Crostata and sugar in a plum. Plum Plum!
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.
Never having made crostata in my life, I thought this was brilliant. I am not sure why I never wanted to make tarts before but clearly, there is much I missed out on. Perhaps because I thought of them as disguised pies. Anyway, as the idea of the crostata started settling in, I started getting more and more excited. The recipe looked like an authentic one and me time on Simona’s blog convinced me that she knows her stuff. Also, the rebel in me discovered an affinity to the word tart. How come a woman with a promiscuous character has a word for her in the English language and a man doesn’t?
Coming back to the crostata, I totally loved this challenge. This was my first Bakers Challenge and I have to admit – before the challenge was announced I was wondering if this would really be my kind of thing. I mean if I HAVE to cook/bake something, chances are, I WONT. It seemed unlikely that I would enjoy the constraint of not only having to bake, but bake something in particular and that too in a particular time frame. But I am so totally in love with this now. I get to cook stuff that is new, push my boundaries and have fun. I am now looking forward to discovering all kinds of foods in a community of food crazed bakers from the world over Infact I liked this challenge so much that I decided that I needed all the implements to make this as perfectly as I wanted to. Even the chocolate crazed Atul admits that the fruits in this tart are tempting enough to make him want to break his strict diet. Imagine that!
So here is the recipe for my first version of the crostata. The one with fresh plums and a guava juice filling. As a kid I loved the Brown Girl in a Ring nursery rhyme. Probably because I was dark and even as a kid I loved the idea of sugar in a plum. This was YUM! Plum Plum!
My Plum Crostata
- 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.
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.
The filling – Ingredients
- Plums : 1kg (less 4 plums)
- Sugar: 1/4 cup ground sugar
- Vanilla bean: 1 (you could also use 1 t vanilla essence instead)
- Guava Juice: 2-3T depending on how juicy your plums are
- Flour: 2T
- Sugar(Powdered): 1T
- Butter: 1-2T
Making the filling
- Heat the oven to 375ºF [190ºC/gas mark 5].
- Pull apart the plums and remove the stone in the middle
- Slice the plums and soak in the juice, vanilla and sugar for 15 mins to half an hour
- Take the pasta frolla out of the fridge. To help roll the crostata dough, keep the dough on top of the plastic wrap that you had it wrapped in. This can help rolling the dough and can also help when transferring the dough to your pan. You can also use parchment paper for this. However, you can also roll the dough directly on a work surface if you prefer.
- Lightly dust the top of the dough and your work surface (if you’re rolling directly on a work surface) with flour. Keep some flour handy to dust the dough as you go along.
- If the dough is very firm, start by pressing the dough with the rolling pin from the middle to each end, moving the rolling pin by a pin’s width each time; turn the dough 180 degrees and repeat; when it softens, start rolling.
- Roll the dough into a circle about 1/8th inch (3 mm) thick.
- If you used the plastic wrap or parchment paper as rolling surface, flip dough over the pan, centering it, and delicately press it all around so the corners are well covered. Peel away the plastic wrap.
- Mix the 2 T of flour and 1T of powdered sugar and sprinkle this on the base of the rolled out dough. This will absorb and thicken the excess juices from the fruit
- Line plums on the rolled out filling in a pretty patterns. Feel smug about how lovely your work of art is.
- Dot the fruits with 1-2T of butter
- Pull the edges of the rolled out dough to encase the fruit. Tuck in the folds to ensure none of the juices leak out.
- Brush the border and strips of dough with the reserved beaten eggs. You can add a drop or two of water to the beaten eggs if you don’t have enough liquid.
- Put the tart in the oven and bake for 25 minutes.
- After 25 minutes, check the tart and continue baking until the tart is of a nice golden hue. (Note: Every oven is different. In my oven it took 34 minutes to bake the tart until golden.)
This was the first filling. I discovered that this is a brilliant way to eat fruit. The only problem is that you may find yourself eating up most of the tart in the interest of food science. I mean, you would need to check how the consistency of the pastry changes every five minutes… But then if you are a seeker of truth you have to endure some suffering. Just have to learn to grin and bear it 😉
Seriously, this turned out so well that I went ahead and bought myself a bunch of baking things including a tart pan from Arife in Bandra and then turned out 4 variations with the Pasta Frolla!
Its a teeny possibility that I may have gone into a bit of an overdrive. But its rewarding to turn out these pretty deserts. Will be posting the recipes for the rest soon. Here is a peak at how they looked though.
And at this minute I still have some of the pasta frolla in my fridge..waiting to turn into another sumptuous fresh fruit desert. Wish me luck!