Definitely grateful for an easy challenge this month. With Christmas fast approaching, I'm spending extra time in the kitchen preparing homemade gifts; adding an intricate baking project to the list would not be my idea of a good time...!
So, crostata. First, a buttery short crust pastry. Top that with either pastry cream or fruit preserves - I did both because I'm risque like that. Then, a lattice or cut out top crust. Bake bake bake, cool and serve.
The dough and pastry cream I made the day before and doing so allowed for quick assembly the next day. For the fruit preserves I used a vanilla pear jam I'd made this past summer.
I decided to blind bake the pastry before filling it with the pastry cream and preserves, to avoid any potential sogginess of the crust. Unfortunately, I neglected to freeze it first and the edges of the pastry shrunk down to the base - c'est la vie. I filled the shells with pastry cream and the jam and baked till the top crust was golden.
Overall impression: mediocre. Not bad, not great. Edible but not mind blowing. I most likely won't make it again, but I don't feel that it was a waste of ingredients.
1/2 cup minus 1 tablespoon superfine sugar or a scant 3/4 cup icing sugar
1 3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup unsalted butter, diced small
grated zest of half a lemon
1 large egg and 1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten
Whisk together sugar, flour and salt in a bowl. Rub or cut in the butter until the mixture forms coarse crumbs. 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 egg wash. Add lemon zest.
Use a fork to incorporate the liquid into the dry ingredients. Knead lightly until dough just comes together in a ball. Shape into a flat disk and wrap in plastic. Place in refrigerator and chill at least 2 hours or overnight.
Vanilla Pastry Cream
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 large egg yolk
3/4 cup whole milk
Combine sugar, flour, lemon zest and vanilla in a medium sized heavy bottomed saucepan. Add egg yolk and half the milk. Whisk till smooth. Turn onto low heat and cook, stirring constantly to prevent mixture from curdling. Add remaining milk a little at a time, stirring constantly. After about 12 minutes, the mixture will be thick, free of lumps and beginning to bubble. If there are lumps, press through a fine mesh strainer to remove.
Transfer pastry cream to a bowl and cool to room temperature. Cover with plastic wrap touching the surface of the cream and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.
Assembling Crostata con la Crema
Heat the oven to 350F. Take pasta frolla out of refrigerator and cut away 1/4 of the dough. Reserve and refrigerate to make the lattice top of crostata. Roll out dough to 1/8 inch thickness on a lightly floured surface. Place dough into baking dish and gently press into dish. Trim excess dough. Ensure dough is an even thickness throughout. Prick the bottom of the dough in several places.
Spread the chilled pastry cream over the bottom of the crostata. Retrieve reserved dough and roll out. Cut as desired for the top. Set over top of crostata. Brush the border and top crust with reserved beaten eggs; add a drop or two of water to thin if necessary. Bake until crostata is golden brown, approximately 35-45 minutes. Remove to wire rack and let cool completely before slicing.
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.