Daring Bakers Challenge November 2010: 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 Sience in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well

Pasta Frolla is essentially sweet shortcrust pastry and is used as a base for many dessert tarts, pies and can even be baked on its own into biscuits or cookies. Simona provided two recipe versions of pasta frolla; the filling was open to our own interpretation and I’ve decided to make two tarts using luscious mangoes which are in season now in Australia.

  

My first rendition of the Crostata challenge was a crème pâtissière filled blind-baked tart shell, topped with fresh mango slices, scattered blueberries for contrast and passionfruit pulp for added zing!  

Rendition No. 2 was a baked mango and frangipane (almond cream) tart  

Hmmm…I think I prefer the mango and frangipane tart; possibly because the pastry cream version was made in a hurry and served when the custard hasn’t quite set yet. Nevertheless, anything with mangoes will taste sublime! The first one was refreshing; the sweet burst of juicy mangoes and blueberries with custard was a stark contrast to the almost sticky caramelised mangoes in the Grand Marnier laced frangipane version. Although I did make a boo boo with my second version; I probably should have baked the frangipane mixture in the unbaked tart shell rather than blind-baking it first. The latter resulted in a slightly burnt pastry shell as I doubled baked it!  

I’ve decided to use Simona’s pasta frolla recipe version 2 which uses a combination of wheat, pastry and barley flours and almond meal. This  yielded a much softer, stickier dough than other sweet pastry recipes I’ve used before but the 2 hour to overnight resting/chilling time firms up the dough and makes it easier to roll out. The resulting baked pastry shell was really nice: crisp  and quite buttery.   

Click here for Simona’s Crostata entry and her Pasta Frolla recipes   

       

Below is Version 2 of Pasta Frolla provided by Simona for the Daring Bakers Challenge. I’ve only copied out the metric measurements. I’ve also included the crème pâtissière recipe I used for the fresh mango and blueberry crostata I’ve baked. As for the second baked mango frangipane, I would still have to test it without blind-baking the tart shell first. 

Fresh Mango & Blueberry Custard Tart  

Pasta Frolla 

75 g      superfine/caster sugar
65 g      unbleached all-purpose flour
65 g      whole-wheat pastry flour
28 g      almond flour, or almond meal, or coconut flour
28 g      whole-grain barley flour or unbleached all-purpose flour
a pinch of salt
85 g      cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1             large egg, lightly beaten
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract 

Method  

By hand: 

  1. Whisk together sugar, flours and salt in a bowl.
  2. Rub or cut the butter into the sugar and flour mixture until it 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 flour and butter mixture and pour the beaten egg and vanilla extract into it.
  4. Use a fork to incorporate the liquid into mixture and then use your fingertips.
  5. Knead lightly just until the dough comes together into a ball.
  6. 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.

With a food processor:

  1. Put sugar, flour, and salt in the bowl of 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. Make a well in the center of the mounded flour and butter mixture and pour the beaten egg and vanilla extract into it.
  5. Use a fork to incorporate the liquid into the solid ingredients 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. 

Directions to assemble and bake a crostata di frutta fresca (with fresh fruit)

  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF [180ºC/gas mark 4].
  2. Roll out a batch of the pasta frolla and cover the base of the tart pan. (You can use Version 1 or 2: if you use Version 1, you will have more leftover pasta frolla to turn into cookies.)
  3. 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.
  4. You can use pie weights or dry beans to blind bake. Place whatever weight you’re using directly on the parchment paper or aluminum foil in an even layer.
  5. Place the crostata shell in the oven and bake for 20 minutes.
  6. 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.
  7. Remove from the oven and let the crostata shell cool completely before proceeding.
  8. If you use a tart pan with removable bottom, release the base from the fluted tart ring, then slide the cooled crostata shell on a serving plate for filling. (Note: If you’ve used a cake pan or pie plate, use a bit of care in taking the shell out of the baking vessel.)
  9. Spread the prepared pastry cream over the cooled shell.
  10. Decorate the surface with fresh fruit. The crostata must be cool, but not cold, so if you refrigerate it, take it out of the fridge half an hour before serving. This crostata is best eaten the same day it is prepared.

Creme Patissiere
(Adapted from ‘Roasted Nectarine Tart’ from Australian Women’s Weekly COOK book)

300 ml                 thickened cream
250 ml                 milk
  110 g                   caster sugar
     1                         vanilla bean
     3                         egg yolks
2 tablespoons    cornflour
    90 g                    unsalted butter, chopped

Method
  1.  Combine cream, milk and sugar in medium saucepan.
  2. Split vanilla bean in half lengthways, scrape seeds into pan, then add pod; bring to the boil; remove from heat; discard pod.
  3. Beat egg yolks in small bowl with electric mixer ( I just whisked it vigorously by hand) until thick and creamy; beat in cornflour; gradually beat in hot cream mixture.
  4. Strain mixture into same cleaned saucepan; stir over heat until mixture boils and thickens.
  5. Remove from heat; whisk in butter.
  6. Cover surface of custard with plastic (cling) wrap; cool to room temperature. 

Toppings

  • I used 2 1/2 ripe Kensington Pride mangoes (cut into slices) and a handful of washed & drained frozen blueberries; fresh is best but I didn’t buy any. I also topped it with the pulp of 2 passionfruit
  • The choices are endless: you can use, kiwi, peaches, nectarines, grapes, cherries, strawberries, raspberries etc. 
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