Sunday, November 28, 2010

Mincemeat Tart with Pecan Cornmeal Crust

When I was little my parents occasionally went to the hospital cafeteria for lunch - when nobody was in the hospital! I found it a bit odd, especially when my Dad said he enjoyed the mincemeat pie. I never could get over it's name to try it, but recently on vacation I caught Alton Brown making mincemeat hand pies. Ok they were really "mincefruit" pies - no meat to be had, but even without meat (and probably with it too) I knew my boys would like a dried fruit laden dessert.

I've been playing with pie crusts, so this month's Daring Baker's challenge once again fit in with my interests (if they pick anything with laminated dough next week this is going to be downright eery).

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.

This crust is very similar to a typical tart dough, like that used in the Cranberry Cream Tart with Chocolate Crust. It isn't so much flakey dough, as a tender dough that is a breeze to work with. I chose to mix it up a bit to make a pecan and cornmeal crust. For my main flour I actually used gluten-free oat flour, as I thought that would work well with the dried fruit.

Gluten Free Pecan Cornmeal Pasta Frolla

  • A scant 3/4 cup [180ml, 90g, 3 oz] of powdered sugar
  • 60 grams ground pecans
  • 60 grams gluten free oat flour
  • 60 grams cornstarch
  • 30 grams cornmeal
  • 30 grams sweet rice flour
  • 15 grams potato starch
  • 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
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten in a small bowl
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.

Making pasta frolla with a food processor:

  1. Put sugar, flour, salt, and lemon zest in the food processor and pulse a few times to mix.
  2. Add butter and pulse a few times, until the mixture has the consistency of coarse meal.
  3. Empty food processor's bowl onto your work surface
  4. See step 3 above and continue as explained in the following steps (minus the lemon zest, which you have already added).


Mincemeat Filling
Adapted heavily from Alton Brown 
  • 2 large Granny Smith Apples, peeled, cored and quartered
  • 6 ounces raisins
  • 6 ounces dark brown sugar
  • 4 ounces dried figs, coarsely chopped
  • 2 ounces dried cherries
  • 2 ounces dried unsweetened pineapple
  • 2 ounces cold butter
  • 1-ounce crystallized ginger, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup apple juice
  • 2 t vanilla extract
  • 1 orange, zested and juiced
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground clove
Place all of the ingredients into a food processor and pulse until it is the consistency you wish. Place in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator.

To bake pie

  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 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. Use the prepared strips or rolls of dough to make a lattice over the surface, or decorate with the cut shapes
  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.
  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.


  1. I love how you altered the flours to suit the filling that is very inventive and the final crostata look stunning well done. Yes mincemeat pies don't have meat that is odd.

    Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

  2. That must have been a good hospital mince meat pie! I love how you have adapted this recipe..This recipe I would enjoy!

  3. I like your choice of filling and the very nice decoration on the top.