Pasta Frolla: Italian Sweet Shortcrust Pastry

Pasta Frolla is the Italian version of sweet shortcrust pastry, which is a staple Italian pastry dough made simply with flour, butter, eggs, and sugar. This versatile dough can be used to make a variety of delicious baked goods, such as tarts, cookies, tartlets, and more. It has a lovely crumbly, buttery texture that is great with either fruit or cream fillings.

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A disc of pastry dough with egg shells in the back ground.

Pasta Frolla is a classic Italian pastry dough that's incredibly versatile and delicious. This dough is like a blank canvas for baking, as you can create all sorts of treats with it, from fruity tarts like this Blueberry Peach Crostata, to classic Italian ricotta pie, to simple cutout cookies and more!

My family is very into making pies, like traditional apple pie, and we use several different types of pastry dough in our recipes. My grandma's old fashion Crisco pie crust is the go-to, but for more authentic recipes, like ricotta pie, we use pasta frolla.

Whether you want to make a traditional fruit pie or cute little jam-filled pastries, this classic Pasta Frolla is your go-to dough for making delicious homemade Italian baked goods that taste like a piece of Italy on a plate.

Why this recipe works

  • You only need a few simple staple ingredients to make this pasta frolla recipe.
  • You can easily freeze it or make it ahead of time for the holiday baking.
  •  You can customize the flavor as you prefer, by swapping out the vanilla extract for almond extract, lemon zest, or orange zest.
  • Keeping the ingredients cold at all times ensures a perfect consistency to roll out the dough without breaking it.
  • You can use this basic recipe for many Italian desserts like pies (especially Italian ricotta pie) and crostata, with all kinds of fillings.
Ingredients for pasta frolla shortcrust pastry dough.

Ingredient Notes

  • Flour - All-purpose flour is the best option for this recipe.
  • Sugar - Use regular granulated sugar for the best result. It's necessary to give the right amount of sweetness to the short pastry dough.
  • Salt - Adding a pinch of salt will balance out the sweetness of the sugar in the pastry dough.
  • Butter - Use cold unsalted butter if you want to control the amount of salt you add to the dough. Alternatively, you can use salted butter and skip the addition of extra salt.
  • Egg - The egg acts like a binder to the dough and it's one of the differences between classic shortcrust pastry and the Italian sweet pastry dough.
  • Vanilla - A bit of vanilla extract will give a nice flavor to the sweet short pastry dough. You can also use fresh vanilla seeds in place of the extract. If you'd like, you can also substitute the vanilla for lemon or orange zest to give a different flavor to your pies and cookies.

*Full ingredient list with quantities is in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.

Helpful Equipment

  • Food Processor - The easiest way to make Pasta Frolla dough is with a food processor. Just be sure to pulse so you don't over-mix. 
  • Work Surface - The best work surface would be a marble, granite or wooden table or counter. If you don't have it, you can also use a large smooth wooden cutting board.
  • Bench Scraper - A bench scraper is a useful tool to help transfer the dough off of the counter and into the pie tin or pie dish.
  • Rolling Pin - You'll need a nice rolling pin to roll this Pasta Frolla! I prefer my French rolling pin with no handles because it's lightweight and gives you more control when rolling out the dough. 

Step by step instructions

A food processor with flour, sugar and cubes of butter.
Pouring vanilla into a food processor with flour and an egg.
  1. Combine flour, sugar, salt, and cold butter in a food processor. Pulse until the butter is broken down into pea-sized bits.
  2. Add egg, vanilla zest, and water.
A hand squeezing a bit of dough together over a food processor.
Hands kneading a ball of pastry dough with a bench scraper.
  1. Pulse 5-6 times until it's the texture of coarse sand and sticks together when pressed. Add more water if needed.
  2. Move it to a surface and gently knead until a ball just forms. Avoid over-kneading to prevent toughness.
Two discs of pasta frolla shortcrust pastry dough.
Rolling out pastry dough with a French rolling pin.
  1. Divide into two, shape into discs, wrap tightly in plastic, then chill for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 days.
  2. When ready, take it from the fridge, sprinkle a bit of flour on a surface, and place the unwrapped dough there. Dust a rolling pin with flour and roll it out as desired.

Tips for success

  • Make sure to keep all of your ingredients cold while mixing them. If they start to get warmer, briefly place them in the freezer or refrigerator until cooled again.
  • The amount of water needed will always vary, based on humidity. Always start with less and add more, a little bit at a time.
  • A food processor works well to make the dough quicker. Use quick pulses and be careful to not overwork it, or it could cause a tough crust.
  • To keep the dough cold, run your hands under cold water and/or hold onto some ice cubes before mixing or shaping it.
Close up of pasta frill pastry dough with flour sprinkled on top.

Serving Suggestions

Now that you've mastered this basic sweet shortcrust pastry dough, you're ready to shape it and fill it to make all kinds of delicious treats. Here are some examples:

  • Crostata: Crostata is the Italian version of pie, which is traditionally made with a Pasta Frolla crust. Roll the dough and transfer it to a pie dish or pie tin. Fill it with jams, custards like this old-fashion custard, or berries, like blueberries, before baking. Italian Crostate are usually open-faced.
  • Fresh Fruit Crostata: If instead, you want to fill the crostata with fresh custard and fresh fruit, you need to first blind-bake the Pasta Frolla, by covering it with parchment paper and weigh it down with dried beans or ceramic pie weights, and let it cool before filling it. Glaze it with a layer of clear gelatin for the traditional Italian look.
  • Tartellettes: These are basically miniature pies, filled with all kinds of creams, custards, jams, or fruits.
  • Cookies: Roll the dough and cut it with cookie cutters to make simple shortcrust cookies. Decorate them with melted dark chocolate, coarse sugar or cinnamon sugar!
A disc of Italian shortcrust pastry dough on a marble board.

FAQ

Why is my dough crumbly and doesn't stick together?

The dough is too dry. Add 1 or 2 tablespoons of water to the dough and knead again. If still crumbly, you can add half egg white.

Why is the dough really soft and sticks to the work surface?

This happens when the warmth of your hands and the environment start melting the butter. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let it cool in the fridge for 30 minutes or in the freezer for 10 minutes before working it again.

Did you LOVE this recipe? Please leave a star ⭐️ rating and comment to let other readers know! I absolutely love hearing from you and do my best to answer all questions and comments. I love seeing your creations so please tag me on Instagram @ColeyCooks!

A disc of pasta frolla dough dusted with flour on top and egg shells in the background.
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Pasta Frolla: Italian Sweet Shortcrust Pastry

Pasta Frolla, is the Italian version of sweet shortcrust pastry, and it is a staple Italian pastry dough made simply with flour, butter, eggs, and sugar. This versatile dough can be used to make a variety of delicious goods, such as tarts, cookies, tartlets, and more. It has a lovely crumbly buttery texture that accompanies fruits or creams' fillings.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 1 double crust pie or 2 single crust pies
Calories: 2802kcal

Ingredients

  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 12 tablespoons 1 ½ sticks unsalted butter cold, cut into cubes
  • 1 large egg room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • cup ice water plus more as needed

Instructions

  1. Add the flour, sugar, salt and cold butter to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse several times until the butter is broken up into bits the size of peas.
  2. Add the egg, vanilla zest and water, then pulse 5-6 more times until the mixture comes together and resembles coarse sand and holds together when pressed with your fingers. Add more water 1 tablespoon at a time if needed.
  3. Transfer to a work surface and use your hands to gently knead a few times until it forms a ball. Be careful not to over work the dough or it will become tough.
  4. Split the dough into two pieces, form into a disc and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 days. Freeze for up to 3 months for longer storage.
  5. When ready to use, remove from the refrigerator, then dust a work surface with a little bit of flour. Place the unwrapped dough on the work surface, then dust it with a little more flour.
  6. Dust a rolling pin with flour, then roll it out to slightly larger than your pie

Notes

  • This recipe makes two pastry crusts to each fit a 9-inch pie plate. It can be used to make two single-crust pies or one double-crust pie.
  • I keep my pasta frolla very simple so it can be used with a wide variety of fillings, but you can alter the flavor however you like by swapping out the vanilla extract for almond extract, lemon zest or orange zest.
  • Be sure to keep all ingredients cold at all times for best results.
  • The amount of water needed to form the pie dough will always vary based on humidity. Always start with less and add more a little bit at a time.
  • I like to run my hands under cold water and/or hold on to some ice cubes prior to kneading the dough to ensure it doesn't get warm.

Nutrition

Calories: 2802kcal | Carbohydrates: 339g | Protein: 39g | Fat: 144g | Saturated Fat: 88g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 7g | Monounsaturated Fat: 37g | Trans Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 525mg | Sodium: 1255mg | Potassium: 444mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 101g | Vitamin A: 4436IU | Calcium: 116mg | Iron: 15mg

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