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The Daring Bakers' Challenge: Crostata alla Nutella

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Some of you may still be recovering from the cooking and eating at the delicious Thanksgiving feasts. I didn’t have to cook a thing this Thanksgiving. But I sure did eat! And I baked this year. I baked some pies. I baked two pies. I baked a cake.  I also baked this gorgeous crostata. This was my first time participating with The Daring Bakers.

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.

The base of a crostata is pasta frolla (or pasta frolla), sweet short crust pastry (or sweet tart dough) made of flour, sugar, butter and eggs. Pasta frolla is versatile: it provides the base to make crostata with fruit preserves, pastry cream, fresh fruit, ricotta, and other ingredients, and, by itself, it makes very nice cookies.

For the challenge, we had a choice of two types of dough made with eggs (the first was a simple sweet crust pastry, and the second used a mixture of almond meal, and barley flour with normal wheat flour). I decided to use the first recipe.

I can’t tell you how pleasantly surprised I was to see the first challenge for me with Daring Bakers be a crostata made with pasta frolla. My mother-in-law in Italy makes the best crostata. I had to challenge myself and see if I could come close to her baking perfection. It was a hit at the Thanksgiving dessert table!

The last time I had one of her crostatas was this summer in Italy. It was filled with her tasty homemade strawberry jam. It was AMAZING! I could only imagine filling my crostata with Nutella! A Nutella crostata is simple to make and simply irresistible! I always have a jar or two of Nutella handy.

 Recipe Source:
There are many recipes for pasta frolla and different ideas about how to make it. Simona gave us two versions that she has been using for some time. They have been inspired by those in the book La scienza in cucina e l’arte di mangiare bene by Pellegrino Artusi (1820-1911). The book was first published in 1891, and is available in English translation as Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well.

Version 1 of pasta frolla
Ingredients:
  • 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
  • Nutella for filling: about 2 - 2 1/2 cups (I didn't measure)
* I did not add the grated lemon zest or the vanilla sugar. I would probably add the lemon zest if I were making an apple crostata.

Note 1: 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 putting some regular granulated sugar in a food processor or blender and letting it run until the sugar is finely ground.
Note 2: There are different ways of making vanilla sugar. I keep vanilla beans in a jar half-filled with sugar until I need to use them, for example, to make vanilla ice cream. After I remove the split bean from the custard that will go into the ice cream maker, I rinse it, dry it and put it back in the jar with sugar.

I chose to make the pasta frolla by hand.

This is how my crostata looked when I first took it out of the oven. It was piping hot and the smell of Nutella was mesmerizing!
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Look at how tempting this Nutella crostata is!  Delicious!!
Of all the desserts I made this past week for Thanksgiving, this was by far…my FAVORITE!
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Making pasta frolla by hand:
  1. Whisk together sugar, flour and salt in a bowl.
  2. Rub or cut the butter into the flour until the mixture has the consistency of coarse crumbs. You can do this in the bowl or on your work surface, using your fingertips or an implement of choice.
  3. Make a well in the center of the mounded flour and butter mixture and pour the beaten eggs into it (reserve about a teaspoon of the egg mixture for glazing purposes later on – place in the refrigerator, covered, until ready to use).
  4. Add the lemon zest to your flour/butter/egg mixture.
  5. Use a fork to incorporate the liquid into the solid ingredients, and then use your fingertips.
  6. Knead lightly just until the dough comes together into a ball.
  7. 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.
 
Assembling and baking the crostata con la Nutella:
  1. Heat the oven to 325ºF.
  2. 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. Refrigerate this dough while you work on the tart base.
  3. To help roll the crostata dough, keep the dough on top of the plastic wrap that you had it wrapped in. This can help rolling the dough and can also help when transferring the dough to your pan. You can also use parchment paper for this. However, you can also roll the dough directly on a work surface if you prefer.
  4. Lightly dust the top of the dough and your work surface (if you’re rolling directly on a work surface) with flour. Keep some flour handy to dust the dough as you go along.
  5. 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.
  6. Roll the dough into a circle about 1/8th inch (3 mm) thick.
  7. If you used the plastic wrap or parchment paper as rolling surface, flip dough over the pan, centering it, and delicately press it all around so the corners are well covered. Peel away the plastic wrap.
  8. 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.
  9. Prick the bottom of the dough with a fork in several places.
  10. Take out of the fridge the reserved pasta frolla you had cut away earlier. Roll it with your pin and cut into strips or use cookie cutters to make small shapes (this is not traditional, but it looks cute); or roll with your hands into ropes.
  11. Instead of jam or fruit preserves, cover the bottom of the crostata crust evenly with the Nutella.
  12. Use the prepared strips or rolls of dough to make a lattice over the surface, or decorate with the cut shapes. (Note: You can use dough scraps to make cookies: see the Additional Information section for some pointers). I rolled out strips of the scraps and decorated the top of the crostata.
  13. Brush the border and strips of dough with the reserved beaten eggs. You can add a drop or two of water to the beaten eggs if you don’t have enough liquid. (I did not brush the crostata with beaten eggs)
  14. Put the tart in the oven and bake for 30 minutes.
  15. After 35 minutes, check the tart, and continue baking until the tart is of a nice golden hue. (Note: Every oven is different. In my oven it took 45 minutes to bake the tart until golden.)
  16. When done, remove the tart from the oven and let cool. If you have used a tart pan with a removable bottom, then release the tart base from the fluted tart ring. Make sure the tart is completely cool before slicing and serving.
  17. Dust with powdered sugar.

59 comments

  1. Congrats on your first DB challenge...one done in style! It's lovely!What a great flavour combination.

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  2. Guess how my crostata for the DB is? Yes, right...with nutella! Still not the 27th here but it will be up soon. Great job on your first challenge!

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  3. Congrats on your first DB challenge...one done in style! It's lovely!What a great flavour combination.

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  4. I just saw your Foodbuzz status...congratulations on completing your first challenge! Nutella would be amazing in a crostata. Nice work! ;)

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  5. Welcome and hello to the Daring Bakers' and congratulations on your very successful first challenge. I hope you have many happy experiences with us.

    WOW yes I agree with you nutella is a stunning filling for a crostata. And your final version looks so professional I hope it was close to your mum-in-law's tart.

    Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

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  6. Now that's one very good looking Crostata di Nutella, always a classy one that.

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  7. Your crostata looks great! Congrats on your first challenge!

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  8. I love the look of this pie too, can understand why it's your favourite!

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  9. Mmm nutella! This is great crostata!

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  10. An entire crostata filled with nutella! That sounds just like my kind of thing. I can just begin to imagine what the warm nutella would smell like. Your crostata looks lovely :)

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  11. I can almost smell the deliciousness of this Nutella Crostata right out of the oven! Heaven! Welcome to the DBs and thanks for your lovely comment on my post!

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  12. Welcome to Daring Bakers - are you stalking me? First FFWD, now DB - LOL! So glad to have you on board too! Looking forward to seeing all your creations. This is awesome!

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  13. It looks almost too beautiful to eat.

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  14. Oh, yours looks like it was so much better than mine! I made a torta di ricotta and didn't care for it much at all. Nutella would have been so much better! I'll have to try your way. Did you do the lemon zest in your crust? I did and did not like it.

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  15. So lovely. Beautiful job. Fabulous use of Nutella. ;)

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  16. Lora, you did an incredible job on your first Daring Bakers challenge! It looks gorgeous! Not to mention so delicious (if I could eat Nutella, I would sooo devour your whole crostata). Such a creative filling too. Oh I feel so proud of you so tackling your first challenge and doing an INCREDIBLE job! :) YEAH!!!

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  17. Wow! your crust is stunning! Brava!

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  18. Stunning Lora!!! Your mother-in-law would be proud indeed - and I would say that your first DB challenge is a HUGE success!

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  19. What a wonderful filling :) I'm glad you joined in on all fun! I've been doing it for a few months and I've loved every challenge so far! Cheers to not having to cook for turkey day! ha

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  20. Amazing. I loove love love nutella! It is so beautiful topped with that powdered sugar. Yum!

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  21. Congrats on your first challenge! This was my second. So much fun being part of this group. Your crostata is beautiful!
    http://thejoyofcaking.wordpress.com

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  22. Gorgeous! Congrats on completing for first challenge! I've been wanting to do one myself. This looks so good!

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  23. Gorgeous! What a beautiful tart and... who can go wrong with Nutella?!

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  24. I hope your crostata made your mother in law proud. Nutella was an excellent filling choice!

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  25. Lora-This is a superb and gorgeous nutella filled crostata. Not one morsel was left over. So amazing!

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  26. Welcome to the Daring Bakers! What a gorgeous job you've done on your first challenge. The Nutella filling is such a great idea!

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  27. what a beautiful crostata!! nutella is such a perfect choice for this time of year..you outdid yourself with DB challenge!!
    The nutella calls me back to my time in Italy...sigh

    Cheers
    Dennis

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  28. Great first challenge! This turned out beautifully. :)

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  29. Welcome to Daring Bakers! Your crostata looks great! I like the lattice work and the sprinkled powder sugar coating. Nice job on the challenge!

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  30. Love this crostata! I would be all over this, I love Nutella!

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  31. Mmmm . . Nutella! Great idea for the crostata. Beautiful job.

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  32. Any excuse for a dessert with nutella in and I am there! Why didn't I think of doing that?!

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  33. Congratulations on your first challenge, great job!

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  34. I take extra pasta frolla and make them into cookies. I love trying new pasta frolla recipes. And I am saving this for Christmas Eve. I figure even if I do blow the crust - no one will care when the filling is nutella.

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  35. Hi love! What a beautiful job with this crostata...it looks like it should be sold at an Italian bakery...just perfect! I love hearing about recipes that have some family tie. I'm sure your mother-in-law would have been thrilled with this beauty! I love nutella, and I am always a fan of pastry dough/shortbread...so I hope to make this soon. Thank you for sharing, and again...job well done!

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  36. Gorgeous! Nutella makes everything better. :) Congrats on your first challenge! This was mine as well.

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  37. Congrats on yet another Top 9 hun!! Your desserts always look incredibly good!!

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  38. mmmm
    I could make desappear in just 5 seconds...
    Lovely!
    Barbara

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  39. Beautiful!!!

    Congratulations on another Top 9! You rock!!!

    I joined Daring Bakers months ago...and need to get on the ball! You've inspired me :)

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  40. Oh wow, I can't tell you how much I want to eat that. The picture with the dusting of icing sugar is stunning! Nice idea with the Nutella too. It sounds so dreamy.

    Welcome to the Daring Bakers!

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  41. congratulations on making the top 9 with your beautiful crostata filled with Nutella.
    You have some delicious recipes on your blog, I enjoyed my visit here;)

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  42. Delicious looking piece!
    If you guys are playing with Nutella, i might have to join this Daring Baker's !! :)

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  43. My tummy may be full still from Thanksgiving, but I will always have room for a gorgeous Crostata alla Nutella like this! Stunning!

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  44. Oooohhh Nutella crostata wish I had of thought of that, must have smelt heavenly baking....Looks lovely.

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  45. you really are the cake queen, aren't you? the crostata looks amazing. I wonder if I decide to make it I wonder how much nutella I have to buy to make sure I don't eat it all before I take the pastry out of the fridge. hmm, hard task
    hope you're having a wonderful weekend

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  46. You have done an excellent job! Your tart looks fantastic!

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  47. Crongratulations for your first challenge!
    Great job!
    DB is so nice, to blog around and see a lot of yummy recipes! So many good ways of making a pie!

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  48. It is a gorgeous crostata, for certain! Glad you are enjoying DB!

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  49. I'm drooling by just looking at your photo, such mouthwatering dessert that one can hardly resists.
    Thanks for dropping by my blog, hoping to see you again.

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  50. This looks like the perfect addition to the Thanksgiving dessert table :) I love the sprinkling of powdered sugar. Great job on the challenge!

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  51. What a splendid crostata! That filling is just sooo irresistible.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  52. Wow! First of all congratulations on your first DB challenge! And second, this is one amazing crostata! Your MIL would indeed be proud!

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  53. Welcome to the DB! Nice work on your first challenge, your crostata looks great!

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  54. Ahhhh, more nutella. Mesmerizing is a good word to use with it too. The pie looks fantastic and I'm sure tasted even better. Wow.

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  55. Welcome to Daring Bakers. Your crostata looks very elegant. I am glad that you liked it.

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  56. I got horribly behind on my RSS reader, and I'm just getting caught up on this month's Daring Bakers posts now. But, I wanted to tell you that this looks lovely! Love that you used Nutella :)

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