 2010 at 03:52 AM
Mmm...I like the sound of both fillings for the 2 tarts you made. Thank you for the challenge. I made two as well but used mangoes as they are currently in season in Australia.
Posted by: Mei Sze | November 27, 2010 at 03:59 AM
Your crostata looks awesome, fillings sound yumm! Thank you for hosting this months DB challenge!. ♥
Posted by: Account Deleted | November 27, 2010 at 04:02 AM
Thanks for hosting the fantastic challenge Simona,love your apple and cheese filling :D
Posted by: Yasmeen | November 27, 2010 at 04:49 AM
Merci beaucoup pour le choix de ce défi, c'était vraiment fabuleux.
Je l'ai fait dans la pure tradition italienne et c'était fantastique :)
Posted by: isabelle | November 27, 2010 at 05:25 AM
Thanks for such a fantastic challenge, Simona! The pasta frolla was such a success. Everyone loved it and I'll certainly be using it again. Your own crostata look beautiful. I'm especially taken with the pear and chocolate. Delicious!
Posted by: Suz | November 27, 2010 at 06:38 AM
Love the pear and chocolate combination. And thanks so much for picking croatata for us to make. We thoroughly enjoyed ours and I love the shortcrust pastry recipe.
Posted by: Aparna | November 27, 2010 at 06:39 AM
You absolutely needn't have worried - this was an amazing challenge that inspired such creativity in all of the Daring Bakers, I don't think there is any way you could have seen a better response! Thank you so much for hosting such a great challenge, providing such delicious recipes, and for all of your help and support!!
Posted by: Shelley C | November 27, 2010 at 07:31 AM
Thanks, Simona for this wonderful challenge! And special gratitudes for your extra effort to share pear chocolate crostata and apple butter Chesire cheese crostata with us! Thumbs up!!
Posted by: bake in paris | November 27, 2010 at 08:41 AM
Thank you so much for being such a wonderful, supportive host, and for introducing us to the fabulousness that is crostate! That pear and chocolate crostata looks almost too good to eat... almost!! Thank you so much!!
Posted by: Ruth H. | November 27, 2010 at 09:44 AM
Hello everybody and thanks for your kind words. I am glad you had a good time making crostata this month. I hope you will make it again in the future. Now, I am off to take a close look at your creations.
Posted by: Simona Carini | November 27, 2010 at 12:28 PM
Wow, looks wonderful. I shall try and make it.
Posted by: Ivy | November 27, 2010 at 01:39 PM
Thank you for hosting this challenge! I had so much fun and got to experience a dessert that I've never tried before. I love the sound of your apple and cheese crostata!
Posted by: Jeanne | November 27, 2010 at 02:01 PM
Thanks so much for hosting this month! Your challenge was just the thing to bring out the Daring Bakers creativity. I have so many more ideas, but just need to find the time. Your crostate sound delicious and look beautiful too.
Posted by: Mary | November 27, 2010 at 02:15 PM
Simona, thank you for the wonderful challenge! Absolutely loved the crust, it very quickly became a favorite! Your fillings look divine, will have to give them a try!
Posted by: Anna | November 27, 2010 at 02:21 PM
Thanks for a great challenge, Simona! The cheddar/apple and chocolate pear crostate sound luscious.
Posted by: Laura | November 27, 2010 at 04:59 PM
Thank you for the wonderful challenge! It was my first time doing a challenge and I had a great time. Your two flavor combos look mouth watering
Posted by: Stephanie | November 27, 2010 at 05:04 PM
Thanks for hosting this month. I had fun making one of my favorite versions or crostata.
The apple and cheese version sounds awesome!
Posted by: Laura | November 27, 2010 at 06:29 PM
I will have to try the pear and chocolate. It sounds so good.
Posted by: Heather | November 27, 2010 at 07:05 PM
Thanks for choosing a wonderful challenge that one could experiment regarding the fillings.
Posted by: Rachel | November 27, 2010 at 07:36 PM
Thanks for the challenge! It brought me back into the DB after a hiatus.
Posted by: JennyBakes | November 27, 2010 at 08:51 PM
Oh wow - pear and chocolate? Apple and cheese? I now want to rush out and make these too. What wonderful flavours. Thanks for being our host this month - it has been fun to see all the variations of crostata.
Posted by: Cakelaw | November 27, 2010 at 11:22 PM
OMG, two more crostate that I have to try soon!
Thanks again for hosting such a great challenge! The pasta frolla recipe is simply delicious and I will use it in the future!
Posted by: Sweet Artichoke | November 28, 2010 at 11:12 AM
Wow! They look great! I think the only flavour pairing better than pear and chocolate is apple & cheese.
Posted by: Foodycat | November 28, 2010 at 11:18 AM
io sarei attratta più dalla seconda.....confesso...il formaggio mi attira più della cioccolata ^_____^ e a maggior ragione se il formaggio è tuo, l'apple butter è sinonimo dell'applesauce? ciauzzzzzzz
Posted by: astrofiammante | November 28, 2010 at 11:27 AM
Grazie mille per il tuo commento. La crostata e buonissima.
Posted by: Tartasacher | November 28, 2010 at 11:40 AM
Mmmmm I thought the pear and chocolate sounded nice and then I spied the apple and cheese version. Although I normally lean towards sweet I would adore to taste this pie it sounds like an amazing combination.
Posted by: Linda V @ Bubble and Sweet | November 28, 2010 at 11:54 AM
Thanks everybody for the kind words. I am really glad you had fun with my choice of challenge. With the Holidays coming up, I hope having crostata in your repertoire will be helpful. A crostata is such a nice dessert to share.
Ciao Ivy. I am sure your rendition will be very interesting and elegant.
Ciao Astro. Avevo visto delle ricette della apple pie con il formaggio e da li' mi e' venuta l'idea. No, non sono la stessa cosa. Per fare l'applesauce le mele si cuociono relativamente poco, fino a che sono sfatte, con acqua o succo di mele. Di fatto in questo tu ne sai piu' di me, visto che l'hai fatta di recente, mentre io non l'ho mai fatta. Il burro di mele di solito ha zucchero e spezie (cannella, chiodi di garofano, ecc. a seconda della ricetta) e viene cotto a lungo (piu' a lungo che nel caso della marmellata) finche' non diventa piuttosto denso. Nel caso della crostata, sconsiglierei di usare l'applesauce perche' e' molto bagnata. Fammi sapere se sei interessata a fare il burro di mele e ti mando una ricetta in italiano.
Posted by: Simona Carini | November 28, 2010 at 12:20 PM
Thanks for hosting this month. I really enjoyed making my chocolate and pastry cream crostata. Next time I think I will try a simple pastry cream one like you described. Your apple, apple butter, and cheese crostata looks delicious - and a lot of work since you made the apple butter and cheese.
I love the idea of the mp3's on the blog. I had not seen that before. Maybe it can help some of us non-Italian speakers sound a little smarter when talking about or ordering Italian food.
Posted by: Todd | November 28, 2010 at 12:44 PM
Thanks for hosting this month challenge! i really loved your version of pastafrola, quite different from mine but extremely delicious!
Posted by: Juls @ Juls' Kitchen | November 28, 2010 at 01:45 PM
The chocolate pear crostata is so beautiful, and I'm very intrigued by the apple cheese one. Thanks so much for this challenge, Simona! The pasta frolla recipe was delicious. It allowed so much versatility and was a great first challenge for me.
Posted by: Jessica @ bake me away! | November 28, 2010 at 02:53 PM
Grazie Simona! You really made me rethink my opinion of crostata. I actually made another batch of pasta frolla straight after I posted about the challenge. Which is the fastest I've ever revisited a daring baker's challenge!! And it was a success second time around too. This is now my go-to pasta frolla recipe. Thank you :) I'm really keen to try and find a translated copy of the book too, so thanks for intorducing it to us.
Posted by: shaz | November 28, 2010 at 02:55 PM
Simona, you did such an amazing job with this month's challenge. I'm so sorry I missed it. Your crostata looks delicious.
Posted by: Sandy | November 28, 2010 at 03:05 PM
This is awesome! Awesome that you are host. Awesome crostate. Yum, yum, yum!
Posted by: Paz | November 28, 2010 at 04:12 PM
Thanks for this wonderful challenge Simona. The crostata and the filling is awesome. Beautiful pictures.
Posted by: pavithra | November 28, 2010 at 08:57 PM
Wonderfull challenge, Simona!
I'm so glad I found your blog as it's really interesting to read about your cheese experience! I'm trying with the cheese making but for now I'm just throwing cheese away :(
Posted by: Silvia | November 29, 2010 at 01:05 AM
Your Crostata looks wonderful. Only, pumpkin is one of the few foods that I don't like. : ( Anyway, it was a great challenge and thanks for the comment on my persimmon Crostata. :)
Posted by: Tadeja | November 29, 2010 at 02:57 AM
It It seems that I'm a little mixed up something! ;)) There's no pumpkin! ;))
I like the idea of cheese and apples. :)
Posted by: Tadeja | November 29, 2010 at 03:07 AM
Wonderful crostate! Both look so delicious. Cheese and apple, mmmhh that sounds so good.
Posted by: Rosa | November 29, 2010 at 08:13 AM
It was a great challenge many thanks! It showed just how easy pastry making can be even though it's something I normally shy away from. I intend to use the pasta frolla recipe more in future so thanks again!
Love your pear and chocolate filling - it really looks to die for! Yum!
Posted by: Nicola | November 29, 2010 at 08:56 AM
Sei troppo brava... Mi vien voglia di andare di corsa a casa tua, se non altro per godere dei profumini, se non fosse per i 4000+ chilometri che ci separano. Ciauuu Cinzia
Posted by: Cynthia | November 29, 2010 at 12:07 PM
Congratulations on a wonderful challenge! Your dedication in creating the recipe was tremendous. I don't think we've ever seen a host put in that much effort. Sei stata bravissima!
Posted by: Ivonne | November 29, 2010 at 05:01 PM
sono interessantissima alla ricetta del burro di mele, appena hai tempo, manda manda ;-)) grazieee!
Posted by: astrofiammante | November 30, 2010 at 06:28 AM
Thanks everybody for the kind words. You make me blush. I am so very happy you enjoyed the challenge. Thank you!
Hi Todd. I am glad you like the mp3 idea. Helping non-Italian speakers was the goal I had in mind when I started doing it. So, when you have a question about a food-related Italian word, you may check here. Also, if there is a word that interests you, let me know, and I'll be glad to cover it in a post.
Shaz, I am so glad! Thanks for sharing this with me.
Hi Sandy. Maybe you'll find a reason soon to make a crostata even though the challenge is over.
Dear Silvia, please don't give up. Let me know if I can be of help: I'd be glad to.
Ciao Cinzia. Se uno di questi giorni vieni in California a fare un giro, ti aspetto.
Ciao Astro. Lo faro' quanto prima. I prossimi due giorni sono un po' pieni, ma non ti preoccupare, non mi dimentico. Intanto, metti da parte un po' di mele.
Posted by: Simona Carini | November 30, 2010 at 08:38 PM
What a great post! This recipe is awesome and I'll definitely add this to my collection of gourmet Italian food.
Posted by: Chris | November 30, 2010 at 10:44 PM
I love Your recipe for crostata. It was easy and very pleasant job. I will use dough for other tart because its very tasty.
Thank You for nice challange!
Posted by: Ewa | December 01, 2010 at 11:12 PM
Thank you for such a great challenge, Simona! The first pasta frolla recipe is the BEST I've ever had and will use it forever when I bake crostatas :)
Posted by: Lisa | December 02, 2010 at 06:11 AM
Your choice of challenge was fabulous. I must say that Pasta Frolla (now I can call it that.. very charming!) is one of my favorite things to use in my kitchen. I really love it! In this challenge, I learned the free form crostata which I loved and had never done. And, of course, I had to do my all time favorite dessert filling, lime.
I love your pear and chocolate crostata. How many crostate did you make altogether this month?? :o)
Thanks for hosting this fabulous challenge!
Posted by: Account Deleted | December 02, 2010 at 10:51 AM
Your own crostatas look amazing and I want to thank you so much for a fabulous challenge. The pasta frolla is my new staple pie crust.
Posted by: [email protected] | December 02, 2010 at 06:54 PM
Thank you so much for the kind words. I am very glad you all liked the pasta frolla recipe and enjoyed making crostata, a dessert that is so dear to me. Every time you make pasta frolla again, it will bring a smile to my face.
Posted by: Simona Carini | December 05, 2010 at 10:28 PM
Hi Simona, It was very kind of you to visit my blog and leave such wonderful comments, thank you very much for this challenge, and as you saw in my blog I really enjoyed it, Your crostatas are so cute and look so delicious, I will try them too soon... thanks dear
Posted by: Jayasri | December 21, 2010 at 01:30 PM
great challenge! very nice idea to bake something simple buy yummy!
Posted by: juliana | January 14, 2011 at 10:31 AM
Hi Jayasri: it was my pleasure. It was nice to read that you enjoyed the challenge.
Thanks, Juliana, for your kind words.
Posted by: Simona Carini | January 16, 2011 at 03:08 PM