Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Crostata di marmellata: Daring Bakers' Challenge June 2013: Life of Pie

Rachael from pizzarossa was our lovely June 2013 Daring Bakers’ host and she had us whipping up delicious pies in our kitchens! Cream pies, fruit pies, chocolate pies, even crack pies! There’s nothing like pie!  Smile

Yes, it makes one swoon. A piesighting may be followed by the eyebulging-tongue-tied demeanor, often accompanied with extreme emotion and possible occurrences of fainting. It is a bounty of dreamy love made better when piled into a wide, shallow, generously butter endowed shell. Are we ready? Let's speak pie! 
I was fortunate to get behemoth sized berries this time round, though the simmering juices in a forty minute bake took their size down tremendously.

With four options to pick and choose, it was the crostata that fascinated me. Although I've heard so much about the Momofuku Legend and it begs me try, I 'll save it for another day. As this wasn't my first time at crostata. I'd kneaded my way through several rustic, freehand (read ugly and fall apart) discs of dough. 

Here, I wished to turn history around, my attention focused onto this one elegant- than- most crust option, that too, with much filling potential. According to its description on the challenge page, "Crostate are a traditional Italian sweet treat, most often filled with jam, preserved or fresh fruit, or nut-based fillings such as almond/ hazelnut paste, they can be filled with pastry cream, citrus curd or numerous other delights". A crostata di marmellata would then be best defined as a preserve- filled pie crust, somewhat to the likes of a giant shortbread/ jam cookie. 

What makes this dough, the pasta frolla so delicious? The two-thirds cup of glorious butter, softened to touch. This only needed fat works its way through the pastry, so also the addition of a sole egg which pulls brilliantly into a  no- fail and easily put- together base shell.

The simplicity of strawberries sitting over a bed of blackberry spread made this 9 inch tart lofty and luxurious, to epic proportions I must say. The tartness that plays off the fruit balances almost even thanks to the sugar thats thrown in. Much kudos to parbaking of the shell, for that led to no more soggy bottoms and rendered firm and unintimidated edges.

With July 4th up and coming, I knew that there may not be a chance to bring over another themed update. So, further to the as- is late entry, I decided on a festive splash of cookie cutter stars to crest Crostata di Marmellata. Though I will add, it was a different take, to my visionary second child, who noticed only "starfish floating on a red sea". Seriously, his imagination one-ups my pie artistry skills.  You don't need to agree with me on that, please.

( Pasta Frolla and glaze recipes adapted from Daring Bakers' Challenge Page)
(My additions/modifications in purple italics)

Pasta Frolla~

  • ⅔ c unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ⅓ c sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • grated zest of 1 medium lemon
  • 1 ⅔ cups all-purpose flour
  • pinch salt


(My own)

  • 1 c blackberry preserves
  • 2 c strawberries, hulled and halved
  • ⅓ c granulated sugar  ( more or less depending on level of fruit sweetness)
  • 1 tbsp flour

  • Combine strawberries with sugar and flour. Set aside.

Crostata di Marmellata~
  • Using a paddle attachment on a stand mixer or an electric hand mixer or using hand and whisk, cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, 2 - 5 minutes. If you want to do a more intricate lattice, I'd recommend a shorter creaming time so you have a firmer dough.
  • Whisk in egg, vanilla and lemon zest, one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition.
  • Add flour and salt and mix until the dough comes together but remains soft, about 1 minute using a stand or electric mixer or a wooden spoon if mixing by hand. Don't over-mix.
  • Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes to one hour.
  • When getting ready to bake, rest dough at room temperature for about 30 minutes.
  • Lightly grease a shallow 9" metal pie dish.
  • On either a piece of parchment or a lightly floured surface, roll 2/3 of the dough (about 12oz) out to a circle slightly bigger than the pie dish. Use parchment with a circle traced to roll as quickly as possible, before the dough gets too soft to handle, then use the parchment to transfer it to the dish.
  • Transfer the dough to the pie dish, press in gently and roll the edges to form a good lip for attaching the lattice later. Prick all over the bottom with a fork.
  • Refrigerate the dough-lined pie dish for 30 minutes to reduce shrinkage during baking.
  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Line pastry with parchment and fill with dry beans or pie weights. Bake until set, around 15 minutes.
  • Remove the weights and parchment and allow to cool. If using a springform or loose based pie dish, remove the side of the pan.
  • Preheat oven to  400°F.
  • Roll the remaining dough to fit the pie dish and cut it into roughly half "strips. Or bring out your  cutters and create your own design.
  • Spread the preserves over the par-baked crust. Top with strawberries.
  • Arrange the strips of dough in a lattice pattern over the filling, trim as needed and lightly pinch the ends onto the rolled edge of the bottom crust.
  • Place pie dish on a baking sheet and place in center of oven. Bake until lattice is golden, around 20 minutes. Mine took 35 minutes to brown. Meanwhile, prepare the glaze.
  • ¼ cup apricot jam
  • 1-2 tsp fresh lemon juice
Glaze Directions:

  • Heat the jam and water in a small saucepan over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil. Alternatively, you can heat it on medium-high in a bowl in the microwave for about 2 minutes, stirring halfway.
  • Strain through a fine mesh sieve if it's chunky.
  • While glaze and pie are both still warm, brush over top crust.
Rachael's notes~
The amount of time you cream the butter will affect the final dough - longer means lighter which in turn means a softer, more fragile dough which is less easy to work, similar to that of cooked pastry.

Thanks Rachael for such an apt and season appropriate challenge. Life without pie would be a sad one, indeed.

 Last year : Smoked salmon rolls
 4th of July inspiration~Why not these tarts?

For you have rescued me from death; you have kept my feet from slipping. So now I can walk in your presence, O God in your life giving light." Psalm 56:13 (NLT)



  1. A perfect for July 4th with all the stars :).Love ur own addition !!

  2. Very right, that's indeed looking like a starfish floating on a red sea! Looks wonderful Tisa.. Very festive looking pics. Thank you for sharing the recipe

  3. uff... looks so amazing tisa... yummy... love the stars on the top, gorgeous!!!

  4. That is such a beautiful pie! And seasonally perfect :)

  5. Your pie is swoon worthy :D

    Choc Chip Uru

  6. Tisa, this pie looks amazing! Love how you used the stars as a crust!

  7. Perfectly baked one !! I always wanted to bake a pie, but have never tried my luck on it. This looks awesome with the stars & berries :) A colorful pie !

  8. What a delicious pie. Will surely try out soon. Thanks for sharing.
    View our blog http://www.indiaandworldcuisine.blogspot.in/

  9. Pie is too humble a word for your gorgeous piece of dessert art! Thank you for sharing.

  10. Fell In Love With This :)
    You have an award Waiting for you in my space http://sweets-n-spices.blogspot.in/2013/07/gulgule-award.html Please do collect it and Share it in your space


Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me!