Daring Baker: Nutella Crostata

        MY FIRST DARING BAKER CHALLENGE

Introducing: Nutella Crostata

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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. And fun fact. It’s my favorite food.

I chose to make a Crostata, but instead of the standard marmalade/fruit filling, the Nutella devil living inside my gut worked his devil magic. Sorry Nutella, but you just can’t claim to be healthy, unless you’re dealing with stupid Americans. But then they’ll just sue — oh wait.

I brought in my crostata to work at OXO, since we were having a “circle” themed party. What does that mean? Refer to below images:

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Homemade marshmallow treats

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Circle Salad and Doughnuts from the NYC Doughnut Plant.

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Homemade “Oreos” and cupcakes from Baked by Melissa

Pasta frolla is the Italian dough recipe that is used for a crostata. It is basically a friendlier pie crust. Plus the unbaked dough tastes sweet like sugar cookies (I am not endorsing that you eat raw dough, ((but do!!!)). The butter is mixed in at room temperature — so there’s no attempt at cutting in hard blocks and you can pretty much leave the labor to your mixer. Just don’t over mix once the flour has been added because you don’t want to overwork the gluten.

That being said, let’s talk about why I suck at making pies. This dough is at lot softer than normal pie dough, so the tricky part is getting it into the pie pan without falling apart *was not my forte*.  Pre-bake it using pie weights, i.e. ceramic ball things, which I own, or uncooked beans. My crusts always expand too much at this part, so I end up flattening the dough into the pan with the back of a spoon after it bakes.

Once you get the pie crust made, the rest is sweet nutella history.

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Pasta Frolla (basic Italian pie pastry)

2/3 cup (160 ml) (150 gm) (5-1/3 oz) unsalted butter, room temperature

1/3 cup (80 ml) (75 gm) (2-2/3 oz) sugar

1 large egg, room temperature

1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract

grated zest of 1 medium lemon (I left out, as I went with Nutella instead of fruit)

1-2/3 cups (400 ml) (225 gm) (8 oz) all-purpose flour

pinch salt

1.5 – 2 cups Nutella (around half the standard jar)

1. Using a paddle attachment on a stand mixer or an electric hand mixer or whisk, cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, 2 -5 minutes. 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, but I prefer the texture of the cooked pastry this way because it’s lighter too. If you want to do a more intricate lattice, I’d recommend a shorter creaming time so you have a firmer dough.
2. Add the egg, vanilla and lemon zest, one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition.
3. Add the 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.

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4. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes to one hour ( I did an hour and a half)

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5. When getting ready to bake, rest dough at room temperature for about 30 minutes.
6. Lightly grease a shallow 9″/24cm metal pie dish.
7. On either a piece of parchment or a lightly floured surface, roll 2/3 of the dough out to a circle to generously line the pie dish. I prefer to use parchment with a circle traced on it so I can roll it as quickly as possible, before the dough gets too soft to handle, then use the parchment to transfer it to the dish.

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8. Transfer the dough to the pie dish, press in gently and roll the edges to form a good surface for attaching the lattice later. Prick all over the bottom with a fork.

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9. Refrigerate the dough-lined pie dish for 30 minutes to reduce shrinkage during baking.
10. Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C
11. Line pastry with parchment and fill with dry beans or pie weights. Bake until set, around 15 minutes.

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12. Remove the weights and parchment and allow to cool. If using a springform or loose based pie dish, remove the side of the pan.
13. Preheat oven to moderately hot 400°F/200°C/gas mark 6.
14. Roll the remaining dough to fit the pie dish and cut it into roughly half inch/1.5cm-wide strips.

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15. Spread the nutella over the par-baked crust.

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16. Arrange the strips of dough in a lattice over the filling, trim as needed and lightly pinch the ends onto the rolled edge of the bottom crust.
17. Place pie dish on a baking sheet and place in center of oven. Bake until lattice is golden, around 20 minutes (I made a foil tent around my crust to prevent burning after 15 minutes, then continued baking for another 15 minutes).

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