Saturday, November 27, 2010

Cranberries & Cream Crostata

I apologize for not posting more often this week, but I was busy! Between trying to get the house in order after our weekend away and another wedding cake to get done before leaving for Mountain Man's family home Thanksgiving morning, my posts fell to the wayside.

I do hope everyone stuffed themselves silly with turkey and all the fixins like we did on Thursday and enjoyed every second of it!

Not being able to help Mama Mountain Man with Turkey Day preparations this year, I wanted to at least bring dessert. Fortunately, this month's Daring Baker Challenge was perfect for a Thanksgiving feast and would offer a little something different than the traditional pumpkin and pecan pie.

The 2010 November Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Simona of bricole. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers' to make pasta frolla for a crostata. She used her own experiences as a source, as well as information from Pellegrino Artusi's Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well.

Although we had to use Simona's pasta frolla recipe for the crostata base, she gave us creative freedom when it came to the choice of filling. If you remember, I made a crostata a couple of months ago, but this version is quite different and maybe even a little more tasty.

Going with the Thanksgiving theme, let me introduce to you my Cranberries & Cream Crostata.

There are a few steps involved in the recipe- Making the dough, letting it chill an hour and then making the cream and cranberry fillings.

Pasta Frolla 
(Crostata dough)

Scant 3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 3/4 cup AP flour
pinch of salt
1 stick butter, cold and cut into small pieces
grated zest of half a lemon
1 large egg and 1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten in a small bowl

Place sugar, flour, salt and lemon zest in a food processor and pulse a few times to mix.
Add butter pieces and pulse a few times until the mixture has the consistency of coarse meal.
Empty ingredients onto a work surface.

 Make a well in the center of the mounded flour and pour beaten egg into it (reserve a teaspoon of egg mixture for egg wash).
Using a fork, incorporate liquid into dry ingredients and then use your fingertips.

Knead lightly just until the dough comes together into a ball. 
Shape dough into a flat disk, wrap in saran wrap and place dough in fridge to chill for an hour or so.

After dough has had some time to chill, start to prepare the cranberries.

Honey Soaked Cranberries
2 1/2 cups cranberries (fresh or frozen)
2/3 cup honey
2/3 cup water

Bring water and honey to a boil in a medium sized sauce pan. Add cranberries and return to boil for about 10-12 minutes. Remove berries from heat and allow mixture to cool and thicken (about 5-10 minutes).

While your berries are thickening, make your cream.

Crema Pasticcera
(lightly sweetened pastry cream)
2 large eggs
1/3 cup sugar
2 cups + 2 TBS whole milk
3 strips of lemon peel (use a potato peeler to cut strips)
3 TBS AP flour

Pour milk into a pan, add lemon peel and warm just before boiling point is reached. In a mixing bowl, beat eggs with sugar until mixture is bubbly. Sif flour over egg mixture and beat briefly until incorporated. Temper egg mixture with a small quantity of milk, then slowly add rest of milk, mixing with a wooden spoon. Pour mixture back into pan and set it to very low heat, stirring every couple of minutes. When froth on surface has disappeared completely, the cream should start to feel slightly thicker. At this point, turn heat up slightly and make sure to stir constantly. When cream reaches boiling point and thickens, continue to cook briefly for 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat, remove lemon peel and place saucepan in a cold water bath, stirring cream to bring down the temperature. While cream is cooling, stir every now and again to precent formation of film.

Assembling and baking the Crostata con la Crema

*You will need a 8 or 9 inch fluted tart pan, cake pan or springform pan.
Heat oven to 350.
Take dough out of fridge and unwrap.
Lay dough on top of saran wrap and place another piece over top to make rolling the dough out a lot less messy (the dough disk should be sandwiched between 2 pieces of saran wrap).
Press dough with rolling pin- starting from the middle to each end, creating a circular shape.
Roll dough into a circle about 1/8th inch thick.

Remove top piece of saran wrap from dough.
Flip dough over pan (exposed side down), center it and delicately press it all around so corners are well covered. Peel away saran wrap.
Trim excess dough hanging over the edges of the pan (reserve for later). Press remaining dough around border into sides of pan so an even thickness is reached all the way around.

Prick bottom of the dough with a fork in several places.
With left over dough, roll with pin and cut out fun shapes with cookie cutter.

Cover bottom of crostata crust with an even layer of cream and then top with cooked cranberries.

Decorate with cut outs.
Brush edges of crostata and cut outs with reserved egg yolks (you may need to add 1 tsp of water to beaten eggs to make it brush-able)
Place tart in oven and bake for 30-35 minutes.
When done, remove from oven and allow to cool on cooling rack for at least an hour. Make sure you crostata is completely cooled before serving.

What did you have for dessert this Thanksgiving??
Happy Baking!