Saturday, 27 November 2010

Daring Bakers' Challenge No. 1 - Nov 2010 - Fig and Honey Crostata.

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.

Simona gave us lots of great information and recipes and free rein to really do what we liked with the basic idea.  I followed her first recipe for pasta frolla which is an Italian sweet, shortcrust pastry.  I chose to make a crostata di frutta fresca (crostata with fresh fruit) which involves the pastry, a layer of pastry cream then fresh fruit.  I decided to try fresh figs with a honey glaze.  It was delicious.  However, next time I make it, I think I would use something like kiwi fruits as I really like the sharpness as a contrast with the pastry cream.  I also found that my pastry cream hadn't set as well as I would have liked so I couldn't cut it into pretty slices.  I know exactly why this was - the kids were with me in the kitchen while I was bringing the pastry cream to the boil.  They were cutting shapes out of the leftover pasta frolla and kept asking me to help them or asking to get down or endless questions while I was trying to stir constantly so I was beginning to get a little stressed and harried.  So, instead of letting the pastry cream come to the boil, I gave up before that point.  So, of course, a runnier pastry cream than would have been ideal.

Recipe - Pasta Frolla

Ingredients - 
100g caster sugar
235g plain flour
pinch of salt
115g 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

Method - 
1. Whisk together sugar, flour and salt in a bowl.
2. Rub the butter into the flour until the mixture has the consistency of coarse crumbs.
3. Make a well in the centre of the mounded flour and butter mixture and pour the beaten eggs into it.
4. Add the lemon zest.
5. Use a fork to incorporate the liquid into the solid ingredients, and then use your fingertips.
6. Knead lightly just until the dough comes together into a ball.

7. Shape the dough into a flat disc and wrap in cling film.
8. Place the dough in the refrigerator and chill for at least two hours or overnight.
9. Heat the oven to 180C/ Gas mark 4/ 350F.
10. Take the pasta frolla out of the fridge, roll out and cover the base of your tart pan.

11. Cut a piece of parchment paper or foil large enough to cover the pastry and extend a bit past the sides.
12. Place pie weights or dry beans in an even layer over the parchment or foil.
13. Bake for 20 minutes.
14. Remove the weights and paper and continue baking until the border is light golden, about 5 mins.
15. Let cool completely.
16. Remove from tin and place on a serving plate before filling with the pastry cream.

Recipe - Crema Pasticcera.
This is Simona's Aunt Lucia's recipe.

Ingredients - 
2 extra-large eggs
65g sugar
500ml milk
3 strips of lemon peel
3 tbsp plain flour

Method - 
1. Pour the milk into the pan, add the lemon peel, and warm up to well below boiling point.
2. In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs with the sugar until the mixture is bubbly.

3. Sift the flour over the egg mixture and beat briefly until incorporated.
4. Temper the egg mixture with a small quantity of milk, then slowly add the rest of the milk, mixing with a wooden spoon.
5. Pour the mixture into the pan and set it to a very low heat, stirring at least every couple of minutes.  When the froth on the surface disappears completely, the crema starts to feel slightly thicker.  From this point on, stir almost continuously.
6. When the crema reaches boiling point and thickens, cook briefly (1-2 mins), then remove the pan from the heat, remove the lemon peel, place the saucepan in a cold water bath, and stir to bring down its temperature.
7. While the crema cools down, stir it every now and then to prevent the formation of a film over it.

I then filled the pastry with the cream, arranged the sliced figs over the top and glazed with some heated honey.

We had some pasta frolla left over so the boys cut out some cookie shapes and we made cookies which they then decorated.


  1. Oh, I just wanted to link to this stunningly beautiful crostata -

  2. The children are gorgeous! Your crostata looks amazing. Honey and figs sounds delightful:)

  3. Fig and honey crostata it looks and sounds delicious and your sous chefs are adorable well done on this challenge. Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

  4. Your crostata looks and sounds fantastic. It has been so long since I have eaten fresh fig, the whole thing is totally speaking to me! :) And I LOVE the pictures of your helpers - it is SO much fun to involve the little ones int he kitchen!!!

  5. Your animals are adorable! =) And fig and honey sounds to die for even though I'm with you on the tart and sweet combo. After the Foodbuzz Festival I've been on a fig kick!

    I actually have to thank you... after you first commented on my blog a while ago, I came to check out yours and saw your Daring Kitchen button. I thought, "what on earth?", followed the link, and here I am completeing my first challenge! I wholeheartedly thank you for the inspiration to step out of my comfort zone.

  6. Nice job on your first challenge :) I love the flavors you chose to work with I would have never thought about using figs! Your kids are too cute!

  7. Duchess, Audax, Shelley and Evan - Than you so much for such kind comments and encouragement.

    Kimmie - That's wonderful that you saw the link to the Daring Kitchen from my blog! This was my first Daring Baker's challenge too - I feel the same way - great way to get me moving out of my comfort zone and trying new things. Can't wait to do the next one. Have you joined the Daring Cooks too?

  8. Wow this looks amazing! Very impressive, and brave of you!

  9. Woah this looks seriously impressive ! And yum :)

  10. Your fig and honey crostata look fabulous. I like fig but my husband does not, so I don't get to cook with it much. Nice to see others using it though.

    Can I ask where you got your mushroom cookie cutter from? I'd love to add one to my cookie cutter collection.

  11. Hi Mangocheeks -
    try here -

    Chrissy and Kate - thanks. :-D

  12. Welcome to the wonderful world of Daring Bakers. Your crostata looks great, honey & fig is a lovely combination. Much more daring than mine. How are you finding Daring Cooks? I only signed up for bakers so I'd be interested to hear your feedback. The Cake Slice Bakers sounds fun too.

  13. i love figs. love love love figs. there were fig trees all over my neighborhood as a child

  14. Beautiful looking crostata, I love the fig idea. Congrats on your first month (mine too).

  15. dearloveblog - I'm loving the daring Cooks. I have only done two challenges so far. Both are fairly normal things which I would defintiely do a lot more of so I appreciate having the chance to try out the skills and improve my confidence in them. I do 4 challenges - two baking ones, a bread one and the cooking one. This means it averages out at about one a week I have to do. I need to stop myself from joining any more as I think that four is just right for me.

    chrischaos - Oooh where was your childhood neighbourhood? I, too, love figs. So juicy and look really amazing when sliced!

    zodelicious - Thanks. Great to be starting this challenge with you!

  16. Awww, I think you've got the cutest helpers in the world! They look like they were having a great time. I love the fig topping for your crostata, too. Yum!

  17. Great job on your first challenge. You chose a lovely combination

  18. Hey Lou! Welcome to the Daring Bakers :) This was my second challenge and I am truly loving it. The figs look so beautiful...believe it or not the closest I have come to trying figs are in fig newtons! LOL

  19. Wow, yours turned out beautifully! And your kids are adorable

  20. Thanks very much Koci, Crumbs, DaintyApron and Stephanie. :-D

  21. Looks great with the figs. Bet it tasted great in combination with the custard.

  22. The photos of you boys are priceless. I am so glad to see that they had fun cutting cookies with the leftover pasta frolla. Your crostata looks very nice.