Friday, July 12, 2013

Pie #3: Cream Cheese and Strawberry Rhubarb Crostada

You know, I'm not entirely sure I put strawberries in this. Why do I think I'll remember these things without writing them down? I remember having trouble with my oven heat as there is a clear visual reminder of that. If I'd stayed with that oven, I suppose I would have had to start tin-foiling the edges of my pastry crusts, but now that we're moving I'll have a new oven with new quirks all of its own to learn. It does look like there are strawberries in there, doesn't it? And I seem to remember thinking that I would have preferred the tart had I left them out. But I have no memory of what stage I put them in.

During the packing J and I and a couple of empty boxes that we were collecting from my work got wet in a cloud burst that we unknowingly could have waited just ten minutes to avoid. When we got home and left our boxes-cum-umbrellas to dry, we were greeted with this rainbow that we took to be a good omen for our move. I'm sure everyone in the city took it to be a personal omen. If you squint at this photo, you might be able to see some double rainbow action. Also, doesn't the campus look pretty? Summer comes pretty late here, but then it lingers into September and October in a way that I always think is great PR for the new students.

You may remember this view from my one of my earliest posts
I realized at about 24 that I liked rhubarb after a lifetime of arbitrarily avoiding it due to a vague memory of touching the plant and then licking bitter fingers. A roommate's girlfriend (who I would have liked more if she hadn't wanted us to bleach the shower curtain via hand-scrubbing on the porch every week) made a rhubarb crumble and it was awesome. So now every summer when I see rhubarb I want to make something with it. The crostada challenge seemed like a good chance.

J particularly commented that he liked the crust. I particularly thought that the whole thing would have been better if I'd done away with the pastry and multiplied the cheesecake layer by an entire cheesecake. But I have a cheesecake bias. Nonetheless, it was very good. As you will see below, my attempted lattice totally sucked was very rustic. The main problem, lattice-wise, was that I didn't have enough dough, likely because I'd eaten too many uncooked bits of dough ahead of time. I had to check that it was chilling properly, after all. You know if you're likely to have this problem. You've been warned. 

Highly symmetrical.
Pastry Frolla Recipe
from pizzarosa

2/3 cup (150g) butter
1/3 cup (75g) sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
zest of one lemon
1 2/3 cups (225g) AP flour
pinch of salt

Cream the butter, sugar and salt well. Mix in the egg, vanilla and zest. Add flour and mix until the dough just comes together. Form into discs and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for an hour or so. Let it rest on your counter to warm up a bit and then roll it out and press it into a greased 9" tart pan. Prick the bottom all over with a fork or something, and then chill it for another 30 minutes before blind baking it at 350F for 15 minutes until set. I blind bake by covering my pastry in parchment paper and then filling it with dried beans which I re-use constantly for this purpose. After baking, remove your beans and allow it to cool completely.

Once it's cool, you can add fillings, roll out your lattice from what's left uneaten of your dough, and bake again at 400F for about 20 minutes until the lattice is golden.


The cream cheese filling was about 4 oz of cream cheese, 1/4 cup sugar, lemon zest, and an egg yolk. Just beat it all together.

For the rhubarb, I chopped up about a pound of rhubarb and dumped it in a pot, mixed in about 1/4 cup of sugar, and heated it on medium-low for about 20 minutes until the rhubarb was broken down and thick. I think I then added chopped strawberries, but I don't really remember. Then I let it cool before layering it into my tart shell.

Baking is supposed to be a science? I don't do science like this. Or, thinking back on some particularly hacked together apparatus, perhaps I do. I think the trick is knowing when it matters.

"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!"

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