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.
I have made tarts and tart crusts so many times now, I have lost count. It's almost a staple in our house, especially since it's so easy to put together and one of those dishes that is always elegant with fillings only limited by creativity. Plus I love that I could potentially use the same crust for savory and sweet fillings which makes storage logistically simple! :)
But, I had never made a crust with eggs in it. So, the pasta frolla was intriguing. I wanted to see how the addition of the egg changed the flakiness and richness of the tart shell and whether it would actually weigh it down, especially for a savory filling.
Crostata is an Italian dessert made with pasta frolla, a sweet short crust pastry, and varied fillings from pastry cream and fruit jams with the traditional lattice pattern on top of the tart.
Given the holiday season and November being a month of many birthdays and festivals, we had been a bit overwhelmed by sweet things at home. Can you believe it, we actually got quite tired of sweet bites. So, for this challenge, I decided to stretch it and make a savory crust flavored with oregano.
For the filling, I used up the last of my farm produce. Kale is a fabulous source of nutrients like iron but can be a bit bitter. To balance that I used grated sweet carrots all sauteed in rich pancetta drippings. Also, instead of cream cheese, I used mascarpone which is lighter while lending a nice and creamy consistency to the filling. For additional flavor, I used fresh goat's milk ricotta.
Verdict: Although, it was not flaky like the traditional French crust I make, we really liked it's richness. The pasta frolla crust naturally lends itself to sweet filling as it's denseness forms almost a cookie like shell but it can, I think, molded successfully for a savory course, as well!
I served my tart with a side of cabbage slaw with red onions, pomegranate arils and mint tossed in a creamy mixture of Greek yogurt and sour cream and topped off with bits of pancetta. We finished off the meal with this gluten free Apple Tart made with this gluten free dough, layers of nutella, apple butter, crushed almonds and apple slices. Simply fantastic!
Kale and Carrot Crostata
(makes 9 inch tart)
1 pasta frolla dough (recipe below)
1 bunch kale, washed and chopped
2 carrots, grated
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 clove of garlic
3 oz pancetta, cubed
2.5 oz mascarpone
3 T heavy cream
3 oz goat's milk ricotta (or 2 oz goat cheese)
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp fresh nutmeg
salt and fresh cracked pepper as needed
Saute the pancetta in a little oil until browned and crisp and the fat has rendered. Remove the pancetta pieces and reserve for the slaw. Retain about 3 tablespoons of the fat in the pan and reserve the rest for later. Saute the onions, garlic and carrots until soft and almost cooked through. Add the chopped kale and cook until the greens have wilted down. Set aside to cool for a bit.
Meanwhile cream the mascarpone and cream together. Add the egg and goat cheese and beat again. Fold in seasoning, nutmeg and oregano and set aside. Fold in the cooled kale and carrot mixture. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pastry shell.
Bake at 400 F for 20 minutes and then at 350 F for 10 more minutes or until the filling is set in the middle.
(this recipe makes one 9 inch crust and 1 five inch crust)
1-3/4 cups flour
1 stick of butter, cubed
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup cold water
2 tsp oregano
1 tsp salt
Sift together flour, salt and oregano. Cut the butter into the flour to a crumbly consistency. Make a well in the center of the mounded flour and butter mixture and pour the beaten eggs and water into it. Slowly incorporate the liquid into the solid ingredients using a fork/whisk 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.
When ready, cut away about a third of the dough and set back in the refrigerator. Roll the rest of the dough on a well floured surface to a 1/4 inch thickness and 10 inch diameter. Gently transfer to the tart pan and press into the mold. Refrigerate until the filling is ready.