Saturday, November 27, 2010

Cottage Cheese 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.

So what is a crostata??? Our host provided a brief description: "...crostata (tart), an Italian dessert. The base of a crostata is pasta frolla (or pastafrolla), sweet short crust pastry (or sweet tart dough) made of flour, sugar, butter and eggs. Pasta frolla is versatile: it provides the base to make crostata with fruit preserves, pastry cream, fresh fruit, ricotta, and other ingredients, and, by itself, it makes very nice cookies."

Sounds pretty easy. In short, its kind of like a pie dough... but with eggs and melted butter instead of cold butter. Sooo.. really its nothing like pie dough :p bad bad reference.

Pasta Frolla
  • 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. Kneed 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.
  8. Roll out the dough so that it is big enough to completely cover/fill your tart pan. 
  9. Bake at 350F until golden and then fill with what ever you choose. See suggestions below.

I chose to do a cottage cheese filling. Note, I like most dairy but I'm really not a fan of cottage cheese. I've tried the cottage cheese doubles (you know, with the fruit topping)... not a winner. But, this is a simple filling used in a few different Hungarian pastries... cottage cheese is even used a candy bar! (Turo Rudi) Again, not a fan...but I haven't had it since I was about 5. 

Anyhow... its a combination of eggs, cottage cheese (drained over night) and vanilla sugar (powdered sugar infused with vanilla bean essence), and a little lemon zest. Thats it. 

Other fillings could be a simple chocolate ganache or cream, a vanilla cream with fruit topping, lemon curd, fruit preserves..... pretty much anything you would put in a pie. 


Audax said...

Your crostata looks perfect I love the colour of the shell and the icing sugar adds a lot of beauty to the final dish. Great work on this challenge.

Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

Flirting with Flour said...

Thanks Audax!! :)) I had fun with it! I just added a little more to the description... It always seems like the 27th of the month is one of the more busy days.... Not a pattern I would have noticed with out the DB posts... but I'm always sure to follow up and write a few thoughts after I get the main pic up.

Simona said...

Your crostata looks very nice. And your choice of filling is quite interesting.