Baking Crostata

This week I learned to make Crostata, an Italian tart made with a pasta frolla crust and filled with fruit preserves, or fresh fruit and pastry cream. In essence, a crostata is a fancy soundin’ name for a pie. I made mine in two varieties- cherry almond and caramel rhubarb, and both tasted pretty darn good.
crostata ready to bake
I have had my share of battles with sticky rolling pins and torn-to-shreds pastry dough in the past. As a result, I haven’t made a tart in a very long time. If pressed, I’m usually one to opt for ready-made frozen pastry sheets (gasp!). With this in mind, when I made the pastry for these crostata I reused a trick I learned while making sugar cookies, I rolled the dough out between two sheets of cling film. It worked! This made the once stressful job much much smoother, the rolling pin didn’t stick and the dough was easy to shuffle around without tearing. When ready to transfer the pastry to the tart pan I just peeled off the top layer of cling film, flipped the pastry into the pan and peeled off the other side of cling film. Voila!

Pasta Frolla

Makes two 6″ tarts

  • 3/4 cup icing sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups plain flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 115g cold butter, chopped into small cubes
  • 1 large egg and 1 egg yolk
  • Grated zest of half a lemon (optional)

In a bowl, mix together the flour, sugar and salt. Cut or rub the butter into the flour until it resembles coarse crumbs. Make a well in the center and pour in the beaten eggs. Add zest if using. Mix the egg into the flour using a fork. Continue mixing until a dough begins to form, use your hands to lightly knead the dough into a ball. Mold the dough into a flat disk, wrap in cling film and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Take the dough from the fridge and place on your working surface on top of a large sheet of cling film. Place another sheet of cling film on top and roll the dough out to a thickness of approx 3mm. Remove the top layer of cling film and flip the pastry sheet into the tart pan, position it and press it gently into place. Peel off the remaining cling film layer and trim away any extra pastry from the edges. Prick the base of the pastry case with a fork a few times.

Caramel Rhubarb Tart Filling

The caramel rhubarb filling is one I grew up with and a definite winter favourite for me. Chopped rhubarb drizzled in a syrup made with equal parts flour, brown sugar, golden syrup and milk. Simple. Served warm with a big scoop of ice cream I could eat the whole pie by myself. Not saying that’s what I did… but I’m not denying it either.

  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 2 tablespoons golden syrup
  • 2 tablespoons plain flour
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups rhubarb chopped

Mix the milk, golden syrup, flour and sugar to a smooth syrup. Sprinkle the rhubarb in an even layer across the base of the pastry-lined tart pan. Drizzle the caramel evenly over the top. If desired you can now use the remaining pastry scraps to make a lattice over the top of the pie. Glaze pastry lightly with an egg wash and bake for 30-40 mins at 180C.

rhubarb caramel crostata

Cherry almond tart filling

The cherry almond filling was adapted from a delicious recipe on MyTartelette. If you haven’t seen her blog yet then you’re missing out – the food photography, the recipes, the macarons *gush* they are all simply beautiful. I used a half portion of Tartelette’s almond filling (recipe here) and combined it with black cherries rather than apricots. As with the rhubarb tart, bake in the oven for 30 – 40 mins at 180C. Don’t worry if the center still looks quite jiggly when you take it out, once the tart cools the filling will set a little more.

almond cherry 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 Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well.

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