Back in 2008, when this blog was a baby idea of sharing recipes from our life in the U.S. and Argentina, I wrote about Pasta Frola. Many of the recipes I made came from my mother-in-law, Florencia's, kitchen as I settled into life as a newlywed.
Pasta Frola is a classic not-too-sweet dessert. At my in-laws' house, it's always around, cut into small rectangles and neatly packed between layers of waxed paper in a tin; ready to be taken on the road for noshing alongside a late-day matecito, eaten for breakfast or even as a midnight snack.
While every family has their own adaptation, the classic version found in homes and bakeries in Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay has a filling made from membrillo, or quince jelly, but it can also be made with sweet potato--dulce de batata, or even with dulce de leche. Some dough recipes call for a little lemon zest, cinnamon, and Pasta Frola's famous cousin, Linzer Torte, calls for walnuts and plum or raspberry jam. Written versions of Linzer Torte date from the 1650s, and somewhere along the centuries, what with all the cross pollinations and royal intermarrying of the day, the Linzer Torte likely found its way to Italy, where it was further adapted and dubbed Pasta Frolla. The version enjoyed in Argentina today was no doubt another of the culinary treasures brought along from the old country, as immigrants settled into their new lives in a far-away land.
In my last post about the iconic pastry, I referenced the quote "La vida no es una Pasta Frola," immortalized by the artist known as Quino in his famed comic strip, Mafalda. Loosely translated, it means "Life is not a piece of cake". Truly, life is not easy for anyone--we all have our ups, our downs, and our in-betweens, where we just slog through, busy and tired. Most of the time, many of us forget to be present. We forget to enjoy life, appreciate what we have, and especially to take time to love and embrace the people around us in our families and community.
Another way of saying this comes from another quote: "Life is uncertain, eat dessert first!" With all the slings and arrows life hurls at us every day, not to mention the unexpected life-changing things we all face at some point--it's so important to just pause. Enjoy something and someone every day. Let those you love know you love them. And sit down and break bread together--share and foster culture and community. Repeat. Make something simple and homemade--like this Pasta Frola. Life may not be a piece of cake, but it certainly can be delicious!
I used almond flour alongside regular flour in this recipe. While I used Bob's Mill brand, you can easily make your own almond flour by grinding blanched almonds in a clean coffee grinder or food processor. The advantage to this would be having a lovely, coarser texture to the nuts to give it a nuttier flavor. You can also vary the type of nut to include hazelnut or walnut. If quince jelly is not available, quince paste may be used--simply slice the paste thinly and lay it in a single layer across the bottom crust.
1 cup almond flour
1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 egg yolk
about 1 1/2 cups Quince Jelly
In a medium bowl, combine the almond flour, flour, baking powder, and salt and whisk to combine. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg yolk and beat for one minute more.
On low speed, add the flour mixture in all at once and beat until combined. Divide the dough in half. Press the first half of the dough into an even layer into a 9-inch tart ring or springform pan. Press the edges up about 3/4 of an inch. Roll out the other half on a lightly floured baking sheet lined with parchment paper, into a 13-inch round. Place both in the refrigerator and chill for 30 minutes.
Spread the quince jelly evenly on the chilled dough in the tart ring. Then, using a fluted pastry wheel (if you don't have one, use a knife--you won't have the zig-zag edges, but that's ok) cut the chilled round of dough into strips about 1-inch wide. Arrange the strips across the round tart in a criss-cross (lattice) pattern. Freeze for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Bake for 40 minutes, rotating halfway through to brown the edges evenly. Let cool completely before removing the tart ring, and serve in wedges. The Pasta Frola can keep for three days covered in plastic wrap, but it probably won't last that long!