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.
Thank you for a wonderful challenge, Simona! It's been a while since my last BD challenge and crostata fit the bill -- how can you go wrong with a lemony flaky crust and some delicious filling? By over thinking it... I spent a long time wondering what to use as a filling -- apples? sweet potatoes? pumpkin? cranberries? Until it was the night before Thanksgiving and I needed to bring a desert. After hours of research, I decided to go with caramelized pumpkin. The crust was by far my favorite part of my crostata-- lemony, flaky, utterly delicious. The filling fell somewhat short -- it was too sweet and I tried to correct it by adding lemon juice and zest, quite bland and pumpkin pie spices went in. As some point I was close to giving up and swinging by the store to pick a dessert but somehow, after cooling, the flavor somehow blended wonderfully. I will not be using the pumpkin recipe again, will some more worth while filling.
•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.