Saturday, November 27, 2010

Crostada con crema

It's November 27th and you know what that means. It's a Daring Bakers post day!

As people always seem confused by the Daring Bakers concept, let me clarify. Daring Bakers is not a competition-- it's a challenge. People from all over the world are part of this online group that gets challenged every month to tackle a new dish, entirely from scratch. As part of the group, we have to participate in at least 8 challenges every year. And to help each other out there are forums for questions/comments/sharing.

So no, there are no prizes and nobody wins. (Sorry to break it to you.) It's just a great motivation to push yourself while learning something new!

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.

A tart. With lemon. And lavender!!

Pasta Frolla is a shortbread-like crust. The best way I can describe it is the offspring of a sugar cookie and pie dough: tender yet slightly crispy with the perfect amount of sweetness to make you want to eat the entire crust by itself.

The crust on the edges was the best part!!!

The challenge allowed us to be as creative with the filling as we wanted. Fruit, chocolate, caramel, marzipan, custard-- the sky was the limit. I decided to use a crema recipe (cooked custard type filling) that was provided. But instead of just infusing it with lemon I decided to kick it up a notch and use lavender too.

There's something about the combination of lavender + fat 
that makes my tastebuds soooo happy.

You know what else made my tastebuds happy? The crust.

Butter and sugar makes me happy

As you can tell I absolutely loved the crust. But to be honest, I didn't totally love the filling. I liked the flavor of the custard sauce once it was done cooking on the stove-top, since it was very similar to a creme anglaise or pastry cream.

But once I baked it in the oven, the filling tasted eggy to me. Not horrible, but just enough to make me say "meh."

But this dough recipe- it's DEFINITELY a keeper. I can just imagine how good it would be cooked with a fruit filling. Or cooking the crust separately and filling it with deliciousness. Like pastry cream topped with fruit or banana cream or salted caramel with ganache or chocolate pudding.

Or eliminating the sugar entirely and using the crust in a savory dish, like a quiche or veggie tart.

Ahhh, the possibilities are endless. As is my hunger for delicious food.

Buen Provecho,

click below for the recipes

Pasta frolla, from Daring Bakers

Some notes and great links on the tricks to great pie dough below


1/2 cup minus 1 tablespoon [105 ml, 100 g, 3 ½ oz] superfine sugar* 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 or orange, ~1 tsp or so
1 large egg and 1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten in a small bowl
ice cold water, if needed

*Superfine sugar is often also referred to as ultrafine, baker’s sugar or caster sugar. If you cannot find “superfine” sugar (which is harder/more expensive here in the US), 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.

Directions, by hand

1. Whisk together sugar, flour and salt in a bowl.
2. Rub or cut the butter into the flour using knives, forks or a pastry cutter until the mixture has the consistency of very coarse crumbs. These should be pea to lima bean sized clumps.
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).
4. Add the citrus 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. Add ice cold water, one tablespoon at a time, just until the dough barely comes together. (Grab a handful and make a fist. If the dough crumbles add more water. If it holds together it's done, even if it has slightly crumbly edges.)
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 or overnight.

Directions, with a food processor:

1. Put sugar, flour, salt, and citrus zest in the food processor and pulse a few times to mix.
2. Add butter and pulse a few times, until the mixture has the consistency of very coarse meal.
3. Empty food processor's bowl onto your work surface
See step 3 above and continue as explained in the following steps (minus the citrus zest, which you have already added).

After the dough has rested

Note: Remove 1/4 of the dough for the lattice top. If you're not using a lattice top, you can reserve the leftover dough and make cookies out of it (baked at 350/375˚F)

1. Roll out the remaining pastry dough between two sheets of waxed paper, plastic wrap, or on a lightly floured surface until it is ~1/8" or 3 mm thick.
2. Gently place into tart or pie pan. Prick with a fork and put it back in the fridge for 30 minutes to cool.

At this point you can fill the crust (fruit, crema, etc) and bake the filling + crust together (see crema recipe below) or you can blind bake the crust first.

To blind bake the crust

1. Preheat oven to 350˚F [180ºC/gas mark 4].
2. Cut a piece of parchment paper or aluminum foil large enough to cover the bottom of the crust and extend out a bit over the edges of the pan.
3. Fill the crust with pie weights or dry beans in an even layer.
4. Place the crostata shell on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes.
5. Remove the weights and parchment paper and continue baking the crostata shell until the border is light golden, about 5 minutes (watch carefully to avoid over-baking, which results in a hard shell). In the absence of weight, the crust may rise in the middle: if that occurs, gently push it back down with the back of a spoon.
6. Remove from the oven and let the crostata shell cool completely before proceeding.

Tips on making deliciously flaky dough:
* Keep everything AS COLD AS POSSIBLE. Put the bowl with the flour + sugar mixture in the fridge to cool down for a few minutes. Cut the butter into small pieces then put it back in the fridge to cool some more. Use ice-cold water when adding liquid to the dough. Make sure everything is cold cold cold.

* Avoid touching the dough mixture as much as possible. You don't want the butter to melt at all during this point and your fingers will very easily melt the butter. This is why a pastry cutter or forks are best to use when cutting the butter into the flour vs. your fingers.

* You want the butter and flour mixture to turn into a nice coarse, crumbly mixture. You'll have some butter chunks the size of peas, others will be the size of lima beans. Don't work the butter into the flour so much that you can't see it anymore.

*Add cold water 1 TBSP at a time to the dough. You don't want it to be sticky or tacky at any point. You want juuuuuust enough water to hold it together. In fact, it still might look a bit crumbly at the edges. That's fine. To test for doneness I like to grab a golfball sized piece of dough and make a fist. If it falls apart into crumbs then you need to add more water. But once it can hold itself together, even if it still looks crumbly, then it's good to go- do not add more water!

* After you've rolled out the dough and put it in the tart pan, stick it back in the fridge. This way you'll get the biggest temperature difference when the cold crust is popped into the hot oven.

Crostada con crema y lavender 


2 large or extra-large eggs
1/3 cup sugar (65 g)
500 ml milk (slightly more than 2 cups)
Strips of lemon peel from 1 lemon
3 tablespoons pastry (or unbleached regular) flour (25 g)
1 TBSP dried lavender flowers (optional)
1 recipe pasta frolla, rolled out and chilled with leftover dough (optional)


1. Pour the milk into a pan, add the lemon peel and warm up to to well below boiling point. Add lavender flowers and allow to steep for at least 5-30 minutes.
2. In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs with the sugar until the mixture is bubbly. Sift the flour over the egg mixture and beat briefly until it is incorporated.
3. Temper the egg mixture with a small quantity of milk, then slowly add the rest of the milk, mixing with a wooden spoon. Pour the mixture into the pan and set it to very low heat, stirring at least every couple of minutes.
4. When the froth on the surface disappears completely, the crema starts to feel slightly thicker. From then on stir almost continuously. When the crema reaches boiling temperature and thickens (~160˚F), cook briefly (1-2 minutes), then remove the pan from the heat.
5. Strain the cream into a bowl and chill the bowl in an ice-water bath to bring down its temperature. While the crema cools down, stir it every now and then to prevent the formation of a film over it.

Assembling and baking the crostata

1. Heat the oven to 350ºF [180ºC/gas mark 4].
2. Fill the cold tart shell with the cooled crema filling.
3. Use the leftover dough to make strips for the lattice over the surface, or decorate with the cut shapes
4. Gently brush the border and strips of dough with the reserved beaten eggs. (I had a hard time with this since the lattice top was sitting on top of a liquid-y crema filling)
5. Place the tart on a baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes. (I put foil around the edges of the tart to prevent it from getting too brown.)
6. After 30 minutes, check the tart, and continue baking until the tart is of a nice golden hue, another 5-15 minutes.
7. When done, remove the tart from the oven and let cool. If you have used a tart pan with a removable bottom, then release the tart base from the fluted tart ring. Make sure the tart is completely cool before slicing and serving.


Audax said...

Your crostata looks so cute and the idea of lavender crema sounds so delicious it looks like it worked perfectly for you and I agree with you the baked shell is superb.

Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

veena krishnakumar said...

Crosata looks lovely

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