Pasta Frolla is one of the most basic Italian pastry doughs used for a variety of delicious desserts. A perfect base for a fresh fruit tart, in which a variety of colorful fruits are elegantly laid over a mouthwatering custard pastry cream (Crema Pasticcera), as well as the crisscrossed lattice of a Crostata di Marmellata filled with berry or apricot preserves, and even for a delicious and iconic Torta della Nonna. These are just a few examples of how to make good use of Pasta Frolla.
Pasta Frolla consists of flour, butter (a fat), sugar and eggs. It is important to work and bring the dough together swiftly so as to not allow the butter to melt. Ideally the dough should be worked and brought together in no longer than 3-4 minutes.
Let's look at it a bit closer. Since butter contains water (82% is fat and 18% is water) you want to make sure that the water does not separate from the fat when it melts, and consequently get absorbed into the flour.
Why is that a problem? Flour contains protein. The higher percentage of protein in a flour, the more gluten development is possible. Once the protein in the flour is introduced and saturated with water, it begins to develop gluten. For a pastry dough gluten development is the ENEMY. It becomes a great hindrance when the final product is supposed to be a soft, expandable dough. For better understanding, gluten strands are kind of like rubber bands that don't allow the dough to be stretched easily.
This is the reason as to why we choose to use 2 egg yolks and only one whole egg. Again, egg whites consist mostly of water and protein. The water in the egg white will develop gluten when absorbed in the protein of the flower. This is what we are trying to avoid. Egg yolks on the other hand consist mostly of fat.
So the best choice of flour is one that is poor or low in protein content. The higher the protein content in the flour, the more gluten will be developed once water is introduced. So, for pasta frolla GLUTEN development is the enemy and must be avoided. For bread, gluten development is important in order to form an elastic dough, one that will be able to hold the gas development inside as it ferments and rises.
Mixer or even better a clean work surface and hands
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