Posted in Uncategorized

Baking questions

So WordPress tells me what people searched for when they found my blog, and sometimes they search for whole questions.  I thought I’d give my answers to those in case anyone else has been wondering.

  1. How to save brownies that are too dry: there’s a long and honored tradition of soaking dry cake in tasty liquids like espresso and various kinds of alcohol.  I don’t see why it wouldn’t work on brownies.
  2. Why to roll a swiss roll while it’s still warm: otherwise it might crack, because it’s less flexible when cool.
  3. Can salted butter be used in a Swiss buttercream recipe: I hope you found my post saying NO, NO, A THOUSAND TIMES NO.  It will be overwhelmingly salty, and I say this from experience.  You can get away with salted butter in almost everything else, though.
  4. Add gelatin to ice cream for cake?: Not a bad idea.  Gelatin not only makes ice cream feel creamier, it also helps it keep its shape as it warms up instead of melting into a puddle.  This is a good feature for an ice cream cake.
Posted in baking, custard

Daring Baker Challenge: Crostata alla ricotta e al cioccolato (Cannoli Pie)

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.

ricotta crostata
Crostata with a canal in the background. You might as well be in Italy, right?

Maybe two months ago, I ate a chocolate-dipped cannoli and thought to myself, the filling is divine, the chocolate is delicious, and the shell is…meh.  So I made a mental note to find something else to put cannoli filling into.

Then I saw the Daring Baker challenge to make a crostata.  We could fill the pasta frolla (a sweetened tart dough) with anything – jam, pastry cream, fresh fruit.  I thought of my mental note and wanted to fill it with sweetened ricotta (that’s all cannoli filling is), but I was afraid it would be too much to eat a pie filled with just that.  Then I thought a layer of chocolate in the bottom would help break things up, and be even more like my favorite kind of cannoli.  I searched around and found that ricotta pies actually do exist.  They usually have eggs in them, making the pie a sort of custard.

Pasta Frolla (tart dough) recipe here – I used the first one.  I had to measure by volume because I was at home-home instead of in my apartment at school, where I have my scale.  I dipped the cup into the flour instead of pouring the flour into the cup, and I think that was the wrong choice for this recipe.  It was too dry and I had to add some water.  Then it was too wet to roll out, so I just patted it into a pie dish.  That worked fine, but you’re better off weighing or pouring your flour.  I didn’t blind bake the crust.

Chocolate layer: I just poured a single layer of mini semisweet chocolate chips on top of the pasta frolla before filling it with the ricotta mixture.

Ricotta filling: I based my recipe very loosely on this one from alfemminile (in Italian).  Here’s what I did: Mix 1 15-oz package of ricotta, 1 cup/100g of sugar, and 2 eggs.  Pour into the crust.

Bake: It took mine 35 minutes at 350F.  This was in my home-home oven, which is not as overzealous as my school-home oven, so that number might actually work for you, too.  In fact, it wouldn’t be a horrible idea to cook it longer at a lower temperature, it being a custard and all.  A water bath for the pie pan would also help.  Mine could’ve come out smoother, I’m sure.


a slice
If I do say so myself, the layer of chocolate on the bottom was a pretty good idea.