Going Crazy for Crostata with the Daring Bakers

27 Nov

(No shame in drooling over this picture…it is as delicious as it looks!)

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.

Question #1: What is a crostata?

Answer: A crostata is an Italian baked dessert tart, and a form of pie. It is traditionally prepared by folding the edges of the dough over the top of the jam/marmalade filling, creating a more “rough” look, rather than a uniform, circular shape.

We were given a great deal of freedom with this challenge when it came to choosing flavors…and with that comes the dilemma of actually choosing flavors! Of course, as is the case for most of our challenges, we couldn’t just try one flavor- so we compromised and made two! A savory crostata made with a basil crust and filled with feta, cottage cheese, chicken, onion, spinach and tomatoes, and a delicious desert crostata made with a raspberry crust and filled with dark chocolate, vanilla pastry cream, and fresh raspberries.


3/4 cup of powdered sugar
1 and 3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
a pinch of salt
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
grated zest of half a lemon
large egg and 1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten in a small bowl

Variation #1 “Savory Basil”:  for our savory crostata crust we substituted 3/4 cup of powdered sugar with 1/2 crushed, dried, basil leaves and omitted the lemon juice and zest.
Variation #2 “Raspberry Pasta Frolla”:  for our delicious desert crostata we substituted 1 large egg yolk for 1 1/2 Tbsp of fresh raspberry liquid.

[We had made a raspberry filling for a cake the day before and used the liquid which remained after boiling down the raspberries with sugar, lemon juice and cornstarch. Though puree some raspberries in a food processor would probably yield a very similar taste.]

STEP 1) Whisk together sugar, flour and salt in a bowl. [We did steps 1 &2 in our food processor]

STEP 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. [One of the brilliant Daring Bakers suggested we chill the butter and grate it with a cheese grater. This was possibly one of the most brilliant ideas ever! Particularly if you are making this, or any type of pie crust by hand!]

STEP 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).

STEP 4) Add the lemon zest to your flour/butter/egg mixture.

STEP 5) Use a fork to incorporate the liquid into the solid ingredients, and then use your fingertips.

STEP 6) Knead lightly just until the dough comes together into a ball.

STEP 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.

STEP 8)Preheat the oven to 350ºF

STEP 9) Roll out a batch of the pasta frolla and cover the base of the tart pan. [We didn’t have a tart pan so we used a 9″ spring-form cake pan…it worked great! For our raspberry pasta frolla we used an aluminum cake pan and a round Wilton gum-paste tool to make it look like a tart crust!!! Krista is rather proud of this idea!]

STEP 10) Cover the the crust with a piece of parchment paper or aluminum foil large enough to cover the bottom of the crust and extend out a bit over the edges of the pan.

STEP 11) Fill the pan with some pie eights, or any type of dry beans or pasta.

STEP 12) Place the crostata shell in the oven and bake for 20 minutes.

STEP 13) Remove the weights and parchment paper and continue baking the crostata shell until the border is light golden, about 5 minutes (watch carefully to avoid over-baking, which results in a hard shell).

STEP 14) Remove from the oven and let the crostata shell cool completely before proceeding.

STEP 15) If you use a tart pan with removable bottom, release the base from the fluted tart ring, then slide the cooled crostata shell on a serving plate for filling. (Note: If you’ve used a cake pan or pie plate, use a bit of care in taking the shell out of the baking vessel.)

STEP 16) Fill crostata with chosen filling and enjoy!


For our Savory Greek Crostata we make a basil pasta frolla crust and filled it with layers of *feta and cottage cheese, marinated chicken and onions [which we cooked ahead of time over the stove], spinach, and tomatoes.

*To make feta and cottage cheese layer: Mix together 8oz of low-fat cottage cheese, 4 oz of feta cheese, 1 large egg, and a pinch of salt and pepper.


This was possibly one of our best flavor combination’s ever! We filled a raspberry pasta frolla crust with a layer of melted dark chocolate, vanilla pastry cream, and fresh raspberries!

*We used the following Pastry Cream recipe from The Joy of Cooking

Pastry Cream (Joy of Cooking)
1/3 cups sugar
2 tbsp flour
2 tbsp cornstarch
4 large egg yolks
1 and 1/3 cups milk
3/4 tsp vanilla

In Medium bowl, beat on high sugar, flour, cornstarch and yolk until thick and pale yellow, about 2 minutes.
Combine in pot milk and vanilla. Bring to a simmer.
Gradually pour one third of the hot milk into the egg mixture, stirring to combine. Scrape the egg mixture back into the pot and cook, whisking constantly and scraping the bottom and corners of the pot to prevent scorching, over medium heat until custard is thick and begins to bubble. Continue to cook 45-60 seconds. Transfer custard to clean bow, and cover to prevent a skin from forming. Let cool, the refrigerate before using.

Our crostata challenge turned into a big event- we had the savory crostata for dinner and followed that up with our sweet crostata for desert! Both were absolutely delicious and definitely something we will have to make again to share with the rest of our family. Thanks Simona for a super fun and delicious DB Challenge!

Until next time…keep fit and have fun! (lol)

-K & N

P.S. Sorry for the lack of posts this past month…. everyone in our house has been sick over the past month and it just seems to keep going around. Hopefully we’ll have a few more posts in December… perhaps some delicious Christmas baking!


8 responses to “Going Crazy for Crostata with the Daring Bakers

  1. the dream journal

    November 27, 2010 at 11:04 pm

    that raspberry crostata looks to die for. i wish i had a taste right now.

  2. theveggie

    November 28, 2010 at 12:18 am

    These look great. I love the savoury tart. I would eat it sans chicken =)

  3. Audax Artifex

    November 28, 2010 at 3:38 am

    WOW two versions and both look so delicious I love how you made a feast of it superb effort and great results wonderful to hear it went so well for you.

    Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

  4. ericasedibles

    November 28, 2010 at 7:36 am

    Your crostatas look great. I especially like your savory Greek one. I have yet to make a savory one.

  5. Shelley C

    November 28, 2010 at 8:43 am

    Wow – you went all out, and MAN – those look fantastic!!! I love your step-by-step photos and instructions. Really great job on the challenge!!

  6. Renata

    November 28, 2010 at 7:56 pm

    OMG!!! These look fantastic!! Both of them! I’m drooling!

  7. Simona

    December 20, 2010 at 1:03 pm

    You gave permission and I drooled. Very nice job on the challenge!

  8. celestauer

    December 21, 2010 at 6:51 pm

    I love peach cobbler. It’s one of my favorite desserts.


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