29 November 2010

daring bakers: carrot crostata and crostata con la crema

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.

Crostata is pretty much just the Italian word for 'tart'. Tarts involve pastry. What a great excuse for me to practice making pastry! I've always found tart pastries difficult to perfect but I've learnt that there are tricks of the trade that, if you remember, will give you perfect pastry every time you try. When you are learning how to make pastry, don't follow my example and make pastry in the middle of the night - you will obviously stuff it up.

If you don't feel like a sugar-overload then Crostata con la Crema is for you. It's a lovely crostata filled with a smooth pastry cream. It's also simple to prepare, elegant without being too flashy and is only lightly sweetened.

I followed Simona's recipe to the T and was rewarded with a light, barely sweetened, crostata that would be perfect to serve to people that aren't into sweets (I do not understand these people but as a good hostess I must grin and bear it).

With the leftover dough, I made dulce de leche cookies. I had used orange zest in my pastry recipe instead of lemon zest which gave the cookies a hint of orange and was lovely with the filling. I used some left-over thickened sweetened condensed milk caramel/dulce de leche. They were very moreish but I'm not including a recipe because the ratios are too hard to use. What's half of 1 3/4 cup minus 1 tablespoon?

The second crostata I made was amaaaaaazing... Sweet, glazed carrot discs lay prettily atop a creamy, savoury mashed carrot mixture which was enclosed by the best tart pastry I have ever made. Even though shop-bought pastry is super convenient, I now have a recipe I can rely on that gives waaaay better results than shop-bought. It's also, for pastry, quick to make! To me that's the beauty of Daring Bakers - finding a recipe I can now happily include in my repertoire.

A few things I learnt for when making pastry:
  • If your recipe requires adding water, add it a leeetle bit at a time and also directly onto the driest parts of the pastry. Pastry is a tricksy one and can look drier than it actually is if liquid is not worked into it properly. Also, pastry hates being worked too much so getting liquid onto dry parts helps to minimise overworking of the dough.
  • If the bottom of your pastry isn't cooked and the top edges are heading towards burnt-town, cover the top edge by gently crimping some tinfoil around it. My mum told me that putting the tart on the bottom shelf in the oven will help cook the bottom as it will be closer to the oven's bottom element. Ta, Mum!

Crostata con la Crema
Recipe for this crostata can be found here along with lots of helpful tips. Simona's blog is a lovely mix of yummy Italian food and wonderful writing.

Carrot Crostata
Recipe from Domenica Marchetti's Big Night In can be found here. Make it and you will not be sorry. Looking at the picture on the site I can see I didn't place my carrot discs at all properly which is why I thought I had made too many and ended up eating what were not actually 'leftover' carrots. Darn.


UFRV said...

Both look lovely, and the carrot version I _have_ to try. Thanks for sharing! And I agree with you, this recipe is a keeper!

Mary said...

Both your crostate look wonderful! I really wanted to make a pastry cream one, but time got away on me again. That carrot one sounds really interesting--what a cool vegetable dish. it is savoury, right?

E.K.R said...

You did a lovely job on the challenge! I love the mini stars on your cream crostata! The idea for glazed carrots on top of a creamy mashed carrot filling is very intriguing. Such a unique idea!!

Miri said...

@UFRV - Yes! I don't want to be pushy but the carrot version is DIVINE!

@Mary - yes the carrot crostata is very much savoury which was great because it meant I could have a crostata for dinner and a crostata for dessert...

@E.K.R - I didn't think the pain of using a teeny tiny star cutter would be worth it so thank you :)

shelley c. said...

Both of your crostata look amazing - I love the stars on the pastry cream version, and the carrot one sounds so delicious. How awesome that you could crostata in every course of your meal, though - FUN! :) Really great job.

Audax said...

WOW I love both of them - the stars on top of the crema version is so cute but the savoury carrot crostata hits the spot for me I just love the carrot coins on top also. And the cookies are brilliant excellent use of the left over dough.

Superb work on this challenge.

Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

Miri said...

@shelley c. - Thanks :) I don't think you can ever have too many courses of crostate!

@Audax - I have to admit the savoury crostata was my fav. too. So nice to hear from someone close to home (I'm a Kiwi). Thanks!

veena krishnakumar said...

Both the variations look so lovely

Please Do Not Feed The Animals. said...

Well done on doing two! Love the carrot one.

Anonymous said...

Your carrot version looks utterly amazing. Very original!

Aparna said...

Liked both your crostate. Those little stars looks so pretty.
Glazed carrots in a carrot crostata sounds very exciting.

Sie Hui @ Kristy said...

hey Miri.. thanks for stopping by my blog!
and i must say.. yours look absolutely divine!!

Sirius73 said...

Interesting combination with the carrots. I love the little stars on the crostata con la crema :-)

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