Friday, November 26, 2010

Crostata, Tarte or Pie - Good No Matter How You Slice It (Daring Bakers 11/10)

Tarte Aux Poires Et Chocolat (Pear & Chocolate Tart)

A little while back, I had the pleasure of being the Chef for an evening with Anne Willan (creator of LaVarenne in France). It was a small tasting event at the chic Algabar Tea in Los Angeles. The night was a book signing event with invited guests that included an evening of Anne's travel stories and a sampling of her chosen recipes prepared (gulp). Although I was nervous with desire to prepare and please with the courses from her book, "The Country Cooking of France" (and a bit intimidated for sure), the evening was a complete success. Anne could not have been more gracious, elegant and warm. She included me in the Q & A after the meal, and praised me generously. In a town like Los Angeles - where I have worked beside some people (celebrities) whose work I admired, only to find them lacking in the "how to not act like a jerk" department - Anne Willan was a treasure.When I read this month's Daring Baker's challenge was a crostata (an Italian tart), I immediately thought of the many Tartes I made that night for our tasting. Although, I love all Italian foods and I've made many Italian Crostatas, I also love to be connected to the process in a personal way. Besides, this time I was going to be not only cooking it, but eating it too, oh yeah.
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.

If we get very specific here: a Crostata (Italian) is very often a free formed pastry and a Tarte (French) is more structured. The actual ingredients may vary according to local supplies, the fruits that are in season and the availability of eggs, butter and sugar. In the United States, we often just use the word "Pie" for anything that is encased in pastry no matter how big or small, fruit or savory, baked or fried. No matter what you call it, when it's this good your mouth will be too full to talk about it anyway.

As part of the challenge, we were given the recipe for the pastry and it follows:

Pasta Frolla-

1/2 cup minus 1 Tbls. superfine sugar
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
pinch of salt
1 stick (8 Tbls. ) 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
1) Whisk together the flour, sugar and salt in a bowl.
2) Rub or cut the butter into the flour until the mixture is coarse crumbs.
3) Pour the flour mixture onto the work board, make a well in the center of the mounded flour mixture and pour the beaten eggs into it.
4) Add the lemon zest to the flour/butter/egg mixture
5) Use a fork to incorporate the liquid into the solid ingredients and use your fingertips.
6) Knead just until the dough comes together into a ball
7) Shape the dough into a flat disk and wrap in plasic. Chill for at least an hour
8) When ready, remove the chilled dough and roll out thin and a little bigger than a 10" tart pan.
9) Carefully lift the dough and place into the tart pan, pressing gently around the inside edges and rolling your rolling pin over the top to trim the pastry so it fits the tart pan.
10) Chill the tart shell in the pan for about 30 minutes so the pastry doesn't shrink when cooking.
Fill and Bake as your recipe suggests, or blind bake (pre bake ) the tart shell for filling with a custard or fruit.

Tarte Aux Poires Et Chocolat recipe (* waiting for permission to reprint, please check back) and seriously consider getting a copy. I have probably made over 30 recipes just from her book.


Audax said...

Your pear and chocolate crostata look so perfect I love the sliced pears as decorations and I love the photos of you and Anne Willan that must for been smashing evening. Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

gourmandrea said...

Congrats on such a wonderful honor! Your tart is gorgeous I love the flower design

Poires au Chocolat said...

Pear and chocolate (as evidenced by the name of my blog!) is one of my favourite combinations so this immediately caught my eye. Looks great!

Savoring Italy said...

Congratulations...what a special honor. Your crostata looks delicious and beautiful. I really enjoyed my first Daring Baker challenge:)

Anonymous said...

Beautiful presentation and lovely pictures. Congrats!

Renata said...

Stunning Crostata! Love how you decorated with the slices of pear! Brilliant! Thanks for your kind comment on mine! You've got a beautiful blog here! I'm following you!

Todd M said...

Beautiful presentation and looks like an interesting way of doing the chocolate - hopefully you can post the recipe.

Nancy said...

WOO HOO!!! How exciting!! I have no doubt that the food for the event was divine - the tart is absolutely gorgeous. I always love the addition of lemon zest to crusts!!

Sabrina Modelle- The Tomato Tart said...

Wow, that is absolutely glamourous. I can't even imagine making something so beautiful. I'm just starting to bake. I've been a cooker person much longer, and I aspire to challenging things like this. Drool. Great job.

Jenni said...

Simply stunning! Well done!