Free-form Italian dessert suitable for late fall or early winter eatingYesterday was baking and eating day. First, there were cookies to bake for the 10th annual Mapleton Hill Cookie Exchange in the early afternoon. I made Viennese vanilla crescents, my perennial favorite — one that I’ve never done as well as my Austrian grandmother. Each of 80 neighborhood women brought cookies (mostly home-baked) that were then divided into the kind of carton that hotels use for box lunches. Then there was neighbors Vivian and Jim’s annual evening open house. When I asked whether I could bring something, Vivian replied, “How about a dessert?”
In the morning, I baked cookies and prepared the dough for the pear crostata I planned to bring in the evening. The dough rested in the refrigerator until I returned from the cookie exchange. I took it out while I made the filling, “cheating” by using caramel ice cream topping from a jar, which I adapted from an online apple crostata recipe. With all the baking and other chores yesterday, I didn’t manage to take any pictures.
The image below is actually a peach crostata from Rakestraw Books, an independent bookstore (my favorite kind) in Danville, California. Peaches are out of season, but Bosc pears from the Pacific Northwest are in season now. My pear version looked quite similar, but as usual, I cobbled together several recipes. What I ended up making is in the recipe below the picture.
Pasta Frolla (Italian Sweet Pastry Dough)
1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. +/- grated lemon zest*
1 lightly beaten egg
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
In a food processor fitted with the steel blade, combine flour, sugar, butter and salt, and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add lemon zest, egg and vanilla, and continue processing until dough forms a ball and rides around on the blade. Wrap in waxed paper and refrigerate for at least one hour. While oven is preheating, let dough soften again at room temperature.
*I used McCormick’s Lemon Peel from a jar, because I didn’t have a fresh lemon in the house. Otherwise, I would have grated the rind of one lemon.)
4 Bosc pears, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup caramel ice cream topping*
1 tsp. cinnamon
*I used Smuckers caramel flavored ice cream topping; it I had the time, I would have made my own from a recipe like this.
Mix all filling ingredients and set aside
Dough for crust
3 Tbsp. sweet butter
Water or water/egg white wash
1 to 1 tsp. sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
On a floured board or marble slab, roll out dough into a large circle. Two options: Make the circle large enough to fit your pie plate plus 1 to 2 additional inches, or place large round on a Silpat map in a jellyroll pan or on a cookie sheet. The edges of the dough do not need to be even. (I used a pie plate). Pile filling into the center of the dough and fold the dough over the filling as far is it goes, crimping, pleating or pinching as necessary. Dot filling with butter. Brush dough with water or wash, and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until crust begins to brown. Serve warm if possible, with whipped cream, ice cream or frozen yogurt if you wish.