Cranberry Crostata (Daring Bakers November)

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.

This is the third month in a row that I have actually participated in a Daring Bakers challenge! Can you believe it?  I had a bit of a rough spell with very little inspiration/energy, but I’m back!

This month’s challenge was to make a crostata with pasta frolla, a pastry dough that I was not previously familiar with. Here’s my (unofficial and non-professionally trained) take on it… It’s basically a standard pie dough/pastry crust moistened with eggs instead of ice water.  The proportions were a bit different than my traditional pie dough… My usual recipe has about 3 parts flour to 2 parts butter and 1 part ice water.  This one had almost equal parts butter and flour, though, making up for some of the lack of flour with superfine sugar.

That’s the ingredient analysis… Now, let’s talk about how it turned out.  My crust ended up having more of a shortbread/cakey texture than a flakey pie crust.  Honestly, I’m not really sure if that was how it was supposed to turn out or if I may have done something wrong (though, I did measure by weight and mixed by hand so as to not over work the dough).  I saw a few other bakers who mentioned similar results in the forums.

Since I was feeling some Thanksgiving inspiration while I was baking this one, I decided to make a cranberry filled crostata.  I had quite a few fresh cranberries on hand (I stocked up on a jumbo 3 pound bag of them!), so I made a quick skillet jam flavored with orange and cinnamon. I just can’t get enough cranberry… It’s definitely one of my favorite holiday flavors. I left the jam somewhat tart, though.  I like it that way, but if you’re not a tart cranberry person, you may want to taste and add a bit more sugar/liquid accordingly.

Overall, I’m somewhat torn on this one.  It wasn’t bad, but I didn’t love it.  Not as much as I love a flakey pie dough.  I’m curious to hear what the other Daring Bakers have to say…

Cranberry Crostata

  • 4 cups fresh cranberries (frozen would work, too)
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • Juice and zest from 1 orange
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 batch of pasta frolla, chilled (see Daring Bakers recipe below)

For the skillet jam, combine the cranberries, brown sugar, orange juice, orange zest, and cinnamon in a large skillet over medium heat.  Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook until the cranberries burst and the mixture thickens (about 15 minutes). Set aside to cool.

(Note: The skillet jam can be made a day or two ahead and stored in the refrigerator.)

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Roll out the pasta frolla (reserving about 1/4 of the dough) to about 1/4-inch thickness. Transfer the dough to a 9-inch tart pan and press the dough into the edges.  Prick the bottom of the crust with a fork and fill with the skillet jam. Roll out the remaining dough and cut long strips to lay across the top of the crostata.

Bake for about 30 – 35 minutes, until the crust is golden. Cool before slicing.

Pasta Frolla (Version 1 from Daring Bakers Challenge)

  • 1/2 c. minus 1 tablespoon [105 ml, 100 g, 3 ½ oz] superfine sugar or a scant 3/4 cup [180ml, 90g, 3 oz] of powdered sugar
  • 1 and 3/4 cup [420 ml, 235 g, 8 1/4 oz.] unbleached all-purpose flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 stick [8 tablespoons / 4 oz. / 115 g] cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • Grated zest of half a lemon (you could also use vanilla sugar as an option, see Note 2)
  • 1 large egg and 1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten in a small bowl

Making pasta frolla by hand –

Whisk together sugar, flour and salt in a bowl.  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.

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).  Add the lemon zest to your flour/butter/egg mixture.  Use a fork to incorporate the liquid into the solid ingredients, 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.

34 Responses to Cranberry Crostata (Daring Bakers November)

  1. Your crostata looks beautiful! I too felt the same way about the crust. I love my flaky pie crust and this was more like shortbread. Nice job on the challenge!

  2. Beautiful job–lovely lattice work. I also made a cranberry filling, but I like the sounds of yours! My crust was shortbread-like, too.

  3. So beautiful! I love cranberries and haven’t ever used them in a tart. I think the shortbread-like crust works great with tarts. I suspect it’s the egg yolk and higher ratio of sugar that changes the texture from flaky pie crust to shortbread cookie-like.

  4. WOW that does look so delicious and I love the lattice you put on it also.

    Yes the final baked shell is more like a butter cookie than a pie crust but that is a good thing.

    Beautiful photos especially the last one.

    Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

  5. I don’t think my last comment went through so sorry if this a repeat

    WOW your crostat looks so delicious I love the lattice work on top. That last photo is a beauty.

    Yes the crust is like a butter cookie but that is a good thing. Well done on this challenge.

    Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

  6. Beautiful crostata! I feel the same way about the pastry – plus, mine shrunk down so much in the pie dish that I ended up taking the pie out of the dish and cutting it into bars!

  7. That is one of the most professional looking tarts I have ever seen! I am not a big cranberry fan but I would dig right into that one.

  8. Jen-your crostata looks gorgeous! This was my first DB challenge. I really enjoyed making my crostata for Thanksgiving and I love seeing what every one else made.