Sunday, 28 November 2010

November Daring Bakers Challenge: Crostata!

The 2010 November Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Simona of briciole. She chose to challenge the 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 to say, I was not very excited about this challenge. I love making pies -but I tend to stick to my very reliable pastry recipe and prefer not to experiment with new ones. I also felt that I wanted something more exciting than a tart. After completing the challenge, I have to say that I am SO glad that I did it. The pasta frolla was AMAZING and is now a permanent addition to my recipe collection. This recipe for it turned out great-it seemed a perfect consistency-no sogginess or crunchiness. I chose to use a Martha Stewart apple tart filling which was also very good. This combination resulted in a wonderful dessert that was perfect for a cold November evening.

Apple Crostata with Pasta Frolla


For the Pasta Frolla

1/2 c. minus 1 Tbsp caster sugar
1 3/4 c. all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick (4oz.) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg and 1 large egg yolk, slightly beaten

For the Apple Filling:

4 apples (such as Braeburn), peeled, cored and sliced into 1/2-in. thick wedges
1/2 c. minus 1 1/2 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp all purpose flour
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Optional: 1/4 c. preserves, warmed

To make the pasta frolla:

Whisk together sugar, flour and salt in a bowl.
Rub or cut the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
Make a well in the centre of the mounded flour and butter mixture and pour the beaten eggs into it (reserving about a tsp for glazing later-place in the refrigerator, covered until ready to use).
Use a fork to incorporate the liquid into the solid ingredients and then use your fingertips.
Knead lightly just until the dough comes together in a ball.
Shape into a flat disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator and chill at least 2 hrs. You can refrigerate the dough overnight.

To make the apple filling:

Toss together the apples, sugar, flour, lemon juice and cinnamon.

Assemble and bake the crostata:

Heat the oven to 375*F (190*C).
Take the pasta frolla out of the fridge, unwrap it.
Lightly dust teh top of the dough and your 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 it 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 in. thick and transfer to tart pan.
Trim excess dough. Press the dough around the border into the sides of the pan, making sure there is an even thickness all the way around. Optional: leave an inch of dough to fold over the filling.
Prick the bottom of the dough with a fork in several places.
Add the apple filling.
Brush the border of the dough with the reserved beaten eggs.
Put the tart in the oven and bake 25-35min.
After 25min, check the tart and continue baking until it is golden.
When done, remove from oven and let cool. Make sure the tart is completely cool before slicing and serving.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Daring Baker's October Doughnut Challenge

The October 2010 Daring Bakers challenge was hosted by Lori of Butter Me Up. Lori chose to challenge DBers to make doughnuts. She used several sources for her recipes including Alton Brown, Nancy Silverton, Kate Neumann and Epicurious.

This was the first Daring Baker's challenge I have participated in. It was great-I would never have tried making doughnuts....deep frying kinda scares me. So, I am really glad that this challenge came up and that I faced my fear of scalding hot oil!

I decided to make the traditional yeast doughnuts which was an Alton Brown recipe. They were soooo yummy! I made a few alterations to the original recipe after reading a few reviews and I think these changes were great. You can see the original recipe by clicking the link below. They really do need to be eaten within a couple hours as they loose their crispiness pretty quickly!

Yeast Doughnuts

Recipe from Alton Brown (Food Network)

Prep time:
Hands on prep time: 25min
Rising time: 1.5hrs
Cooking time: 12min

Yield: 20-25 doughnuts, depending on size.


1.5 cup milk
1/3 cup vegetable shortening
2 pkgs (4.5tsp) Active Dry Yeast
1/3 cup warm water
2 large eggs, beaten
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1.5 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
23oz plain flour
Vegetable oil- enough to fill your frying saucepan/dutch oven 3in deep.


Place milk in a medium saucepan and heat over medium heat, just until warm enough to melt shortening. Place shortening in a bowl and pour warmed milk over. Set aside.

In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and let dissolve for 5 min. It should get foamy. After 5 min, pour the yeast mixture into a large bowl of an electric mixer and add milk and shortening mixture (ensure the milk mixture has cooled to lukewarm).

Add the eggs, sugar, salt, cinnamon and half the flour. Using the paddle attachment of your mixer, combine the ingredients on low speed until the flour is incorporated. Increase speed to medium and beat until well combined. Add remaining flour on low speed and then increase to medium speed and beat well.

Change to the dough hook attachment of the mixer and beat on medium speed until the dough pulls away from the bowl and becomes smooth (3-4min). The dough will be wet- do not add more flour.

Transfer to a well-oiled bowl, cover and let rise for 1 hr until doubled in size.

On a well-floured surface, roll out the dough to 3/8in thick. Cut out dough using a 2.5 in round cutter and a 7/8-in. ring for the center hole (I used an apple corer).

Set on a floured baking sheet and cover lightly with a tea towel. Let rise for 30min.

Preheat the oil in a deep fryer or Dutch oven to 365*F/185*C. Gently place the doughnuts into the oil, 3 to 4 at a time. Cook for about 45 seconds per side until golden brown. Transfer to paper towels on a cooling rack. Allow to cool for 15-20min prior to glazing, if desired.

Chocolate Doughnut Glaze
Makes enough to glaxe 20-25 doughnuts.
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup whole milk
1 Tbsp light corn syrup/golden syrup
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 ounces of bittersweet chocolate, chopped.
2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted.
Combine butter, milk, corn syrup and vanilla in a medium saucepan over medium heat until butter is melted. Decrease heat to low, add chocolate, and whisk until melted.
Turn off heat, add the powdered sugar, and whisk until smooth. Place the mixture over a bowl of warm water and dip the doughnuts immediately. Allow the glaze to set for 30min before serving.

These dougnuts were really, really good. The cinnamon gave them a slightly deeper flavour and they were not too sweet. The glaze provided the perfect amount of sweetness and tasted amazing! These doughnuts were actually dangerous for me to have around- I ate way too many.

And since I made them on Halloween, I decided to decorate a couple with candy corn....

Overall, a really fun challenge and a highly recommended recipe!!