Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Beet Relish

I had gotten a lot of extra beets before Christmas thinking I would use them at one of our various meals.  A week later and I still haven't used them so I thought I would try making some relish.  My canning skills aren't the best and most of the time I don't know what to do with the product once it's made, so I wasn't completely sure I wanted to make the relish.  But I decided it was better to make the relish than just throw the beets away in a couple of weeks.  This was a very easy recipe without a lot of room for error, unlike jams or jellies which I find very easy to mess up.  The relish is simply beets, onion and pepper cooked in vinegar and horseradish.  The recipe called for fresh horseradish,  I didn't have any and didn't feel like going to the store, so I used jarred and it was still very yummy.  I am very happy with the finished product, it has a nice bite and a slight tang, but the sweetness of the beets is still evident.  Now I just need to figure out how to use and serve the relish.  Serve it as a side?  Add it to a dish?  I just don't know, any suggestions?
Beet Relish with Horseradish (from Complete Book of Small Batch Preserving)
5 medium Beets (about 1 lb)
1 large Onion, finely chopped
2 Sweet Red Peppers, finely chopped
1 c. White Vinegar
1/2 c. Granulated Sugar
1 tsp. Pickling Salt
2/3 c. Grated Fresh Horseradish (or 1 1/4 c. prepared/jarred horseradish)

Cook beets in boiling water until tender, about 20 minutes.  Drain beets, remove skins and chop finely, there should be about 2 cups.  Combine beets with onion and peppers.  In a large stainless steel or enamel saucepan combine vinegar, sugar, salt and horseradish.  Bring to boil over high heat.  Add vegetables, return to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Ladle relish into hot jars within 1/2 inch of rim.  Add lids and screw tops. Process 1/2 pint jars for 15 minutes, process pint jars for 20 minutes.

When you are done and are looking for something to do with your kids, or if you just want to play,  use the beet juice to do some natural tie-dying.  Save water you boiled the beets in, gather up some scraps of fabric or old white shirts and have fun! I haven't done this with the three monkeys yet, but am hoping to do it later in the week and then use the fabric as decorative toppings for the jars - hmmm, I think I need to keep this in mind next year when I am struggling to come up with Christmas gifts.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Eve

We usually do our big dinner on Christmas eve, but this year we had a lot to do on the 24th - like take two sleeping children out of their room, disassemble their bed/crib and assemble new bunk beds - so we switched things around and did the big meal on Christmas day.  For Christmas eve we basically did sandwiches and salad.  I made up a batch of pizza dough and for the adults I did reubens and for the kids I did wrapped hot dogs.  It was far from fancy and a dinner that I would do on any hurried night, yet it tasted absolutely delicious.  There really is a lot to be said for the company and atmosphere in which you enjoy your food. It was nice having Christmas eve so relaxed, and I think we might switch our traditions up for the next few years, at least until the kids are a little bigger and while Santa still has a lot of work to do on Christmas eve.
Hot Dog Wrap

I didn't get a picture of any of our meals from Christmas eve or Christmas day, I don't know what happened, but this is the Ruben recipe.  It is based on a recipe my Dad has been using for about 25 years, I think it came from Gourmet, and it is one of my favorite Fall/Winter dishes.

Wrapped Reuben Sandwich
1 recipe Pizza Dough
1 lb Corned Beef, thinly sliced
1/2 lb Swiss Cheese, thinly sliced
1 cup Sauekraut
1/4 cup Thousand Island Dressing
Egg Wash

Roll out pizza dough into a large rectangle, about 9x12, place on large baking sheet.  Spread dressing on dough, leaving a 1" boarder on all sides.  Layer corned beef and swiss cheese on top of dressing, top with sauerkraut.  Along each long side make 1" cuts about every 1/2".  Working on alternate sides bring up the dough, enclosing the filling.   Brush egg wash over entire sandwich.
Bake at 375 until dough is golden brown and baked through.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Daring Baker's - Stollen

The 2010 December Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Penny of Sweet Sadie's Baking.  She chose to challenge Daring Bakers' to make Stollen.  She adapted a friend's family recipe and combined it with information from friends, techniques from Peter Reinhart's book.....and Martha Stewart's demonstration. This was my first time making Stollen and it was a wonderful addition to our Christmas menu and it will definitely be a permanent addition for my holiday baking.  I am already thinking about making them as gifts.  Too much work?  Maybe, but definitely worth it.  Since we have had so much food around this past week we only ate about 1/4 of it, but I put it in the freezer and am looking forward to New Year's Day when it will be used in french toast.  This recipe did not use marzipan, but after reading other reviews I think I will try it again with the addition of some marzipan.  The recipe went together very easy and the end result was beautiful and delicious.    It bakes up to a wonderful mahogany color and the aroma filled the house. It was wonderfully flavored, not to sweet and not to dry.  It is perfect in the morning with a cup of coffee or in the afternoon with a cup of tea, just a wonderful treat to have on hand.  If you haven't made Stollen before I recommend giving this recipe a try, it is wonderful!

Stollen Wreath

Makes one large wreath or two traditional shaped Stollen loaves. Serves 10-12 people


¼ cup (60ml) lukewarm water (110º F / 43º C)
2 packages (4 1/2 teaspoons) (22 ml) (14 grams) (1/2 oz) active dry yeast
1 cup (240 ml) milk
10 tablespoons (150 ml) (140 grams) unsalted butter (can use salted butter)
5½ cups (1320 ml) (27 ozs) (770 grams) all-purpose (plain) flour (Measure flour first - then sift- plus extra for dusting)
½ cup (120 ml) (115 gms) sugar
¾ teaspoon (3 ¾ ml) (4 ½ grams) salt (if using salted butter there is no need to alter this salt measurement)
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (6 grams) cinnamon
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
Grated zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange
2 teaspoons (10 ml) (very good) vanilla extract
1 teaspoon (5 ml) lemon extract or orange extract
¾ cup (180 ml) (4 ¾ ozs) (135 grams) mixed peel (link below to make your own)
1 cup (240 ml) (6 ozs) (170 gms) firmly packed raisins
3 tablespoons (45ml) rum
12 red glacé cherries (roughly chopped) for the color and the taste. (optional)
1 cup (240 ml) (3 ½ ozs) (100 grams) flaked almonds
Melted unsalted butter for coating the wreath
Confectioners’ (icing) (powdered) sugar for dusting wreath
Note: If you don’t want to use alcohol, double the lemon or orange extract or you could use the juice from the zested orange.


Soak the raisins
In a small bowl, soak the raisins in the rum (or in the orange juice from the zested orange) and set aside. See Note under raisins.
Pour ¼ cup (60 ml) warm water into a small bowl, sprinkle with yeast and let stand 5 minutes. Stir to dissolve yeast completely.
In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup (240 ml) milk and 10 tablespoons (150 ml) butter over medium - low heat until butter is melted. Let stand until lukewarm, about 5 minutes.
Lightly beat eggs in a small bowl and add lemon and vanilla extracts.
In a large mixing bowl (4 qt) (4 liters) (or in the bowl of an electric mixer with paddle attachment), stir together the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, orange and lemon zests.
Then stir in (or mix on low speed with the paddle attachment) the yeast/water mixture, eggs and the lukewarm milk/butter mixture. This should take about 2 minutes. It should be a soft, but not sticky ball. When the dough comes together, cover the bowl with either plastic or a tea cloth and let rest for 10 minutes.
Add in the mixed peel, soaked fruit and almonds and mix with your hands or on low speed to incorporate. Here is where you can add the cherries if you would like. Be delicate with the cherries or all your dough will turn red!
Sprinkle flour on the counter, transfer the dough to the counter, and begin kneading (or mixing with the dough hook) to distribute the fruit evenly, adding additional flour if needed. The dough should be soft and satiny, tacky but not sticky. Knead for approximately 8 minutes (6 minutes by machine). The full six minutes of kneading is needed to distribute the dried fruit and other ingredients and to make the dough have a reasonable bread-dough consistency. You can tell when the dough is kneaded enough – a few raisins will start to fall off the dough onto the counter because at the beginning of the kneading process the dough is very sticky and the raisins will be held into the dough but when the dough is done it is tacky which isn't enough to bind the outside raisins onto the dough ball.
Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling around to coat it with the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
Put it in the fridge overnight. The dough becomes very firm in the fridge (since the butter goes firm) but it does rise slowly… the raw dough can be kept in the refrigerator up to a week and then baked on the day you want.
Shaping the Dough and Baking the Wreath
1. Let the dough rest for 2 hours after taking out of the fridge in order to warm slightly.
2. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
3. Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4 with the oven rack on the middle shelf.
4. Punch dough down, roll into a rectangle about 16 x 24 inches (40 x 61 cms) and ¼ inch (6 mm) thick.
Starting with a long side, roll up tightly, forming a long, thin cylinder.
Transfer the cylinder roll to the sheet pan. Join the ends together, trying to overlap the layers to make the seam stronger and pinch with your fingers to make it stick, forming a large circle. You can form it around a bowl to keep the shape.
Using kitchen scissors, make cuts along outside of circle, in 2-inch (5 cm) intervals, cutting 2/3 of the way through the dough.
Twist each segment outward, forming a wreath shape. Mist the dough with spray oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap.
Proof for approximately 2 hours at room temperature, or until about 1½ times its original size.
Bake the stollen for 20 minutes, then rotate the pan 180 degrees for even baking and continue to bake for 20 to 30 minutes. The bread will bake to a dark mahogany color, should register 190°F/88°C in the center of the loaf, and should sound hollow when thumped on the bottom.
Transfer to a cooling rack and brush the top with melted butter while still hot.
Immediately tap a layer of powdered sugar over the top through a sieve or sifter.
Wait for 1 minute, then tap another layer over the first.
The bread should be coated generously with the powdered sugar.
Let cool at least an hour before serving. Coat the stollen in butter and icing sugar three times, since this many coatings helps keeps the stollen fresh - especially if you intend on sending it in the mail as Christmas presents!
When completely cool, store in a plastic bag. Or leave it out uncovered overnight to dry out slightly, German style.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Gift Boxes

This year I really struggled with what to do for teacher/neighbor gifts.  I like to come up with something that the kids can help with and that everybody in the family can contribute to.  I also like to give something that can last and be enjoyed past Christmas.  I feel like people get so many yummy homemade treats this time of year that sometimes they go to waste.
 Last year I did hot cocoa mix and homemade marshmallows and I was really happy with the results.  The kids decorated mugs for their teachers, grandparents got mugs with the kids picture and neighbors got holiday mugs.  I made the marshmallows and everyone helped dip them in chocolate.  The gifts were really well received and many people told us they enjoyed having the cocoa when we were up to our knees in snow during the big February storm.  
But, this year I really struggled coming up with something.  I wanted something that could be done in bulk, but still looked individual.  Wasn't too time consuming, but looked as if it was.  I came up with chocolate and maple fudge, peanut brittle and peppermint cookie pops.  There wasn't a lot of contribution from the kids which I was disappointed about.  They didn't feel much ownership or pride in the gifts, which was obvious when they gave the gifts to their teachers.  I did have them choose one of their salt dough ornaments to include on the gift bag, but it still wasn't enough to instill a lot of pride in the gift.
All recipes were very easy and could be completed in a short amount of time.  My favorite was the maple fudge.  I was lucky enough to have about 3lbs of maple sugar in my pantry (my Dad lives in NY and brings maple products to us on every visit) so this year I decided to try using it to make maple fudge and it was heavenly.  I do the no fail fudge and while I feel like a slight cheater it is a yummy recipe that always works and everyone loves.  The peppermint cookie swirls were a last minute addition, I saw the idea on Paula Deen and they were the perfect topper.    The cookie isn't my favorite, I don't really like peppermint cookies, but they look good.

No Fail Fudge
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar 
2/3 cup (5 fl.-oz. can) NESTLÉ® CARNATION® Evaporated Milk 
2 tablespoons butter or margarine 
1/4 teaspoon salt 
2 cups miniature marshmallows 
1 1/2 cups (9 oz.) NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels 
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional) 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 

Line an 8-inch-square baking pan with foil. Combine sugar, evaporated milk, butter and salt in medium, heavy-duty saucepan. Bring to a full rolling boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil, stirring constantly, for 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat.  Stir in marshmallows, morsels, nuts and vanilla extract. Stir vigorously for 1 minute or until marshmallows are melted. Pour into prepared baking pan; refrigerate for 2 hours or until firm. Lift from pan; remove foil. 

Monday, December 20, 2010

Cranberry Cake

The December cake for the Cake Slice group was a Cranberry Cake, and it was a perfect have around the house type of cake for the holiday season.  I baked it early in the month, for no particular reason except I was craving cake and thought I would give it a try.  The kids thought it was a little tart, they just ate the streusel topping, but my husband and I were big fans and would take little slices every time we walked by the cake.   I really liked the crunchiness of the stresuel topping, plus the top of the cake got a nice sugary crust.  The cake itself is a wonderfully simple recipe and the cranberries can easily be substituted.  Blueberries would be an obvious substitute, chocolate chips would be good.  Even just adding a lemon or orange zest would be nice.  Just thinking about all the possibilities is making me hungry.  I will have to find an excuse to make this again sometime soon in the new year.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Holiday Fun

We hosted a holiday party this weekend.  This is the second year we have hosted this group and of all the get togethers we host during the holidays it is the one that causes me the most stress.  It is also the one that requires the least amount of prep work, so technically it should be the least stressful.  This is a party for the teachers and board members at my kids' preschool and the party is a tradition that has been going on for a few years.  I have only been on the board for two years, and therefore never attended one of the parties before agreeing to host, but I have heard about them and how they are always a great time.  So there is the pressure of the past to live up to.  Then there is the fact that it is a potluck party, and I hate hosting potlucks.  I love going to them, but hate hosting.  The idea of not knowing what will be available to my guests drives me crazy.  I alternate between planning a large assorted menu and a menu with just a box of crackers.  It usually isn't until I am setting up that I finally settle on a menu and by that point I have purchased enough food to host two parties.  Last year we had a lot of spinach and artichoke dip, so I was glad I over prepared and was able to pull out some backup items.  This year we had a better assortment and I didn't need to go to the reserves.  In the end I decided on a simple meat platter (while I hate doing the same thing again and again, when we have a party I almost always do a meat platter.  With a husband who is allergic to pork it is the perfect opportunity for me to indulge in yummy cured meats) and a few desserts. 
 My favorite were the mini gingerbread cupcakes with cream cheese frosting and the Bailey's truffles were pretty good as well.  Both were extremely simple and very well received.  And while I stressed out on the food, I completely spaced on table decor.  I don't know what was wrong with me and how I avoided thinking about the "table scape."  But about an hour before the party I realized I hadn't given it any thought.  I quickly pulled a few things together, but it was a very lame attempt and I was glad when the food started to come in and hide my sad table. 
Gingerbread Cupcakes

2 teaspoons baking soda
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup packed dark-brown sugar
1 cup unsulphered molasses
2 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  In a small saucepan, bring 1 cup water to a boil. In a bowl, combine boiling water and baking soda; set aside. In a large bowl, sift together flour, ground spices, salt, and baking powder; set aside.  In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter until light. Beat in the brown sugar until fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Beat in the molasses, baking-soda mixture, and flour mixture. Beat in the eggs.  Fill the cupcake papers three-quarters full, making sure that the batter is divided evenly. Bake cupcakes until a toothpick inserted in the center of them comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Let cupcakes cool a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before decorating

Bailey's Truffles

2 tablespoons heavy cream
7 ounce white chocolate chopped
2 tablespoons Irish cream liqueur (recommended: Baileys)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts

Place the cream in a heat-proof bowl, and set the bowl over a pan of simmering water. Cook until heated through. Using a wire whisk, slowly stir the white chocolate into the warm cream until completely melted. Whisk in the liqueur and vanilla. Cover and chill for 1 hour or until pliable but firm enough to scoop.  With 2 teaspoons or a 1 1/4-inch ice cream scoop, make dollops of the chocolate mixture and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Refrigerate for about 15 minutes, until firm enough to roll into rough spheres.  Melt the bittersweet chocolate in a heat-proof bowl, set over a pan of simmering water. Drizzle the melted bittersweet chocolate over 10 of the truffles. Roll the remaining truffles in the chopped nuts. Chill until ready to serve

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Gingerbread Village

The baking/cooking has been pretty slow around here recently.  Which is a little odd considering it is the holidays and I should be doing a lot of it, but I have been a little distracted with our gingerbread village.  I have been doing gingerbread houses with my kids since my son was about two. They have always enjoyed it, but the houses were usually a little sad looking with just one or two pieces of candy in one giant puddle of icing,  but this year that they really got into it and were able to help out, so we went a little crazy with the gingerbread.  We started with a village kit and then added our own castle.  Aggie helped out with the dough and Liam helped cut out the pieces.  I did the assembly solo and then let them go at with the decorating.  Liam is now able to use a pastry bag on his own, I finally broke down and got some bag closures from Wilton and they make a big difference.  Aggie still needs help so she told me where she wanted the icing and I piped it for her, which makes the process a little less frustrating.  Nellie is still just into eating the candy, which proved a little frustrating for the other two, but is all part of the process.  
I have always loved making gingerbread houses and always attempted to make them when I was little, but often found the process very frustrating and failed more than I succeed.  But after many trial and errors I finally have a recipe for both the house and the icing that works and makes it much more stress free.   The gingerbread is very easy to work with and as long as the shapes are cut on the baking sheet they keep their shape nicely and don't distorted when bake.  The icing is a basic royal icing and dries very hard, which is good when there are small candy monsters in the house who like to pick away at the house. 

Gingerbread Recipe
1 c. Crisco (shortening)
1 c. Sugar
1 tsp. Baking Powder
1 tsp. Salt
1 c. unsulphered Molasses
1 tsp. Ground Ginger
1 tsp. Cinnamon
5 c. Flour
4 Tbs. Water

Preheat oven 350
Mix the first seven ingredients until well blended.  Add flour and water, mix until dough forms.  Working with small amounts of dough, roll out between two sheets of parchment to 3/8" thickness.  Move dough to baking sheet and cut out desired shape.  Remove unwanted dough.  Bake 10 to 15 minutes depending on size of shape. 

Royal Icing
2 lbs. Confectioner Sugar
4 Tbs. Meringue Powder
10 to 12 Tbs. Warm Water

Mix confectioner sugar and meringue powder together.  Slowly add water until icing forms still peaks.  When working with icing keep covered with damp cloth. 

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Non-Edible Baking

My daughter loves making sugar cookies, or any cookie that she can roll and cut. While it is a great dough to make up in large batches and to always have on hand, there are only so many sugar cookies we can eat and I get a little tired of them after a while.  As a solution to this problem I remembered a favorite craft project of mine from when I was little - salt dough. This is a great dough for kids to make on their own. It contains only three ingredients, all of which are pretty inexpensive, so it is a great recipe for kids to experiment with.  This weekend was our first attempt with it. I had a lot of other things going on and wasn't able to really work with the kids, so I set out all the ingredients and the recipe and put my son in charge. They all loved the freedom of being able to work without me hovering around them. Liam especially loved the power of being in charge, then again he always feels as if he is in charge, but that is a whole other blog. After all the ingredients were added the dough was a little wet, and they had a hard time working with it, but they did get a better consistency by playing around with the flour. My plan was for them to use the Christmas cutters and make ornaments to give as gifts, but as usual they had other plans and the call of The Force was too strong -  nothing says Merry Christmas like Darth Vader hanging on your tree. 

Salt Dough

2 cups Flour
1 cup Salt
1 cup cold Water
Food Coloring (optional)

Directions: In a large bowl, mix table salt and flour together. Gradually add 1/2 cup of water and mix to desired consistency. Knead the dough on a flat surface, adding a few more drops of water as needed (but not making it too moist).
Once the dough is made, divide it up into small portions.  If using food coloring you can add desired color to the small portions.  Using a rolling pin roll into 1/8" thick pieces.  Use cookie cutters to cut out a variety of shapes, and place the shapes on wax paper or other surface to dry. If you want to make hanging ornaments, pierce the dough through with a toothpick while it's wet.
To dry ornaments bake them in the oven at 200 degrees F until hard. Baking times varies depending on oven and dough thickness. Make sure the dough is completely baked. You can cover the dough with aluminum foil if it starts to darken before completely baked through.
Once dry onaments can be decorated using acrylic paints or glitter.  Finish ornaments by sealing on all sides with polyurethane spray or clear varnish to make them lasting gifts or keepsakes

Thursday, December 2, 2010


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.  It was a delicious pastry and I will defintily be using the pasta frolla again.  I did a simple jam crostata and made two smaller tarts.  I didn't have quite enough dough, I probably should have rolled it out a little thinner, and would have liked a little more crust on top.   It was a great mid-morning, afternoon or late evening treat and my family devored both little tarts.
Simona provide two different versions of the pasta frolla, this is the first version which I chose:

Version 1 of pasta frolla

  • 1/2 c. minus 1 tablespoon [105 ml, 100 g, 3 ½ oz] superfine sugar (see Note 1) or a scant 3/4 cup [180ml, 90g, 3 oz] of powdered sugar
  • 1 and 3/4 cup [420 ml, 235 g, 8 1/4 oz.] unbleached all-purpose flour
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 stick [8 tablespoons / 4 oz. / 115 g] cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • grated zest of half a lemon (you could also use vanilla sugar as an option, see Note 2)
  • 1 large egg and 1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten in a small bowl
Note 1: 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.
Note 2: There are different ways of making vanilla sugar. I keep vanilla beans in a jar half-filled with sugar until I need to use them, for example, to make vanilla ice cream. After I remove the split bean from the custard that will go into the ice cream maker, I rinse it, dry it and put it back in the jar with sugar.
Making pasta frolla by hand:
  1. Whisk together sugar, flour and salt in a bowl.
  2. Rub or cut the butter into the flour until the mixture has the consistency of coarse crumbs. You can do this in the bowl or on your work surface, using your fingertips or an implement of choice.
  3. Make a well in the center of the mounded flour and butter mixture and pour the beaten eggs into it (reserve about a teaspoon of the egg mixture for glazing purposes later on – place in the refrigerator, covered, until ready to use).
  4. Add the lemon zest to your flour/butter/egg mixture.
  5. Use a fork to incorporate the liquid into the solid ingredients, and then use your fingertips.
  6. Knead lightly just until the dough comes together into a ball.
  7. Shape the dough into a flat disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Place the dough in the refrigerator and chill for at least two hours. You can refrigerate the dough overnight.
  8. Ideas for Filling for Your Crostata

    Whether you choose to make Version 1 or 2 of the pasta frolla, there are numerous fillings that you can choose from for your crostata. I am suggesting some filling for you here (and including assemblage and baking instructions). But be brave and creative and see what you can come up with! Crostata di Marmellata (crostata with a jam filling using Version 1 pasta frolla) If you choose to make a crostata with a jam filling, you will need:
    • 1 and 3/4 cups [415ml, 600 gm, 21 oz] of jam or fruit preserves, whatever flavor you like (Note: I use my homemade fruit preserves, which have a low sugar content. I recommend you choose a good quality product, made with mostly fruit.)
    Assembling and baking the crostata di marmellata:
    1. Heat the oven to 375ºF [190ºC/gas mark 5].
    2. Take the pasta frolla out of the fridge, unwrap it and cut away ¼ of the dough. Reserve this dough to make the lattice top of the crostata. Refrigerate this dough while you work on the tart base.
    3. To help roll the crostata dough, keep the dough on top of the plastic wrap that you had it wrapped in. This can help rolling the dough and can also help when transferring the dough to your pan. You can also use parchment paper for this. However, you can also roll the dough directly on a work surface if you prefer.
    4. Lightly dust the top of the dough and your work surface (if you’re rolling directly on a work surface) with flour. Keep some flour handy to dust the dough as you go along.
    5. If the dough is very firm, start by pressing the dough with the rolling pin from the middle to each end, moving the rolling pin by a pin's width each time; turn the dough 180 degrees and repeat; when it softens, start rolling.
    6. Roll the dough into a circle about 1/8th inch (3 mm) thick.
    7. If you used the plastic wrap or parchment paper as rolling surface, flip dough over the pan, centering it, and delicately press it all around so the corners are well covered. Peel away the plastic wrap.
    8. Trim the excess dough hanging over the edges of the pan. Press the remaining dough around the border into the sides of the pan making sure the border is an even thickness all the way around.
    9. Prick the bottom of the dough with a fork in several places.
    10. Take out of the fridge the reserved pasta frolla you had cut away earlier. Roll it with your pin and cut into strips or use cookie cutters to make small shapes (this is not traditional, but it looks cute); or roll with your hands into ropes.
    11. Spread the jam or fruit preserves evenly over the bottom of the crostata.
  9. Use the prepared strips or rolls of dough to make a lattice over the surface, or decorate with the cut shapes. (Note: You can use dough scraps to make cookies: see the Additional Information section for some pointers)
  10. Brush the border and strips of dough with the reserved beaten eggs. You can add a drop or two of water to the beaten eggs if you don’t have enough liquid.
  11. Put the tart in the oven and bake for 25 minutes.
  12. After 25 minutes, check the tart and continue baking until the tart is of a nice golden hue. (Note: Every oven is different. In my oven it took 34 minutes to bake the tart until golden.)
  13. When done, remove the tart from the oven and let cool. If you have used a tart pan with a removable bottom, then release the tart base from the fluted tart ring. Make sure the tart is completely cool before slicing and serving.