The Daring Bakers Make Crostate

In Daring Bakers, Tarts/Pies on November 27, 2010 at 7:22 pm
From Adriana Baking

Ever since starting my food blog, I’ve become interested in the preparation of food.  By the time six o’clock rolls around and my parents are in the kitchen making dinner, I hover behind them. On days they are cooking with onions, I can’t help but stir the thin, translucent layers as they bubble in a  fragrant coat of olive oil, turning crisp and brown at the edges. And if they are frying a cut of beef, I’m always standing nearby, inhaling the scent of butter wafting up from the pan.

Since the weather is finally cooling down, we’re enjoying hearty, satisfying stews made by my mother while I’m away at school. I can’t help her when I’m gone, but after coming home and recounting my day to her, the first words to inevitably slip out from between my lips are, “What’s for dinner?”

From Adriana Baking

This year, more so than ever, I wanted to contribute to the preparation of our Thanksgiving dinner. Though cooking is not my forte, Thanksgiving day I was in the kitchen peeling carrots with my father and watching him effortlessly chop herbs and prunes for the stuffing. We cooked together for some time, gradually turning the kitchen into a mess of dirty pots and pans. Our moments together were brief, interrupted by quick pauses at the computer where I printed out recipes to make later on in the day. Because our kitchen is tiny and incapable of holding more than two busy people at a time, I made my Daring Baker’s challenge in the few hours left of the morning before my father took over.

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.

Keeping with tradition, I chose to make a pumpkin themed dessert. Every year for Thanksgiving my mother makes a pumpkin cheesecake, but this year, I tackled the task myself. The cheesecake itself was perfect. I baked it in a large tart pan, hoping to have it turn out crostata-like. Because it was baked in a shallow pan and was very thin, it didn’t crack. My cheesecake was perfectly smooth, and as creamy as the whipped cream topping it. The pasta frolla dough I made held a deliciously gooey pecan pie my mother baked, and not my cheesecake. I didn’t quite follow the Daring Baker requirements, but I did make the pasta frolla. My mother and I swapped crusts because I hadn’t made enough dough to reach the sides of the large tart pan, and was running short on time. She offered me her pate brisee  in exchange for my pasta frolla.  Nonetheless, the cheesecake was wonderful, as was the pasta frolla baked beneath her pecan pie. The pasta frolla was cookie-like in texture, and I have decided to make the same cheesecake filling to top it for Christmas.

From Adriana Baking

Sitting around our Thanksgiving table a couple of nights ago, savoring a slice of cheesecake and wedge of pecan pie, I couldn’t have been happier. Among our neighbors, my family, and good food made with love, a sudden wave of thankfulness washed over me, and flowing endlessly, never stopped at the shore. Thankful for a family so food-oriented, full of support for my blog and everything else I do, for the laughter of two nights ago still resonating in my ears, and for the satisfaction I obtain out of simplicity, nothing could have blown out the bright flame of joy glowing deep within me.  I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Pumpkin Cheesecake

From the Joy of Cooking

2/3 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated or ground nutmeg
1 pound cream cheese
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1 cup pumpkin puree

Have all ingredients at room temperature, and preheat the oven to 350 F. Place a loaf pan or cake pan filled with hot water in the oven to moisten the air.

Combine the sugar and spices in a medium bowl. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese just until smooth, 30 to 60 seconds. Scrape the sides of the bowl and beaters well. Gradually add the sugar mixture and beat until smooth and creamy, 1 to 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs and egg yolks one at a time until well blended, and scraping the sides of the bowl and the beaters after each addition.  Add the pumpkin puree and beat until mixed.

Scrape the batter into the crostata dough and smooth the top. bake for 30 minutes at 350 F, reduce the oven to 325 F (my cheesecake was already baked through after the 30 minutes), and bake for 10 minutes longer, or until the edges of the cheesecake are puffed but the center still looks moist and jiggles when the pan is tapped.


Crostata Dough

1/2 c. minus 1 tablespoon  superfine sugar (see Note ) or a scant 3/4 cup  of powdered sugar
1 and 3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
a pinch of salt
1 stick 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

Note : Superfine sugar is often also referred to as ultrafine, baker’s sugar or caster sugar. It’s available in most supermarkets. If you cannot find “superfine” sugar, you can make your own by grinding regular granulated sugar in a food processor or blender until finely ground.

Whisk together sugar, flour and salt in a bowl. Cut the butter into the flour until the mixture is the consistency of coarse crumbs. You can do this in the bowl or on your work surface, using your fingertips or a pastry cutter. Make a well in the center of the mounded flour and butter mixture and pour the beaten eggs into it. 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. Take the pasta frolla out of the fridge, unwrap it and cut away ¼ of the dough. Reserve this dough to make the lattice top of the crostata (I chose not to make a lattice top).  Refrigerate this dough while you work on the tart base. To help roll the crostata dough, keep the dough on top of the plastic wrap that you had it wrapped in or between two sheets of wax paper.  This helps to roll the dough and also helps transfer the dough to your pan. You can also roll it directly onto your work surface.

Lightly dust the top of the dough and your work surface (if you’re rolling directly onto a 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 the dough 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 inch (3 mm) thick. If you used the plastic wrap or wax paper as a rolling surface, flip the dough over the pan, centering it, and press it all around so the corners are well covered. Peel away the plastic wrap.

Trim the excess dough hanging over the edges of the pan. Press the remaining dough around the border into the sides of the pan making sure the border is an even thickness all the way around. Prick the bottom of the dough with a fork in several places. Take out of the fridge the reserved pasta frolla you had cut away earlier (if making a lattice top or decorations). Roll it with your pin and cut into strips, use cookie cutters to make small shapes or roll with your hands into ropes. See above recipe for pumpkin cheesecake for baking times.

  1. That sounds like an absolutely perfect Thanksgiving, from preparing the meal and desserts as a family to the feeling of thankfulness that came over you through the meal. I actually love that you and your mom swapped crusts – just goes to show that you never know, but that everything works out. Great job on the challenge!

  2. your pumpkin cheesecake crostata looks so perfect and delicious! Glad you had such a wonderful thanksgiving 😀

  3. The pumpkin cheesecake filling looks so creamy and smooth, and your thanksgiving sounds wonderful!

  4. Your Thanksgiving day feast looks so delicious the filling is so silky and velvet like I’m so impressed with your efforts. Well done on this challenge. Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

  5. It looks super delicious! Great job on the challenge!

  6. It looks so gorgeous! smooth and velvety! great work!.

  7. I have seen so many pumpkin pies on the food blogosphere, as a Brazilian I wasn’t familiar with these, even though there are delicious pumpkin desserts here that are often served with fresh white cheese. So, your pumpkin cheese cake filling sounds so good. I’m willing to give this a try, I’m sure it’s delicious. Yours looks absolutely yummy!

  8. Mmmm puumpkin and cream cheese, a match made in heaven!

  9. yum! looks delicious! I’ve never tried a pumpkin cheesecake, but it sounds heavenly!

  10. This looks great and I am sure was perfect for Thanksgiving!

  11. Beautiful pumpkin cheesecake crostata! I love how your family improvises in the kitchen together. 🙂

  12. Its lovely that your family shares your love of food too. Treasure that, it will always be in your memories. And your cheesecake crostata looks perfect with the swirl of cream on top.

  13. Pumpkin — what a nice, fall-appropriate choice. Your crostata turned out beautifully!

  14. Hey Adriana, I think u might be interested in this article, check it out 😉

  15. What a beautiful Thanksgiving write up..loved reading about cooking with your dad, and just the whole feel of it was lovely and down home comfort stuff. Your pumpkin cheesecake crostata is beautiful, so rich and creamy looking. Awesome job!

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  17. I enjoyed reading your post. I like that you swapped dough with your mother. I am glad you liked both what you and your mother prepared for your dinner.

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