Tuesday, November 30, 2010

November Daring Bakers - Pecan Crostata

My original plan for the challenge this month was some sort of a caramel and chocolate ganache crostata. Sounds good, huh? Some day it will be but instead I decided to make a crostata for the husband's birthday. Since his birthday falls around Thanksgiving, it usually got lumped in with the family Thanksgiving celebration and his birthday "cake" was always a pecan pie, his favorite. With a candle, of course. I, on the other hand, do NOT like pecan pies. I try to like them, but the goopy sweet snot in the middle always ruins it for me. I usually end up eating the pecan topping and sadly throwing the rest away.

I decided that it was perfect for this month's Daring Bakers challenge. Since the tart pan is so shallow, it would have a better goop to pecan ratio. Awwwww yeah. But please don't tell my husband that I sacrificed his beloved pecan pie with something that would suit my tastes better. On his birthday. Whoops.

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.

I used the crostata recipe provided by Simona and it came out perfectly! Since I am a bit of the lazy side, I made the dough in my food processor. Here's how it goes:

  • 1/2 c. minus 1 tablespoon [105 ml, 100 g, 3 ½ oz] superfine sugar (see Note 1) 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
  • a 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.

  • Put sugar, flour, salt, and lemon zest in the food processor and pulse a few times to mix.
  • Add butter and pulse a few times, until the mixture has the consistency of coarse meal.
  • Empty food processor's bowl onto your work surface
  • Make a well in the center of the mounded flour and butter mixture and pour the beaten eggs into it
  • 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.

    *Superfine sugar is also referred to as baker's sugar, caster sugar or ultrafine. I found it at my local supermarket but it cost $5 for a small 1 lb bag. Instead, you can just put regular granulated sugar in a food processor and let it run until it's very fine.

    **The vanilla sugar idea sounded delicious but I didn't have any vanilla beans on hand, nor have I ever stored the beans in sugar so I added about a 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract to the sugar before  running it through the processor. Turned out really well and smelled divine!

    I blind baked the crostata at 350 degrees for 20 minutes before I filled it.

    Now, for the filling I used a recipe from Bon Vivant, but adapted it to my crostata.

    ½ cup light corn syrup
    ½ cup packed brown sugar
    3 tablespoons/ 45 grams unsalted butter, melted and cooled
    3 large eggs
    2 teaspoons espresso powder
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
    ¼ teaspoon salt
    7 ounces/ 200 grams pecan halves or pieces
    (I also used a handful of bittersweet chocolate chips but would not add them next time)

    Preheat the oven to 425F/ 220C.
    In a large bowl, whisk the corn syrup and brown sugar until smooth, then add the melted butter, whisking as you do so. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating each egg into the mixture before adding the next.
    Whisk everything until you get a smooth foamy mixture, then add the espresso powder, vanilla, cinnamon and salt and beat everything in. Rap the bowl against the counter a few times to remove any bubbles from the batter, then stir in the pecans and chocolate. Pour the filling into the crust.
    Place the baking pan on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicon mat. Bake the pie for 15 minutes. In the meantime, get your crust shield ready, or prepare one by cutting a 9-inch circle out of an 11-inch square of aluminium foil. When the 15 minutes are over, lower the heat to 325F/ 170C, place the foil shield over the crust and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes, or until the pie has puffed, is brown and doesn’t jiggle when tapped.
    Remove the foil shield, leave to cool to temperature before cutting and serving.

    Yum. Minimal goop.

    1 comment:

    Sue said...

    I think you have the right idea with minimizing the "goop"! :)