November Daring Baker’s Challenge #2 – Crostata

Another sweet that I’ve never made, crostata. If you’re wondering what it is, it’s an Italian tart dessert. The base of the crostata is pasta frolla, a sweet short crust pastry (or sweet tart dough) made of the following ingredients: flour, sugar, butter, and eggs. It’s extremely versatile, which allows one to choose from many fillings including, fruit preserves, pastry cream, fresh fruit, and ricotta.

Simona from Briciole chose this month’s challenge, and I have to say she did a wonderful job. There were so many choices, I had trouble choosing just one filling.

In the end I chose to bake a Cinnamon Apple Crumb Crostata, using the Pasta Frolla Version 1 Recipe. For the filling I used a Martha Stewart’s Recipe for Apple Crumb Crostata.

Equipment Required:

  • bowls, as needed
  • fork
  • knife
  • bench (or pastry) scraper
  • rolling pin
  • pastry brush
  • 9 or 9.5-inch [23-24 cm] fluted round tart pan with removable bottom, about 1 inch [2.5 cm] high. (Note:
  • If you don’t have a tart pan with a removable bottom, don’t worry! You can make crostata using a 9-inch cake pan or even a 9-inch pie plate.
  • Food Processor (helpful, yet not required)

Preparation Time:

The following times are approximate, as the time depends on your dexterity to cut the butter and work the dough (which should not be overworked) and your familiarity with the rolling pin.
Preparing pasta frolla with a food processor takes 10-15 minutes
Preparing pasta frolla without a food processor takes 20-25 minutes
Allow the pasta frolla to chill thoroughly. I recommend at least two hours.
Rolling the pasta frolla and assembling the crostata takes 25-30 minutes, if you use fruit preserves.
Baking the crostata takes about 35 minutes, if you use fruit preserves.

Ingredients for the Pasta Frolla Version 1:

  • 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

Apple Filling

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 pounds Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • * I even threw in about a teaspoon of cinnamon

    Crumb Topping

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup packed dark-brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • For Assembly

  • Flour, for parchment
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • Granulated sugar, for sprinkling
  • Directions – Pasta Frolla Version 1

    1. Whisk together sugar, flour and salt in a bowl.

    2. 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.

    3. 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).

    4. Add the lemon zest to your flour/butter/egg mixture.

    5. Use a fork to incorporate the liquid into the solid ingredients, and then use your fingertips.

    6. Knead lightly just until the dough comes together into a ball.

    7. 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.


    Apple Filling

    1. To make the filling, melt butter in a large pan on high heat.
    2. Add apples, zests, and salt, stirring until coated.


    3. Sprinkle sugar, and saute, stirring, until sugar is dissolved, liquid has thickened, and apples are almost golden, about 5 minutes.
    4. Transfer to a baking sheet, and let cool to room temperature.

    Crumb Topping

    1. To make the crumb topping, combine flour, dark-brown sugar, granulated sugar, salt, cinnamon, allspice, and butter in a food processor, and pulse until mixture resembles coarse sand.
    2. Refrigerate until ready to use.

    Assembly

    1. To assemble, flour a piece of parchment paper.
    2. Roll chilled dough into a 1/4-inch-thick, 14-inch circle on parchment (trim excess) or use a pie pan.
    3. Place dough and parchment on cookie sheet.
    4. Mound cooled apple mixture in center, leaving a 3-inch border.
    5. Sprinkle crumb mixture on top of apples.
    6. Fold edges of the dough on top of apples, overlapping and leaving about a 6-inch round opening.


    7. Refrigerate until dough is firm, about 30 minutes.
    8. Brush edge of crust with egg, and sprinkle with sugar.


    9. Bake until pastry is golden brown and apples are tender, about 40 to 50 minutes.


    10. Serve warm or at room temperature, with vanilla ice cream.

    I served this after our Thanksgiving feast with the family. After having a formal dinner with a few close relatives, we then came home to watch ELF ! It was the perfect combination. My parents, as well as my brother, thought it was really tasty!

    Served with Vanilla Ice Cream & a dab of Apple Cinnamon Sauce, it was absolutely delicious.

    The only challenge I came across was getting the dough to stick together. When I made it, it was very tough to work with. It kept breaking and I was getting extremely frustrated. I ended up just throwing it in the pie pin, and hoping for the best.

    I put the extra dough on top, pressing it firmly into the dough on the sides so it would have the folding over effect. Although I had this challenge, I overcame it and it tasted great. The dough came out perfect.

    Thank you for this challenge Simona. It was definitely a fun way to learn something new.

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    3 responses to “November Daring Baker’s Challenge #2 – Crostata

    1. WOW it seems to me that you re-discovered the press the dough into the baking pan technique which is well know you are a wonder. I hope you are enjoying the Daring Kitchen. Your step-by-step photos are great they really show the whole process so well. And fabulous that your family liked it so much. Great effort and stunning results. Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

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