Pasta Frolla (sweet shortcrust pastry) is an Italian pastry dough, a basic recipe made with flour, butter, eggs, sugar and some flavorings. With pasta frolla you can make tarts, biscuits, mignon and pastry treats of all kinds! After a short processing and resting in the fridge, you can bake it in the oven where it takes on the classic crumbly consistency.
Like any traditional recipe, there are many versions of pasta frolla, depending on local uses but also on the result you want to get. For example some use a little yeast to make pasta frolla a little softer, for tarts with a lot of filling. On the other hand some prefer, for tarts with a veil of jam or for biscuits, the classic pasta frolla recipe without yeast, crispier and more compact.
The recipe that we are going to show you is the most classic and basic one, using the traditional method for kneading the ingredients. You can also flavor short pastry dough with vanilla, lemon zest, liquors or various spices, according to your taste.
Try this pasta frolla recipe: easy-to-make, with a crumbly melting consistency and exquisite flavour, perfect to make terrific Italian desserts.
Pasta Frolla Recipe (Italian Sweet Shortcrust Pastry)
These are the doses to make: about 500 g (1,1 lb) of Pasta Frolla; a tart in a tart pan of about 22 cm ( 9 inch) in diameter; about 30 biscuits.
- 250 g (8,8 oz) of “00” flour
- 100 g (3,5 oz) of caster sugar
- 120 g ( 4,2 0z ) of unsalted cold butter
- 1 whole medium egg at room temperature
- 1 medium egg yolk at room temperature
- zest of 1/2 lemon (optional)
- 1/6 teaspoon of fine salt
How to Make Italian Pasta Frolla Recipe
Step 1) – First place the flour on a pastry board then make a hole in the center. Pour in this order: sugar, lemon zest (optional), salt and eggs at room temperature.
Step 2) – Finally, add the cold butter cut into small pieces. Combine it quickly with your hands. It’s IMPORTANT not to knead with both hands, but only with the fingertips. The heat of your hands can in fact melt the butter too much and alter the final flavor of the pastry. BEFORE KNEADING, here 2 useful TIPS: put your hands under cold-ice water then dry them well; use a marble pastry board. It’s really important not to heat the pastry dough too much!
Step 3) – Mix the ingredients quickly for the shortest possible time, so as not to overheat the dough, until the mixture is compact and elastic. Form a loaf and wrap it in cling film. Let it rest for at least 1 hour in the fridge.
Pasta frolla is ready: you can arrange it on a pastry board sprinkled with a little flour and roll it out with a rolling pin until you get a thickness of about 4 mm (0,5 inch) for a tart and a little more for making cookies.
The Importance of Eggs in Sweet Short Pastry
Italian Pasta Frolla recipe wants eggs. They are a fundamental ingredient for this recipe. The presence of eggs in the mixture make the difference between basic shortcrast pastry and sweet pastry dough. The first is made only with flour, butter, water and a pinch of salt, often used to make savory pies.
It’s very important to balance the quantities between egg whites and yolks in pasta frolla mixture. The yolks give friability, the egg whites compact the dough. In this recipe they are balanced, for a crumbly but at the same time malleable result.
What Type of Flour do You Need for Pasta Frolla?
The best flour for Pasta Frolla is a “weak” flour such as “0” or “00”. When these flours comes in contact with liquids, they produce gluten. The elasticity of the gluten reduces the friability of Pasta Frolla.
For this reason you have to work a little even the “weak” flours, until they absorbe the eggs (and their liquids). Then place immediately the dough in the refrigerator to rest at least 1 hour. For a good friability of Pasta Frolla, it’s essential that the flour does not develop too much gluten. You can buy specific flours for sweet short pastry, but all-purpose flour is fine too. The important thing is not to use a flour for baking (such as Manitoba flour).
About Butter: Cold or at Room Temperature?
For a perfect success of Pasta Folla it’s essential a good quality unsalted butter. The fat inside the dough greases the flour particles and reduces the strength of the gluten. More butter you use in proportion to the flour, more crumbly the dough will be.
It’s also important in the traditional method and in the “Sabbiatura” method, to use very cold butter and work it quickly. On the other hand, in the whipped method, the butter must be very creamy to whip with the sugar (for the types of methods, see the paragraph below).
What type of Sugar for Italian Pasta Frolla?
You can use both granulated sugar and powdered sugar, the doses do not change. If you want a finer looking Pasta Frolla, for example for tea biscuits or an elegant tart with custard, it’s better to use powdered sugar. You can even use brown sugar for a more rustic look.
It’s possible to make Pasta Frolla ahead of time, keeping it in the fridge for 2 or 3 days maximum. Alternatively, you can frooze it and keep it in the freezer for about 3 months. When you want to use it, defrost in the fridge.
Italian Pasta Frolla Recipe: Tips and Variations
- If during the preparation the shortcrust pastry crumbles and doesn’t remain compact, you can remedy by adding two tablespoons of cold water or half an egg white to the dough.
- If you want to make savory pasta frolla, you can use only 15 g (0,50 oz) of sugar and increase the salt dose a little (up to 1/3 of teaspoon so not too much). You will have a savory pastry perfect for quiches and savory pies.
- To make chocolate pie crust/pasta frolla, add 30 g (1 oz) of unsweetened cocoa powder to the flour.
How to Make Pasta Frolla: 3 Methods
In Italian cuisine there are three basic types of sweet shortcrust pastry or it would be better to say that 3 methods are used to make shortcrust pastry: Classic or Traditional – Whipped – Sabbiata or sablée. Let’s see together what they are:
Classic or Traditional
The traditional method is the one used to make this recipe. The butter must be cold and the ingredients must be mixed quickly so as not to heat the dough. See the instructions in the previous paragraphs.
Sabbiatura or Sablée
If you want to get a much more crumbly and less compact pasta frolla, you can follow these directions. With the method of “sabbiatura” you will make a sweet pastry dough that is not compact but, in fact “sandy” (it:sabbia=en:sand). It has a much greater friability than the classic pasta frolla.
Here the important steps:
- The butter must be COLD
- First knead the flour with butter. You will feel the sensation of sand under your fingers, hence the name.
- Combine the other ingredients.
- Use only egg yolks. Instead of 1 whole egg and 1 yolk, use 3 yolks.
- Make the ball, wrap it in cling film and leave it in the fridge to cool for at least 1 hour
Whipped (with a Mixer)
In a planetary mixer whip the butter at room temperature, until it reaches the consistency of a soft cream. Then add the sugar and the eggs. Finally, add the sifted flour. Unlike the other methods, in this the dough will be softer. Even here it’s necessary to cool pasta frolla in the fridge until the shortcrust pastry takes on consistency. This method is perfect when you want to make cakes that have a lot of filling such as Pastiera Napoletana and white chocolate fruit tart.
History of Pasta Frolla
Pasta frolla is a very old Italian recipe. In fact, it seems that a very similar dough was already known in Venice around the year 1000, when sugar cane, imported from Egypt and Syria, began to be used. Probably the first codified recipe dates back to the 14th century, inserted by Taillevent in his manuscript “Le Viandier”. But it was only towards the end of the seventeenth century that pasta frolla recipe began to spread, thanks to the book “Opera di Bartolomeo Scappi, master of culinary art”. In this book Bartolomeo Scappi tackles the theme “pasta frolla” in the fifth chapter, dedicated exclusively to sweet pies, cakes and tarts.