The November 2010 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. Crostata, is an Italian tart made with a base of pasta frolla, a sweet pastry crust made from flour, sugar, butter, and eggs. Pasta frolla is very versatile. While I chose to make my Crostata with strawberry jam, you can also fill it with pastry cream, ricotta, fresh fruit, and many other ingredients.
This month's challenge was particularly special for me as it brought back memories of one of my oldest and best friends. Ever since Kindergarten my family and I have gone to my friend's house on Christmas day and her family prepares the most amazing authentic Italian meal. The night would never be complete without the Crostata. I came to love the Crostata over the years and would occasionally arrive early to lend my hand in making my most memorable cake.
While nothing will really ever compare to my friend's Crostata, my dinner guests gave my version two thumbs up. The smell of the Crostata while it was baking and then after removing it from the oven was absolutely delectable. And the taste lived up to the smell. The crust had the slightest hint of sweetness which complimented the strawberry jam nicely.
adapted from Baking History
2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, diced
1 egg yolk
1 cup (about 1 jar) fruit jam
If the granulated sugar is coarse, it is preferable to process it briefly in a food processor or coffee grinder. Mix the flour and sugar, then work in the butter with the tip of your fingers until the mixture resembles wet sand. Add the egg and yolk and work briefly until the dough just holds together. It is important not to overwork the dough (do not knead it) or it will harden when baked.
A food processor also works perfectly to make the dough: start by placing flour and sugar in the work bowl, process for a few seconds to mix, then add the butter and pulse a few times until the mixture looks like wet sand. Add the egg and yolk and process a few more seconds until the dough forms. Do not over-process. You may need to work the dough together in a separate bowl after the food processor.
Wrap the dough in wax paper and let it rest in a cool place for at least 30 minutes.
On a lightly floured surface roll 2/3 of the pastry dough to a 1/8-in (3 mm) thickness. Then line the bottom and sides of a 9-in (23 cm) tart pan with scalloped edges and a removable bottom. The sides should be lined with a slightly thicker layer of pastry than the bottom, about 1/4-in (0.5 cm). Fold back the dough that is hanging over the sides to make a thicker lining along the sides. Cut off the excess. Prick the pastry bottom in a few places with the tines of a fork, then spread with the jam.
Roll the remaining pastry on a lightly floured surface slightly thicker than 1/8-in (3 mm), then with a sharp knife or pastry cutter cut it in strips 1/4-inch (0.5 cm) wide and make a lattice on top of the jam layer. There might be some leftover pastry.