Pastry Chef Dolester Miles shares recipes, tips, and techniques.
By Jan Walsh
Pastry Chef Dolester Miles has been one busy lady since she was named, Outstanding Pastry Chef, 2018 by James Beard Foundation Awards. But she took time to share her pastry kitchen with me today, making strawberry crostata.
And we have as my special guests, Kate Hartman and Rima Hartman, who were the winners of this “Behind The Scenes” experience auction lot from the Birmingham chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier’s annual fund raiser, Southern Soirée. The winning bid was actually made by their mother-in-law, Carolyn Hartman—who would not give up until she won. And she bought it for and gave it to Kate and Rima for their Christmas gifts.
To get ahead of the savory team’s shift, Miles and her team arrive each day at Bottega at 5:30 a.m. and begin rolling dough. We arrive at 7:00 a.m., and the kitchen already smells like sweet heaven.
And Kate and Rima are like kids in a candy store, with eyes wide open and appetites whet from the aromatics, as they watch Dol and her pastry team, roll, bake, and decorate desserts in Bottega Restaurant’s kitchen. Yet Dol quickly makes them feel at home by showing them where to wash hands, before handing each lady an apron and a knife. And they learn by doing as they begin to cut strawberries for the crostata.
Dol has no recipe for today’s strawberry crostata, so she makes one up for me (because I requested it for this article) as she goes along, writing it in pencil by hand on paper alongside the bowl of flour. This is a common behind the scenes reality of chefs who agree to do a demo. They work in the kitchen not at a computer on a Word document. I typically type up recipes for chefs when needed.
Bottega's Strawberry Crostata Recipe:
Strawberry Filling Ingredients:
4 Cups Strawberries
1/3 Cup sugar, depending on how sweet the strawberries are
2 Tablespoons Strawberry Jam
3 Tablespoons Cornstarch
1 Teaspoon Lemon Juice
Strawberry Filling Procedure:
Slice strawberries. Place in bowl. Fold in sugar, jam, cornstarch, and lemon juice.
Crostata Dough Ingredients:
1 Cup Flour
2 Teaspoons Sugar
½ Teaspoon Salt
6 Tablespoons Butter
3-4 Tablespoons Ice Water
Crostata Dough Procedure:
Combine flour, sugar, salt, and pulse once in food processor. Add butter and pulse two to three times until butter is pea sized. Add three tablespoons of water until dough begins to come together. If too dry add the other tablespoon of water. Gather dough into a disk. Wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of 30 minutes. Will hold for weeks in freezer. Roll the dish of dough into a ¼ inch thickness with rolling pin. Place on a sheet tray with parchment paper. Add strawberries to center. Gather and fold the crust over strawberries. Brush with egg wash. Sprinkle with raw sugar. Bake at 375 degrees for 50 to 55 minutes until golden brown.
The strawberry crostata will debut in April on the dessert menu at Bottega Café. And I will be back to enjoy and share a picture of it served with ice cream at my favorite window table. While Dol bakes the crostata, she demos icing her famous coconut pecan cake, which she has been making for 12 years. I have often wondered how she unmolds this towering cake from its deep pan. Voilà! A blow torch and running a spatula inside the pan does the trick.
View Dolester Miles Coconut Pecan Cake Recipe
View Dol's tips and techniques in videos... plus what happens when I have fan turned off causing her to lose electricity to food processor. Yikes!