Having Thanksgiving dinner at another house means many things. It means there will be exponentially fewer dishes to wash, but more importantly, it tells me that I will have fewer leftovers. That may sometimes be beneficial—there's only so much stuffing two people can eat—but it also means no pie.
Pumpkin pie is good, but it's never been my favorite; I tend to prefer it piled with mountains of softly whipped cream. I'm generally more likely to eat apple pie, or pear-cranberry crisp, or perhaps a pumpkin cheesecake with caramel sauce.
This year, I took advantage of the Daring Bakers' Challenge for November and made a few crostate.
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.
Crostata is simply an Italian tart, traditionally filled with pastry cream, preserves, fresh fruit, or any number of other delicious things.
My first crostata was only half a success. The pasta frolla (crust) was spread with a layer of almond cream, then covered in a layer of sliced poached pears before baking. The almond cream—adapted from a recipe to accommodate my ingredients—was a bit too sweet, and I wished that I had used fresh pears to counteract that sweetness. Still, it was a big hit with the others.
A few days later, I pulled out my baking supplies and the last of my butter to make another crostata, and I wanted to use preserves. I still hadn't figured out what I wanted to do with my damson plum preserves, and a tart seemed to be the perfect choice. A few adjustments to the pasta frolla recipe, and an ideal dessert was born.
The pasta frolla recipe provided for the challenge calls for either lemon zest or vanilla sugar. However, since the plum preserves are quite tart and already studded with vanilla seeds, I decided to leave out both and keep the crust simple. The buttery, crumbly crust provides an ideal base for the sweet-tart filling; perhaps adding a dollop of whipped cream is gilding the lily, but it made for a delicious dessert-cum-dinner last night.