Daring Bakers’ November Challenge: Crostata

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.


I made this months challenge twice, once at the beginning of the month using the Crostata con la Crema recipe provided by the host and again later using a chocolate cream filling for my husbands birthday. The first one (crema) came out a little dry- probably due to my own error, but it looked pretty:

The Chocolate Cream recipe came from Dorie Greenspan, but I used the Crostata recipe for the crust.

The tart comes out very rich and smooth— perfect for a holiday party, especially if jazzed up with some peppermint candy canes. A little goes a long way so you can slice small pieces.

The pie slices really well after being in the refrigerator for 6 hours. It looks nice on a plate. I tend to get frustrated with overly-crumbly pies and trying to serve them!

The mini candy cane adds contrast.

The deer plate is a little much. I should have went with something plain and not patterned.Just plain red would have been best.

I’m probably a little too excited about the new pie plate I got. But I think it’s pretty and versatile. I can see using it for the holidays as well as the 4th of July- filled with a blueberry pie then of course!

Excited about the pie plate indeed. . . But I’m not as excited about that as I am about this!

I know you probably aren’t supposed to buy yourself something so big so close to the holidays but the deals on them this time of year are pretty good. I did buy the cheapest one and I decided that if I bought one it would be an investment. I’m hoping it will save me in medical bills in the future from the back aches and carpal tunnel I get from kneading so much dough! In a way, I’m not kidding. Working in the kitchen, as so many of us know, is tough work. I think those of us who still take time to bake the “old-fashioned way” deserve a little luxury since it is so time consuming and we could very well go out and buy preservative-laden goodies but we don’t— for that we are entitled to a little reward.

Pasta Frolla

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

Note 1: Superfine sugar is often also referred to as ultrafine, baker’s sugar or caster sugar. It’s available in most supermarkets. If you cannot find “superfine” sugar, you can make your own by putting some regular granulated sugar in a food processor or blender and letting it run until the sugar is finely ground.

Note 2: There are different ways of making vanilla sugar. I keep vanilla beans in a jar half-filled with sugar until I need to use them, for example, to make vanilla ice cream. After I remove the split bean from the custard that will go into the ice cream maker, I rinse it, dry it and put it back in the jar with sugar.

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.

12 Comments

  1. Posted November 27, 2010 at 12:52 am | Permalink

    Wow the pictures of this look simply amazing. Very nice

  2. Posted November 27, 2010 at 4:41 am | Permalink

    WOW of your versions look great but that chocolate one is really calling my name and the filling looks so luscious and rich well done. Great that you have a stand mixer (Kitchenaides are too expensive here in Australia $700 US dollars. Great work on this challenge I just both of them. Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

  3. Posted November 27, 2010 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    I LOVE your pie dish too. Need to get myself one of those. Your chocolate crostata looks great, too.

  4. Posted November 27, 2010 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    First of all, love that pie plate, and CONGRATS on the KitchenAid! I LOVE mine and know you will love yours too!! As for the challenge, WOW – both of your versions look fantastic, but that chocolate one is totally speaking to me. With the candy canes on top (and on the reindeer plate, too!), it just looks so perfect for the upcoming holiday season. I hope your husband enjoyed his birthday crostata!!

  5. Posted November 27, 2010 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

    That chocolate one does look rich, like you’d only need a skinny slice! And I agree with you, I love my kitchenaid! I’ve had it for over 16 years and have loved it every time I use it, so you won’t regret your purchase. Nice job on the challenge!

  6. crumbsoflove
    Posted November 27, 2010 at 9:24 pm | Permalink

    Tis the season… Great job and great photos. Congrats on your kitchenaid!! I could not live without mine. I think I have used it at least 3 times a week for the past 15 years and it still works like I bought it yesterday. The best investment ever!!!!

  7. Posted November 27, 2010 at 10:10 pm | Permalink

    Mmmm, your crostata looks wonderful! And congrats on the new Kitchen-Aid. We would be lost in the kitchen without ours!

    -K & N

  8. Posted November 28, 2010 at 2:23 am | Permalink

    Oh, the chocolate cream filling looks amazing! And I love the little candy canes on top

  9. Posted November 28, 2010 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    That chocolate one looks so luscious, and the candy canes are a nice touch! Congrats on that nice mixer! I’m lucky that my roommates have one, but it’ll be hard to move out someday…

  10. Posted November 28, 2010 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    Crostata con la Crema does look very pretty and elegant sitting on that lovely plate. Your chocolate crostata just looks too irresistble, mmmmm….. I love the pie dish, and most of all the Kitchenaid! You’re gonna love it! It’s like having an extra arm!!

  11. Posted December 8, 2010 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    Both crostate look very nice and your choice reminded me of this bakery in my home town that would make crostate half filled with pastry cream and half with chocolate cream. Then everybody gets a slice from each half to decide which one they prefer.

  12. Posted December 11, 2010 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    You will love your Kitchenaid mixer. My husband got me one for Valentine’s Day after my first son was born (so sweet). Almost 16 years later, it’s still going strong.