Nov 29, 2010

{daring bakers: rustic apple crostatas}

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.

This months Daring Bakers challenge was crostatas or tarts. Tarts are made up of a sweet short crust pastry dough and either fruit or pastry cream based fillings. With Thanksgiving coming up I decided to make an apple tart and since I had no tart pan, I went for the rustic look (which I think adds to the homeyness of it all). I adapted my filling recipe from Joy of Baking and used one of the pasta frolla recipes provided.

It was quite an adventure.

I wanted to serve the tarts on turkey day which meant I needed to assemble and bake these babies day of. I planed ahead with the hostess to make sure there would be space for me to work/bake and discovered she had three ovens! Awesome. I prepped my pasta frolla the day before and brought it with me along with the rest of the ingredients. After rolling out my dough, filling my tarts and folding over the rustic edges, I was ready to bake. I went to place my pan in the oven and what do you know, it doesn't fit! Not to worry, I thought, I'll go pre-heat the big oven downstairs and bake it in there. So, I place my tarts back in the fridge so they stay firm and run downstairs. Since there was no light indicator as to whether or not the oven was pre-heated, I decided to give it a half hour to get hot. Once the time had passed, I walked downstairs precariously holding my tarts and placed them in the oven...which wasn't really that hot but I figured it would be okay. Using my trusty iphone timer I set it for 30 minutes and walked back upstairs to mingle. The alarm goes off. I happily hop downstairs to check on the tarts and what do you know, the oven was warm enough to keep a plate warm and make my dough gooey. Fantastic. So along with some help I try to transfer the tarts to a smaller baking pan...let me tell you...gooey dough does not transfer. Thankfully, a fellow daring baker was there to advise me (and help me remain calm!) to place the pan back in the fridge to firm up again before transferring it to a smaller pan. This worked wonderfully and we ended up having the tarts with the late night turkey day snack.

Despite the bumps along the way, everything came out pretty delicious. I really loved the crust and the filling was nice and lite. I will definitely be making these again as I thought the whole process was actually fairly simple. Thank you Simona for a fun challenge!

See more pics and the recipe after the jump.

{pasta frolla}


1/2 c. minus 1 tablespoon superfine sugar (see Note 1)
1 and 3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
a pinch of salt
1 stick 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:

Whisk together sugar, flour and salt in a bowl.

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.

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).

Add the lemon zest to your flour/butter/egg mixture.

Use a fork to incorporate the liquid into the solid ingredients, and then use your fingertips.

Knead lightly just until the dough comes together into a ball.

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.

Variation for Version 1 of pasta frolla:

If you want, you can make the pasta frolla using a combination of all-purpose flour and whole-wheat pastry flour.
If you choose to try this variation, use 1 cup [240 ml, 135 g, 4 3/4 oz.] unbleached all-purpose flour and 3/4 cup [180 ml, 100 g, 3.5 oz.] whole-wheat pastry flour.

{apple tart}

recipe adapted from: Joy of Baking
serves: 6-8


6 cups (2 pounds) (about 5 large) apples, peeled, cored, and sliced into 1/2 inch pieces
2 tablespoons granulated whitesugar
1 tablespoon unsaltedbutter, melted
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg


Preheat the oven to 375ºF.

Remove chilled pastry from the refrigerator and roll out from the center to about 1/8" thick. A tip for this is to place the dough between two pieces of saran wrap. It will keep the dough from sticking to anything and allow you to easily flip the dough over into your tart pan or onto the baking pan if you're going for the rustic look. If your dough is getting sticky, place it back in the fridge for a few minutes to firm up.

Arrange the apple slices evenly over the pasta frolla leaving a 2 inch border if folding over the crust. Once filled, fold the pastry up and over the apples and pour any leftover butter on top. Sprinkle about 2 tablespoons of sugar over the crust and apples if you want it a little sweeter.

If you've made one large tart, bake for 50 - 60 minutes or until the apples are soft and the crust is golden brown. If you've split the dough in half and made two medium size tarts, bake for about 30 minutes until apples are soft and crust is golden brown.

Let cool and serve warm or at room temperature.


  1. It is good to know that even after warming the crostatine for 30 min then chilling again and then baking at the correct temperature they worked out so well. They look perfect to me and I love the photo of you and the unbaked tarts so cool. Wondrous result and great effort.

    Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

  2. What an adventure! It made me laugh. They look delicious, and I love how the crust looks.