Sweet Shortcrust Pastry – Italian Pasta Frolla

This is the classic recipe for Italian sweet shortcrust pastry dough, called pasta frolla. Use it for tarts, pies, crostata and cookies!

This versatile sweet shortcrust pastry is used in the preparation of many traditional Italian desserts (such as crostata, cookies, pies, tarts, Easter Napolitan pastiera and many more).

There are tons of sweet tart doughs recipes out there, but pasta frolla is by far my favorite, and once you give it a try, I’m sure you’ll love it too.

You may use this as a tart or sweet pie crust recipe and it’s absolutely fail-proof  – It’s incredibly easy to prepare even by novice bakers!

Like British shortcrust pastry or French Pâte sucrée, the basic ingredients include flour and butter, sugar and egg. However, the Italian pastry dough calls for different quantities and includes aromatics, which add so such a beautiful note.

italian sweet shortcrust pastry dough ball.

Below you can find it in its most basic version ( I only added orange zest), but the shortcrust pastry can also be flavored with vanilla, lemon zest, cinnamon, and other spices.

It’s not too sweet, and not too buttery, it’s delicate and crumbly but not too much, it has just the perfect balance.

PASTA FROLLA INGREDIENTS

You need only basic store cupboard ingredients to make this pastry: flour, sugar,  butter, eggs, and aromatics of your choice.

Check out the photo below showing all the ingredients you need!

pasta frolla ingredients: flour, butter, orange zest, 2 egg yolks, 1 egg, sugar.

FLOUR

Go for the basic all-purpose flour (plain flour/flour 00 in Italy). You can also make a mix of 50% plain flour and 50% wholewheat flour or rice flour.

For a flavoured dough, you can substitute 30 g of the amount of plain flour with a nut flour (ground nuts) of your choice (almond flour, walnut flour, hazelnut flour or pistachio flour) or with cocoa podwer.

BUTTER

The classic shortcrust pastry is prepared with butter that gives the typical buttery flavour and crumbly consistency.

Alternatively, you can use extra-virgin olive oil to make a dairy-free sweet shortcrust pastry.

It’s a bit less crumbly and gives a softer result (it works amazing for tarts and pies!).

EGGS

I use two yolks and a whole egg when making this dough.

The yolks give friability, the egg whites make the dough more compact.

You can also use just yolks if you like for a more friable result (great for cookies!).

SUGAR

You may use your favorite sugar. For a more rustic vibe, go for organic brown sugar, demerara sugar or muscovado.

If you want to achieve a very fine pastry texture, use icing sugar – but you might need to add an extra tablespoon of flour into the dough

AROMATICS

Add your favorite aromatics to this classic sweet shortcrust pastry.

Orange zest, lemon zest, a mix of the two, vanilla, a pinch of cinnamon, ginger or a mix of spices. The recommended amount is ½ teaspoon of flavouring.

Some recipes call for baking powder and entire eggs. If you want to follow the traditional recipe, I don’t recommend any of them.

For the best results you should use only 1 egg and 2 egg yolks, and no baking powder.

However, it’s totally ok if you want to add ½ teaspoon of baking powder for making the base for a pie or crust, as it gives a softer result.

HOW TO MAKE SWEET SHORTCRUST PASTRY

There are two methods to make pasta frolla, both give impeccable results.

The easiest one requires an electric whisker or stand mixer, the second can be easily done by using just your hands.

CLASSIC METHOD

This is my favourite method and the one I use most of the time.

You can use it to make any tart and pie base or to make crostata, and of course, cookies. It is easy to work with and more compact.

recipe steps 1 and 2 collage: 1 image shows butter and sugar whipped together. Second images shows the mixture after you add the eggs in.

STEP 1.

Place the butter, sugar and aromatics in a stand mixer, and whip them until creamy and foamy.

STEP 2.

Then add the eggs one at a time, until fully incorporated. Continue to mix until you reach a creamy texture.

recipe step 3 and 4 collage: first image shows the dough ball in a bowl. Second image shows the dough flatten into a disk and wrapped with cling film.

STEP 3.

Add in all the flour, and then mix everything with the hook attachment or with a spatula.

The dough is still sticky, dust it with 1 tablespoon of flour and form the dough into a ball without over-working it.

STEP 4.

Transfer the ball onto a sheet of cling film, flatten it into a disk and wrap it well. Let the dough rest in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

SANDING METHOD

This method will give you a shortcrust pastry that is not compact but, in fact, sandy. It will result in a delicate and friable dough after you bake it.

If you want to make crunchy cookies, this is the best method.

  • Make a classic fountain with the flour on a working surface.
  • Add cold cubed butter in the center, and mix it with the flour with your fingertips.
  • Then add the sugar , followed by the eggs and aromatics.
  • Knead until you get a homogeneous and non-sticky dough ball.
  • Flatten the ball into a disk, wrap it with cling film and let it rest in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

Pasta frolla rolled onto a clean lightly dusted with flour working surface.

Regardless of the method you use, once the dough has been rested for enough time, take it out from the refrigerator.

Then, lightly dust with flour a working surface and the rolling pin and roll the dough quickly.

The more you work the dough, the stickier it becomes.

BAKING PASTA FROLLA

The baking time depends on what you want to make.

Bake the frolla in a static oven at 180 °C/ 360° F, with the fan option on at 160 °C/ 320 °F.

Classic Italian crostata (jam tart), tarts and pies take about 30 to 45 minutes. 

Biscuits (cookies) and tartelettes take about 12 minutes to 15 minutes.

TIPS FOR THE BEST ITALIAN PASTRY DOUGH

italian sweet shortcrust pastry dough rolled into a disk and cut with heart-shaped cookie cutters.

  • If you use the sandy method, make sure your butter is cold. If your kitchen is warm, transfer the cubed butter in the freezer for 10 minutes to chill.
  • The less you work the dough with your hands the better, because their warmth will make the butter soften faster.
  • If the pastry is too crumbly, it means you have overworked the dough. Add a teaspoon of cold water, mix everything quickly, if necessary, with a pinch of flour and immediately place in the fridge!
  • Dust your counter and your rolling pin lightly with flour before rolling the dough.
  • Alternatively, place the dough between two sheets of baking paper, so it won’t stick to the counter or rolling pin.

HOW LONG CAN I KEEP THIS PASTRY DOUGH IN THE REFRIGERATOR?

Form a disk and wrap it with cling film, then store it in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

CAN I FREEZE SWEET PASTRY DOUGH?

Yes, of course. Place the wrapped dough in a freezer-friendly bag and store it in the freezer for up to 30 days

Whenever you need it, take it out of the freezer and let it thaw overnight in the fridge.

CAN I MAKE SHORTCRUST PASTRY IN ADVANCE?

Absolutely yes. You can store the dough disk wrapped in cling film in the fridge, or roll it out into pie or tart pan and store it in the fridge for up to 2 days.

I usually avoid filling the tart more than 2-3 hours in advance, as the base would become a bit soggy, especially if you use fruit and cream fillings.

DO I NEED TO BLIND BAKE THE BASE FIRST?

If you use watery fillings such as chopped fruit, you should blind bake shortcrust pastry first.

To blind bake top the base of the pastry with parchment paper, followed by baking beads or dried beans to weigh the crust down and bake for about 10-15 minutes.

CAN I MAKE SWEET SHORTCRUST PASTRY USING A HAND MIXER?

Yes, follow the classic method above and use the electric hand mixer instead of a stand mixer. After you add the flour, bring the dough together using a spatula.

italian pastry dough rolled into a disk being cut with heart-shaped cookie cutters.

MORE ITALIAN DESSERTS TO TRY

DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE?

Please let me know how you liked it! Leave a comment and/or a rating below, and share a picture and tag @thepetitecook on Instagram!

Reading your feedback and looking at your pictures always makes me smile *and super hungry*! 

italian sweet shortcrust pastry dough rolled into a disk and cut with heart-shaped cookie cutters.

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5 from 1 vote

This is the classic recipe for Italian sweet shortcrust pastry dough, called pasta frolla. Use it for tarts, pies, crostata and cookies!

Prep Time5 mins

Resting time1 hr

Total Time1 hr 5 mins

Course: Dessert

Cuisine: Italian

Serving: 12

Calories: 255kcal

Ingredients

  • 170 g butter
  • 120 g sugar
  • zest of 1 organic orange (or lemon zest)
  • 2 egg yolks medium
  • 1 egg medium
  • 330 g all purpose flour + 1 tbsp

Instructions

  • Place the butter, sugar and orange zest in a stand mixer, and using the whisk attachment whip them until creamy and lightly foamy, for about 3-4 minutes.

  • Add one egg yolk at a time, until each is fully incorporated, followed by the whole egg. Continue to mix until you reach a creamy texture, for about 2 minutes.

  • Add in all the flour, and then mix everything with the hook attachment or by hand with a spatula.

  • The dough will still be sticky at this point, dust it with 1 tablespoon of flour and form the dough into a ball without over-working it.

  • Transfer the ball onto a sheet of cling film, flatten it into a disk and wrap it well. Let the dough rest in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

  • Once ready, transfer the dough on a clean and lightly floured working surface. Dust the rolling pin lightly will flour and roll the dough to form a large disk.

  • Use the disk to line a tart or baking pan, or cut it with a cookie cutter for cookies.

Notes

The dough is enough to make about 30 small cookies or to line a regular 25 cm/10-inch tart tin.
Recipe tips:

  • The less you work the dough with your hands the better, because their warmth will make the butter soften faster.
  • If the pastry is too crumbly, it means you have overworked the dough. Add a teaspoon of cold water, mix everything quickly, if necessary, with a pinch of flour and immediately place in the fridge!
  • Dust your counter and your rolling pin lightly with flour before rolling the dough.
  • Alternatively, place the dough between two sheets of baking paper, so it won’t stick to the counter or rolling pin.

Storage tips:
You can store the dough wrapped in cling film in the fridge, or roll it out into pie or tart pan and store it in the fridge, for up to 2 days.
You can freeze the dough wrapped in cling film and stored in a freezer-friendly container for up to 30 days.
Baking tips:
Bake the pasta frolla in a static oven at 180 °C/ 360° F, with the fan option on at 160 °C/ 320 °F.
Crostata, tarts and pies take about 30 to 45 minutes. 
Biscuits (cookies) and tartelettes take about 12 minutes to 15 minutes.

Nutrition

Calories: 255kcal | Carbohydrates: 31g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 77mg | Sodium: 108mg | Potassium: 41mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 417IU | Calcium: 14mg | Iron: 1mg

The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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