Rhubarb Crostata with Jasmine Whipped Cream
Dawn Casale started One Girl Cookies, one of my favorite Brooklyn bakeries, from a simple idea: cookies could be presented as beautifully as chocolates, instead of just tossed in a tin. Ten years later, the concept has grown from one girl churning out cookies in a tiny West Village apartment to a staff of 16 in a thriving Brooklyn storefront.
I met Dawn a few months back at a delightful Sunday Suppers brunch, and had the pleasure of shooting her in her beautiful Brooklyn kitchen as she prepared a rhubarb crostata with jasmine whipped cream for The Kitchn (full post here). Everything about it was great – the sunlit space, the story, the easygoing approach to food and the fantastic recipe.
Dawn’s story has a fairytale quality to it. After several enjoyable years in high-end retail, she decided to make a career of cooking, a talent nourished in her food-loving Sicilian family. But she knew the intense restaurant life wasn’t for her, so she opted for sweet over savory. Quitting her job at Barney’s, Dawn started baking cookies out of her apartment, relying mainly on word-of-mouth for sales.
Then came the big break: a mention and a photo in Vogue. Dawn hurried to the newsstand every day, but the story never ran. She was crushed, until the feature’s photographer happened to mention her cookies to Giorgio DeLuca, founder of Dean & Deluca. With a national distributor, sales went through the roof, and Dawn’s roommate came home daily to mountains of baking trays and boxes of cookies stashed under his bed.
In search of more help (and a new roommate), Dawn met Dave, a baker finishing up pastry school who happened to live down the block. Hitting it off in the kitchen, they decided to work rather than live together, and quickly became an excellent baking team. They rented a commercial kitchen and started catering events with sweet favors and dessert bars, working 17-hour days to meet holiday demand. Then one Christmas, as they were bundling up for the cold at the end of a long shift, Dave dropped a bomb: new pastry degree in hand, he was leaving to open Otto with Mario Batali.
Three weeks later he was back – this time for good. In 2005, the Dawn and Dave celebrated the opening of their Brooklyn storefront and their own wedding. Now Dawn minds Nate (now 1) and the business side of things while Dave runs the One Girl Cookies kitchen, just a few blocks away from the apartment. When he’s not churning out cookies or teaching baking classes, Dave is whipping up homemade scones, biscuits and yogurt every morning at the store for lucky brunch guests.
Dawn’s trademark style suffuses their Brooklyn kitchen, an airy space with tasteful touches like vintage flower bottles and a chalk board shopping list. A host of frequent dinner parties, Dawn says she makes food that “makes people happy,” and her rhubarb crostata with jasmine whipped cream lived up to that promise.
A crostata is a low-fuss version of pie, perfect for non-bakers like me (Dawn herself admits to being more of a cook than a baker, shhh, don’t tell!) If the dough tears, you just patch it back up, and fold it over in a raggedy, rustic crust that holds in the bubbling fruit. The crostata was flaky and perfectly tart, with just enough orange and an inspired dollop of jasmine whipped cream, which softened out the tanginess. Hot out of the oven, it was utterly delicious.
Rhubarb Crostata with Jasmine Whipped Cream
Crostatas are one of my favorite desserts because they are easy, rustic and great in a pinch when you don’t have a tart pan handy. Traditionally, rhubarb plays a supporting role to strawberries. I think it is so great, it should have the opportunity to stand alone. The orange is a perfect compliment, as is the jasmine whipped cream. ~ Dawn
1/2 c (1 stick) chilled, unsalted butter
3 tbsp ice water
1 lg egg yolk
1 1/2 c all purpose flour
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
Cut butter into 1/2″ cubes & keep cold. Mix the ice water and yolk to blend. Set aside. In a large bowl, mix flour, sugar & salt. Add chilled butter and mix it into dry ingredients using your fingertips. Add the yolk mixture gradually until the crust has a crumbly, crumb like texture. Turn out onto work surface. Shape into disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least one hour. In the meantime, prepare the filling.
5c (about 5 medium stalks) rhubarb, diced into 1″ cubes
zest of 1/2 an orange
1 c sugar
1/3 c cornstarch
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
approx 3 tbsp fresh squeezed orange juice
small handful of flour for work surface
2 tbsp cream
1/4 c turbino sugar
Jasmine Whipped Cream (recipe follows)
Combine rhubarb & zest in large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, mix dry ingredients. Add dry to rhubarb mixture and mix. Add orange juice and mix well. The dry ingredients should be slightly wet. If they are still very dry, add more juice, 1 tbsp at a time, mixing after each addition. Set aside.
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper. Remove the dough from refrigerator and let rest on counter for about 20 minutes. Sprinkle a small handful of flour on the work surface, unwrap the dough and place on flour. Using a rolling pin, pound the dough to flatten slightly. Start rolling the disk out, starting at the center, rotating the disk so that your pin is always straight (this will prevent the dough from sticking to the work surface). Be sure to reshape the dough into a circle whenever necessary and to repair any cracks. Once the dough is about 1/2″ thick, roll it onto the rolling pin and transfer it to the prepared sheet.
Mix the rhubarb filling once again. It should be quite moist at this point. Pile the filling in the center of the dough and spread out, leaving a 2″ border. Fold the sides of the crostata up over the filling. Repair any small tears. Mix the yolk & cream and brush it into the crostata crust (not the filling) using a pastry brush. Sprinkle the turbino sugar on top of the wash.
Bake for about 45 min or until the filling is bubbling and the crust is golden. Serve with jasmine whipped cream.
Jasmine Whipped Cream:
I like this cream slightly sweetened in order to offset the tartness of the rhubarb.
2 c heavy cream
1 tbsp jasmine tea leaves
3 tbsp confectioner’s sugar
Combine the cream and tea in an airtight container or jar and refrigerate overnight. Strain the tea from the cream and place in a mixing bowl along with confectioner’s sugar. Discard the tea leaves. Beat the cream at a high speed until soft peaks form.