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Archive for November 27th, 2010

Ricotta Cheese Crostata

This months Bakers Challenge  was brought us by Simona  from briciole. It is a simple, yet delicious, Italian tart traditionally made with a jam filling or pastry cream and fresh fruit. I chose to do another  Italian filling; ricotta cheese with Marsala soaked raisins.

The pastry dough is extremely easy to work with. I used almond flour in combination with all-purpose and whole wheat flour.  You can’t really tell from the picture but there is a lattice crust on top. It was very simple to do and makes any dessert look elegant. I covered mine with some sliced almonds before baking to enhance the nuttiness of the crust but you can leave your plain so the lattice is the focal point; just brush the lattice with an egg wash before baking to give it a nice shine.

There are so many variations for fillings, so use your imagination and have fun!

Pasta Frolla (Italian shortbread pastry) 

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup superfine sugar (I like to use vanilla sugar)*
  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tablespoons  unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 1/3 cup almond flour, or almond meal, or coconut flour
  • a pinch of salt
  • 6 tablespoons [90ml, 85 g, 3 oz] cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

*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.

I make vanilla sugar by putting the pods of vanilla beans (after I have scraped out the seeds) into my sugar container. Shake it well after 1 or 2 days to evenly distribute. It will infuse the sugar with the most heavenly vanilla fragrance.

Filling:

2 C whole milk ricotta cheese
2 eggs
1/2 C sugar
zest of 1 orange
1/2 tsp Foira di Sicilia or vanilla extract
1/2 C raisins, soaked in 1/4 C Marsala wine (or rum) for at least 2 hours, up to 24 hours.

Combine all the filling ingredients, except the raisins, in a food processor and whirl for 1 minutes. It will become very smooth and creamy. Drain the raisins and stir into the cheese mixture. Pour into the prepared crust. Place your reserved pie strips in a lattice fashion across the top and sprinkle generously with sliced almonds. Bake for approximately 35 minutes or until a golden brown. Let cool completely before taking it out of the tart pan.
This will keep very well in the fridge for up to 5 days, but bring it back to room temperature before serving.

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