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.
Simona gave us lots of great information and recipes and free rein to really do what we liked with the basic idea. I followed her first recipe for pasta frolla which is an Italian sweet, shortcrust pastry. I chose to make a crostata di frutta fresca (crostata with fresh fruit) which involves the pastry, a layer of pastry cream then fresh fruit. I decided to try fresh figs with a honey glaze. It was delicious. However, next time I make it, I think I would use something like kiwi fruits as I really like the sharpness as a contrast with the pastry cream. I also found that my pastry cream hadn't set as well as I would have liked so I couldn't cut it into pretty slices. I know exactly why this was - the kids were with me in the kitchen while I was bringing the pastry cream to the boil. They were cutting shapes out of the leftover pasta frolla and kept asking me to help them or asking to get down or endless questions while I was trying to stir constantly so I was beginning to get a little stressed and harried. So, instead of letting the pastry cream come to the boil, I gave up before that point. So, of course, a runnier pastry cream than would have been ideal.
Recipe - Pasta Frolla
100g caster sugar
235g plain flour
pinch of salt
115g cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
grated zest of half a lemon
1 large egg and 1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten in a small bowl
1. Whisk together sugar, flour and salt in a bowl.
2. Rub the butter into the flour until the mixture has the consistency of coarse crumbs.
3. Make a well in the centre of the mounded flour and butter mixture and pour the beaten eggs into it.
4. Add the lemon zest.
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 disc and wrap in cling film.
8. Place the dough in the refrigerator and chill for at least two hours or overnight.
9. Heat the oven to 180C/ Gas mark 4/ 350F.
10. Take the pasta frolla out of the fridge, roll out and cover the base of your tart pan.
11. Cut a piece of parchment paper or foil large enough to cover the pastry and extend a bit past the sides.
12. Place pie weights or dry beans in an even layer over the parchment or foil.
13. Bake for 20 minutes.
14. Remove the weights and paper and continue baking until the border is light golden, about 5 mins.
15. Let cool completely.
16. Remove from tin and place on a serving plate before filling with the pastry cream.
Recipe - Crema Pasticcera.
This is Simona's Aunt Lucia's recipe.
2 extra-large eggs
3 strips of lemon peel
3 tbsp plain flour
1. Pour the milk into the pan, add the lemon peel, and warm up to well below boiling point.
2. In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs with the sugar until the mixture is bubbly.
3. Sift the flour over the egg mixture and beat briefly until incorporated.
4. Temper the egg mixture with a small quantity of milk, then slowly add the rest of the milk, mixing with a wooden spoon.
5. Pour the mixture into the pan and set it to a very low heat, stirring at least every couple of minutes. When the froth on the surface disappears completely, the crema starts to feel slightly thicker. From this point on, stir almost continuously.
6. When the crema reaches boiling point and thickens, cook briefly (1-2 mins), then remove the pan from the heat, remove the lemon peel, place the saucepan in a cold water bath, and stir to bring down its temperature.
7. While the crema cools down, stir it every now and then to prevent the formation of a film over it.
I then filled the pastry with the cream, arranged the sliced figs over the top and glazed with some heated honey.
We had some pasta frolla left over so the boys cut out some cookie shapes and we made cookies which they then decorated.