Pasta frolla is Italy’s take on sweet shortcrust dough, with a tender, crumbly texture that’s closer to a sandy cookie or shortbread than the flaky crusts of American-style fruit pies or French pâte brisée. It’s a breeze to prepare in the food processor and makes a superlative pedestal for baked summer stonefruit or berries. Try it as the base for a free-form, rustic crostata of sliced peaches, or the simple cherry tart I showed you good people a few months back. After a go or two or three with other recipes for pasta frolla, I’m forever sticking with Gina DePalma’s version, with its sweet, rich flavor and hint of citrus.
After I lined my tart shell, I rolled the scraps out and baked them into little jam tarts (pressing cutouts into mini muffin tins) with some marmalade and preserves I scrounged up from my fridge. DePalma notes you can save the scraps from two batches to roll out a third tart shell, another thrifty application. And pasta frolla freezes very well, up to two months, so you can have a batch on hand whenever you’re struck with the fancy to bake.
Pasta Frolla (Italian Sweet Tart Dough)
adapted from Gina DePalma’s Dolce Italiano, 2007; makes one 10″ tart shell
- 2 1/3 C all-purpose flour
- 1/3 C granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- zest from one lemon or one small orange
- 3/4 C (6 oz) unsalted butter, very cold and cut into 1/4″ dice
- 1 large egg
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 C heavy cream
In the bowl of a food processor, add the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and zest. Pulse a few times to combine. Add the cold, cubed butter and process until the mixture is sandy, with no visible lumps or chunks of butter.
In a small bowl, whisk the egg, yolk, vanilla extract and heavy cream. Add the wet ingredients to the processor and pulse 3-4 times, or until the dough comes together.
Remove the dough from the processor and gently smush together with your hands to even out any dry and wet spots. Pat the dough into a ball, lightly flatten into a disk, and wrap in plastic. Chill for 1-2 hours or freeze until needed, up to 2 months.
When ready to use, roll out on a lightly floured worksurface into an 11″ circle, about 1/8″ thick. Transfer to a fluted tart pan, lightly pressing into the bottom and sides. Trim flush with the top of the pan by rolling your pin over the top of the tart pan. Chill the tart shell in the fridge until needed; proceed with your recipe.
Note: If you don’t have a food processor, you can also make the dough by hand as shown here.