Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Daring part of Thanksgiving Break

It was a series of fortunate events:

1.  I had assigned myself dessert duty for the feast.*
2.  I said I would bring cheesecake, pecan pie and pumpkin pie.
3.  Our hostess sent around a list of who was bringing what, and there were three other people bringing pumpkin pie, too.
4.  I graciously offered to swap out my pumpkin pie for an apple tart**.  Nobody else was bringing anything with apples, so the coast was clear.
5.  On a whim, I checked to see what the Daring Bakers were up to this month***.
6.  This is what they were up to:  "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."
7.  It turns out that Crostata means "tart" in Italian. Hmm...
8.  My apple tart was now an apple cream crostata. And a mighty fine one, at that.

Apple Cream Crostata

For the Pasta Frolla
(this is the Daring Bakers part)

Scant 3/4 c. powdered sugar
1 3/4 c. unbleached all purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
zest of 1/2 a lemon
1 stick of cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk, beaten together in a small bowl

Place powdered sugar, flour, salt and lemon zest in a food processor, and pulse to combine.  Pulse in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Turn mixture out onto a work surface, forming a mound.  Make a small round indentation in the mound, and add the beaten eggs.  Use a fork to incorporate the egg into the dry ingredients, then use your fingers to bring it together into a smooth dough.

Knead a few times, then form into a disc and refrigerate for an hour.   Roll out between wax paper to a thickness of about 1/8th of an inch, and press into your tart pan.  From here, depending on your choice of filling, you can use right away, or bake with pie weights for 15 minutes, then uncovered for another 5 minutes.  This is known as "blind baking" or "par baking" the crust, and it's good when using custard or cream fillings for your tart.

For the tart:
(this is our family recipe part)

Par-baked crust
5-6 tart-sweet apples, peeled, cored and sliced thinly
Fresh lemon juice
1 pint heavy cream
3/4 c. sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 c. flour
1 egg

Preheat oven to 350.  Squeeze lemon juice over apples, then place apples into the pan with the pre-baked crust.  Use more or less apples to make pan nicely full but not mounded.   Mix the remaining ingredients together with a whisk until well blended.  Pour over apples until cream mixture is about 1/4 inch below edge of pie.  Discard any extra.  Bake for 40 minutes, until set.  Serve to raves at your next potluck, or just gobble it up by yourself.

*This was well before I knew that baking therapy would very much be in order.  I'm a dessert person even when times are good.
** Even though I make a really good pumpkin pie.
*** I did this guiltily, as I fully expected to be pummeled upon login for being such a flake. Fortunately, there are now so many DBs that my delinquency may have escaped notice, at least until I called attention to it in this footnote.


  1. your crostata looks perfect and the flavour combination of cream and apples is a sure winner with me well done on this challenge.

    Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.