Saturday, November 27, 2010

Daring Baker Challenge - Pasta Frolla Crostatas

Aren't I crazy..... take up so much more than I can chew..... Challenge says make a crostata.... I must experiment with flavours.... I make 2 sweet and a savoury one, Pineapple topped with Black Grapes,Dates n Walnuts and Spinach Crostata.
All this started at 9.30am, I have the DB challenge to complete, A train to catch for Lucknow at 9pm[still haven't packed] to attend Bhaskar's wedding[Colleague at work], Sugarfree, walnut n black current brownies to bake/cool/pack for Bhaskar's parents, Pack my bags for Lucknow and to top it all.... I decide to do 3 mini tarts with different flavours instead of making 1 tart n being done with it........
Certified Crazy...

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.
Pasta Frolla [Download the printable .pdf of the challenge HERE!]
By Simona of briciole [I halved this quantity to make a savoury n another sweet dough]
* 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.

Making pasta frolla by hand:
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.

Making pasta frolla with a food processor:
1. Put sugar, flour, salt, and lemon 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 coarse meal.
3. Empty food processor's bowl onto your work surface
4. See step 3 above and continue as explained in the following steps (minus the lemon zest, which you have already added).

Some tips from Audax, which really helped:
How to make sweet short crust pastry
The least handled dough is the best made dough.
The most important points while making pastry by hand is to
1. keep everything as cold as possible – I place the mixing bowl, the boards, the cutting utensils, the sifted flour/sugar/salt, the grated cold butter, whole egg and egg yolk for 15 minutes in the freezer to get all ingredients the same very cold temperature.
2. be quick it should only take about 2-3 minutes at most. I prefer to make the crust dough by hand so I can control the final consistency, I find using a machine is a little hit and miss.
3. use your fingertips (and only your fingertips) as little as possible (I place my fingertips into ice cold water and dry them with paper towels so they will be cold and won't melt the fat)
4. use as little liquid as possible
5. don't be delicate just quick when rubbing in the butter and you don't need a smooth dough at the end
Sift together flour, sugar and salt and place into the freezer (15 minutes) make sure you sift from a height this allows air to be incorporated into the mixture and trapped air is what makes pastry light.

Using your fingertips only (I used a pastry blender (or you can use a fork with a knife) for most of the process only using my fingertips near the end), and working very quickly, rub the fat into the flour until the mixture resembles pea-sized lumps. As you lightly rub the fat into the flour, lift it up high and let it fall back down into the bowl, which again means that air is being incorporated all the time, and air is what makes pastry light, make sure all the flour is coated with fat. Set aside in the fridge.
You want small pieces of butter coated with flour showing.
Do not keep cutting and tossing the butter so that the butter chunks all become pea sized. The butter chunks should mostly remain a bit larger than peas and vary in size, ranging from lima bean size to pea size. This is where most people go wrong and 'rub' the butter too long until it starts to melt into the flour – the idea is to have separate particles of butter coating the flour this produces the flakiest pastry.

How can you tell if you are doing right – smell your fingers if they smell of butter you have melted the butter into the flour and not rubbed it in – this was the “test” that I had to pass by the person who taught me to make pastry I had to make pastry and not have buttery fingers. Try it.

Assembling and baking the crostata di marmellata:
1. Heat the oven to 375ºF [190ºC/gas mark 5].
2. Take the pasta frolla out of the fridge, unwrap it and cut away ¼ of the dough. Reserve this dough to make the lattice top of the crostata. Refrigerate this dough while you work on the tart base.
3. To help roll the crostata dough, keep the dough on top of the plastic wrap that you had it wrapped in. This can help rolling the dough and can also help when transferring the dough to your pan. You can also use parchment paper for this. However, you can also roll the dough directly on a work surface if you prefer.
4. Lightly dust the top of the dough and your work surface (if you’re rolling directly on a work surface) with flour. Keep some flour handy to dust the dough as you go along.
5. If the dough is very firm, start by pressing the dough with the rolling pin from the middle to each end, moving the rolling pin by a pin's width each time; turn the dough 180 degrees and repeat; when it softens, start rolling.
6. Roll the dough into a circle about 1/8th inch (3 mm) thick.
7. If you used the plastic wrap or parchment paper as rolling surface, flip dough over the pan, centering it, and delicately press it all around so the corners are well covered. Peel away the plastic wrap.
8. Trim the excess dough hanging over the edges of the pan. Press the remaining dough around the border into the sides of the pan making sure the border is an even thickness all the way around.
9. Prick the bottom of the dough with a fork in several places.
10. Take out of the fridge the reserved pasta frolla you had cut away earlier. Roll it with your pin and cut into strips or use cookie cutters to make small shapes (this is not traditional, but it looks cute); or roll with your hands into ropes.
11. Spread the jam or fruit preserves evenly over the bottom of the crostata.
12. Use the prepared strips or rolls of dough to make a lattice over the surface, or decorate with the cut shapes. (Note: You can use dough scraps to make cookies: see the Additional Information section for some pointers)
13. Brush the border and strips of dough with the reserved beaten eggs. You can add a drop or two of water to the beaten eggs if you don’t have enough liquid.
14. Put the tart in the oven and bake for 25 minutes.
15. After 25 minutes, check the tart and continue baking until the tart is of a nice golden hue. (Note: Every oven is different. In my oven it took 34 minutes to bake the tart until golden.)
16. 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.

Blind-baking is a process often used in baking. To blind-bake a tart shell, you line the unbaked tart (once you’ve placed it in the tart pan) with parchment paper or aluminum foil. You then fill the tart with pie weights. If you don’t have pie weights, you can use dried beans. You pour these on top of the parchment paper or aluminum foil to weigh the paper down. You then bake the tart for a period of time to ensure that it is at least partially cooked. The weights help to ensure that the tart base does not bubble up during baking and that it bakes evenly. The blind-baked tart is then cooled and filled according to the recipe instructions. (Note that in the video, the dough is rolled to 1 cm [3/8th inch] thickness, thicker than than what I do.)

My Salted Spinach Crostata was made with Garlic, Onions, Spinach, Cheese and lightly beaten eggs.

After making sauteing Garlic, Onions, Spinach, cool the mixture. In another bowl beat cheese, 2 spoons of scream and eggs. Stir in the 2 mixtures and adjust seasoning to taste[had used Vibha's seasoning in the dough too along with grated nutmeg]. Fill this mixture in chilled salted tart cases. Bake in preheated oven till golden brown.

This is my fruit Crostata with sweet pastry[had added cinnamon to the pastry for the extra punch :) ], sliced Pineapples topped with Black Grapes. The citrus flavour was very well balanced by the sweet grapes... wish I had the time to make some vanilla pastry cream or custard to go with this one...

This is my mom's favourite Crostata.... Dates and Walnuts. Chop up soaked/softened seedless dates, fill in blind baked pastry shell, generously sprinkle with chopped walnuts.

My mamu[Mom's brother] came over to visit us as he was in town.... The timing was perfect..... The crostatas were just rolling out of the oven.....

They were polished off straight out of the oven..... After the pictures, even the crumbs were gone...

Thank you of Simona for this lovely challenge :)


Simran said...

You got such unusual and lovely flavors!

Audax said...

WOW three types of tarts; pineapple and grapes, spinach, and dates and walnuts they all sound delicious and I agree with your mum dates and walnuts sounds like the one for me. Great pictures as well. Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

shaz said...

Ha ha ha, not crazy, just ultra daring! Well done on pulling it off. Great work, and all the flavours soudn good.

Renata said...

You are my hero! I could NEVER accomplish a third of that with so many other things on my way. Your mini Crostatas sound delicious and they are so cute! And you still had time to shoot the step by step!! Bravo!

Malar Gandhi said...

Awesome work...loved all the clicks and the recipe is outstanding...yummmilious.

Jennifurla said...

OMG I love this! Great baking for sure. Please send some over to me..I beg of you!

Simona said...

I'd say that you made the challenge a bit more challenging, but it looks to me like you breezed through it with ease and success. Dates and walnuts? I side with your mother in this.

Anonymous said...

Wow, those look incredible! I couldnt decide which one I would taste first. Great tip about the "butter" fingers too, I didnn't know that.

Varada said...

Amazing, N :) You are as incredible as the flavours you whisk up.
And thanks so much for the giveaway. I am thrilled. Here's my address for you:
Varada Sharma
GrapeCity Inc.,
A-15, Sector 62,


Jaime said...

wow so many variations! so ambitious! well done!

Las Vegas Weddings said...

i have already tried dates and walnuts crostata but never tried or tasted a spinach crostata. and i thank you for the recipe and the instructions. i will be making one for a vegan friend of mine. more to your cooking career.

Soma said...

The fruity ones sounds fabulous!

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Well if it helps they look delicious so you don't seem crazy at all! LOL

Nimi SunilKumar said...

Lovely variations of crostata!

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Torviewtoronto said...

delicious pictures
happy new year