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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 is the first month of Daring Baker’s for me, and it was a doozy!

For this challenge, we had the option of two different pasta frolla recipes.  I chose Version 1, which was a simple mixture of sugar, flour, lemon zest, butter, egg and salt.  This choice was based, unfortunately, on a single element: time.  This one came together with the fewest ingredients and in such a short amount of time.  One note, not sure if it was because the winter air leeched the moisture out of my ingredients, or if there is just not enough liquid in the recipe, but I ended up adding about 2 Tbsps of cold water to get it to come together.  To fill, we were allowed to go crazy.  I decided to settle on a simple raspberry preserve with the juice of a lemon.

Raspberry Crostatta

3/4 cup of powdered sugar
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
1 large egg and 1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten in a small bowl
2 Tbsps cold water
21 ounces of raspberry preserves
Juice of 1 lemon

  1. Combine flour, powdered sugar and salt in a bowl.
  2. Add butter and rub/cut into flour mixture
  3. Add in beaten eggs and zest in a well in the center of the flour mixture (I kept mine all in the bowl, but it can be done straight on the counter top) and mix in with a fork until everything is moistened.  Here is where I added in my water, a tablespoon at a time, and began to lightly knead with my hands.
  4. At this point, create a ball of dough, and then cover with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for 2 hours, or overnight.
  5. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  6. After the dough has been chilled, retrieve from the fridge and unwrap.  Mine was stiff enough that I needed to use a combination of my hands and my rolling pin to force it out (gently) into a circle large enough to cover the bottom of my 9 inch cake pan.
  7. Once the dough was rolled out, I placed it in the pan and pushed to the edges.  After pinching off the excess dough that peeked over the rim of the pan, I pricked the bottom of the tart pan multiple times to prevent from any bubbles or uneven puffing from forming along the bottom.
  8. Place the preserves and lemon juice in a small pot on the stove and heat until pourable.  Pour into pan, and spread to even out.  At this point, the excess dough can be rolled out and cut into shapes to be place on the top of the crostatta.  For example, a U!
  9. Bake at 375 degrees F for 25 minutes, or until pastry is a golden brown.  Allow to cool for a least an hour, or until set, and then serve!
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So. I’m in Holland. Officially. Goodbye Utah, land of jello, SUVs, and Diet Coke. Hello Amsterdam, city of beer, pot, and bicycles. Life could not be more fun and exciting.

It’s rainy and cold outside today and I have many many pages of academic jargon to plow through for my classes on Monday, but I just can’t concentrate. I found a drool-worthy recipe for Nutella and Hazelnut Brownies last night (bell’alimento) and I’m dying to try them, but alas, I have no hazelnuts (not a suprise), no nutella (and yet I live in the land that eats it like candy), and no willpower to put on my rain gear and go pedalling to the grocery store to search for said items. And when I say search, I do not mean that metaphorically. I wanted to make chocolate chip cookies last week and COULD NOT find chocolate chips. So poor me, I had to cut up a bar of chocolate. And I threw in a bag of chocolate-covered hazelnuts (YUM). Sigh. Life is so hard.

But I digress. Moral of my longwinded sob story is that I have the baking bug again. So what to make? I landed on Apple Crisp, figuring that was a good route to take for three reasons: 1) I have a kilo of apples that NEED to be used; 2) I know the recipe by heart; and 3) because apple crisp is something my mom and I would make when it was yucky outside. Perfect.

Now, the only problem I encountered was yet another funny cultural cramp – the grocery stores close early here. We’re talking 8:00 at the latest. And yeah, I have all the ingredients for Apple Crisp, but it’s so much better with vanilla pudding (or dutch vla), ice cream, hell, even whipped cream. Of which I have, yep, none. Damn. So I made my own custard to go with. I’m so clever.

Apple Crisp

  • Feeds 4-6
  • Cook at 180 C/350 F
  • Time to prepare: 30 min.
  • Time to cook: 20-40 min. depending on altitude
  • a cake pan or pie plate work well for this recipe

1 1/4 C. flour

1/2 C. + 2 T brown sugar (I used dark sugar in the raw)

1/4 C. white sugar (the coarser the better)

1 stick of butter *

*if the butter isn’t salted, add a 1/2 tsp salt*

4-5 apples

1 tsp. vanilla

4 tsp Cinnamon

2 tsp nutmeg

a splash of lemon juice (optional)

The Steps!

  1. Wash, peel, and cut up the apples. You can slice or dice, or just take a knife and wing it. Keep it chunky and the pieces won’t stick together. Toss your apple pieces with lemon to keep them from going brown.
  2. Pour vanilla, 2 tsp Cinnamon, 1 tsp. nutmeg, and 2 T brown sugar onto apples and mix well. Pour the apples into the baking dish and spread them out so the bottom is covered.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, remaining spices, and sugar together. Cut the butter into chunks and using two dinner knives, cut the butter into the mixture (you could use your hands but keep in mind that your body heat will melt the butter slightly and the texture of your topping will change).
  4. Sprinkle the topping over the apples, covering everything as completely as possible. Cook!

Meanwhile, you can enjoy the lovely “baking apples” smell as you do the custard! This one is super easy, just don’t overheat.

Easy Vanilla Custard

  • feeds 4-6
  • time to make: 10 min.
  • time to cook: 5 min.

1 C. milk (skim, whole, soy, matters not)

1 T cornstarch

2 T sugar

2 tsp vanilla

2 egg yolks

The Steps!

  1. Mix the milk, cornstarch, vanilla, and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat until it starts to thicken.
  2. Cream the two egg yolks in a bowl, then pour a little of the milk mixture in, stir, pour more milk in, stir, repeat. (You do this to control how fast the eggs heat up. If you just pour them in, they’ll cook, and that’s icky in a custard)
  3. After you have successfully blended the eggs into the milk mixture, place back on the heat and cook for a minute or so. No boiling. Boiling is bad!   🙂

Serve the Apple Crisp hot, the custard can be served warm or chilled, whatever fits your fancy. Enjoy! I know I did (So did my flatmates)!