This month was my first time participating in the Daring Kitchen's baking challenge. Each month a host reveals a new challenge in the web-site's private forums and then the 100's participants have until the 27th to attempt it. Lots of experienced bakers offer tips and advice and you can ask for help in the forums or just post pictures of your completed item.
This month's challenge was crostata with your choice of filling. The base of a crostata is pasta frolla, which is a sweet short crust pastry (or sweet tart dough) made of flour, sugar, butter and eggs.
Many of bakers posted that they found the dough too dry and crumbly. The general advice was not to worry if your dough seem dry or cracked: after chilling overnight and working it with a rolling pin it would come together.
Far and away the best advice that was given was to grate chilled butter from the fridge with a cheese grater and then freeze it. Amazing!! It was incredibly easy to do and then when it came time to cut the butter into the flour without melting any it worked perfectly. It helps make a flaky pastry because the butter forms pockets in the crust.
My dough seemed hard to work with at first, but after I rolled it between two pieces of wax paper it came together enough to line a pie tin with.
I planned on using pastry cream as a base and then adding a layer of raspberry jam. The pastry cream recipe provided was not getting the best reviews. Some people felt that the result was too rubbery and dry. I decided to use this recipe instead. I made it the night before along with the dough and chilled them both in the fridge overnight.
Sadly, I wasn't crazy about the result for a few reasons. The pastry cream was delicious but with this version of pastry cream the crust really should have been bind baked beforehand. The recipe for the crust had said to just spread the pastry cream on and then bake together, but my crust soaked in some of the pastry cream and as a result it wasn't as flaky or crisp as I would have liked.
Secondly, the raspberry jam really was too overpowering for the pastry cream. If I were to attempt this again (which I am planning on doing) I would either skip the fruit altogether or just layer on some fresh fruit.
It was a fun experience and I'm already excited to see what December's challenge will be. This time I'll get the challenge done earlier in the month so that I can make a second attempt if I need to before the reveal blog post date.