978-1-60774-106-0 / 9781607741060

The Italian Baker, Revised: The Classic Tastes of the Italian Countryside--Its Breads, Pizza, Focaccia, Cakes, Pastries, and Cookies


Publisher:Ten Speed Press



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Sample Recipe from The Italian Baker, Revised: Torta di Pere Pear Tart

Makes one 8 1/2-inch tart; 8 servings

Dough 1 stick plus 2 1/2 tablespoons (5.3 oz / 150 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature (cold if using a food processor) 3/4 cup (5.3 oz / 150 g) sugar 3 large egg yolks About 1 1/2 cups minus one tablespoon (7 oz / 200 g) all-purpose flour 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon (3.5 oz / 100 g) fine yellow cornmeal, preferably organic 1 teaspoon (0.2 oz / 5 g) salt

By Hand Cream the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl with a wooden spoon until well blended. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition. Sift the flour, cornmeal, and salt over the mixture and stir just until the dough comes together. Knead lightly on a floured surface until the dough is no longer sticky.

By Mixer Cream the butter and sugar with the paddle until well blended, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition. Sift in the flour, cornmeal, and salt, and mix at low speed; continue mixing until the dough comes together. Knead lightly on a floured surface until the dough is no longer sticky.

By Processor Place the flour, cornmeal, salt, and sugar in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Cut the cold butter into small pieces and scatter over the flour. Process with three or four pulses until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Beat the egg yolks lightly. With the machine running, pour the egg yolks in a steady stream through the feed tube and process just until the dough comes together. You may need to add a little ice-cold water. Stop the machine as soon as the dough masses on top of the blade. Overprocessing will make a tough dough.

Chilling. Gather the dough into a ball, wrap it with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 20 minutes to 1 hour.

Filling 2 cups (1 lb / 450 g) full-bodied red wine; a Barolo or cabernet sauvignon would be perfect 1/4 cup (1.8 oz / 50 g) sugar 3 whole cloves 3 thin strips lemon zest 3/4 to 1 teaspoon (0.06 to 0.1 oz / 2 to 2.5 g) ground cinnamon Cornmeal or finely ground cookie or cake crumbs, for sprinkling (optional) 3 large peeled cooking pears (2 lb / 900 g, weighed after peeling), cut into fat slices and then cut crosswise in half 1 large egg, beaten, for the egg wash

Heat the wine, sugar, cloves, lemon zest, and cinnamon to a boil in a nonreactive saucepan. Gently boil until reduced to 1 1/2 cups, about 15 minutes. Stir in the pears and cook over medium heat until tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Strain the pears; discard the cloves, lemon peel, and cooking liquid. Cool to room temperature.

Shaping. Cut the dough in half and return half to the refrigerator. This is a very delicate dough. Lightly sprinkle flour on your work surface and then lay one or two pieces of plastic wrap on it. Put the dough on the plastic wrap and cover it with a second layer of plastic wrap. This protects the dough as you roll it with your rolling pin into a circle 1/4 inch thick. Butter ?an 8 1/2-inch tart pan very thoroughly. Remove the top layer of plastic, gently lift the dough up by the bottom piece of plastic wrap, and then carefully invert it into the prepared pan before removing the remaining plastic wrap. Trim the edge. Build up the edge of the bottom pastry with the trimmings rolled into one or two coils and flattened onto the edge, so that the edge is substantial enough for the top pastry to be attached.

Filling and Top Crust. I sometimes sprinkle a very little cornmeal or cookie or cake crumbs on the bottom of the tart shell to soak up the juices from the pears. Spoon the drained pears into the tart shell. Again using plastic wrap, roll out the remaining dough into a 1/4-inch-thick circle and place over the pan. Trim the overhanging dough, press the two edges together, and crimp decoratively. Lightly brush the pastry with the beaten egg.

Baking. Preheat the oven to 375F. Bake until golden, 40 minutes. Cool on a rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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