There is nothing like enjoying a sweet jam tart with a warm cup of coffee on an autumn afternoon. But before saying anything else we must let our foreign friends know who miss Pasta Flora is. Pasta flora is the Greek name for a jam tart, a misspell of the italian term Pasta Frolla. Also, Flora is a common female name in Greece. As a result, this article is dedicated to this lady, studying her origins, her relatives worldwide and some interesting styling choices of hers! Looking for inspiring ideas on Instagram, we discovered that the so-called miss Flora is a very elegant dessert that has the habit of changing looks all the time… from a rustic, everyday dress to a classic style, up to the most intricate ornaments for a festive appearance.
We have already expressed our love for mystery stories in a previous article, when we searched for the origins of the French tarte Tatin. Once again, we wanted to find out the reasons why we call our Greek jam tart Pasta Flora instead of Pasta Frolla, but to no use… Did a Greek hear from an Italian wrong the pronunciation of the name? Did the word change because of the natural evolution of the language that comes with time? Or is it simply because Frolla is difficult for us to pronounce? Or maybe there was an actual miss Flora involved? If anyone has a clue, please let us know!
The authentic pasta frolla is a basic recipe for dough prepared with flour, butter, eggs and sugar. Nowadays, we can find many variations, with plain or cake flour, whole eggs or just the yolks, oil instead of butter, a vegan version with avocado, with cocoa etc. It is a favourite in many European (Greece, Italy, Spain, Austria and others) and Latin American countries (Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and others) and it is related to the French pâte sablée as well as the British shortcrust pastry used in jam tarts.
During our research for the history of pasta frolla we read that its origins date back to the 10th century, when the Arabs brought sugar to Sicily. It was a simple dough made with eggs and flour, flavored with orange or lemon zest. In addition, there are old recipes that call for rose water, which points to its Arab roots. Another article mentions that the first written record of this preparation dates back to the 6th century. The sweet version occured in the 10th century, when Genovese confectioners added sugar coming from Syria and Egypt.
Another version of the story says that the authentic, Italian pasta frolla was invented by nuns living in the San Gregorio Armeno monastery in Naples and that it comes from another Italian dessert called crostata, a dough filled with fruit. The story has it that pasta frolla became popular when Marqués de Rubí, a Spanish official in charge of the American colonies, had an accident with his carriage. Some peasants that rushed to help him gave him a quince pie, which he adored so much that he brought it back to the Spanish court.
Pasta frolla (or as they call it pasta frola) is a beloved dessert in Latin America too. The recipe was brought to Argentina by Italian immigrants. There, it got mixed with Spanish influences and an Austrian aesthetic, as we read in an article at La Nacion newspaper. According to chef Juliana Herrera Dappe, the authentic Argentinian pasta frola has the traditional Italian dough, the Austrian decoration and the quince filling that the Spanish love. Today one can find variations with a dulce de leche filling or a coconut dough.
The Austrian dessert we mentioned above is called Linzer torte after the city of Linz in Austria. As we read at Jindrak pastry shop’s website, which claims to be home to the authentic Linzer torte, this dessert was firstly mentioned in the late 17th century, in a duchess’ book. It contains eggs, flour, almonds, sugar and spices, the latter being the main difference to pasta frolla. In our favourite book The Art of French Pastry (order online), Jacquy Pfeiffer states that, according to historians, the Austrian dessert was indeed created by chef Jindrak in 1653.
The jam tart is definitely ideal for experimenting and variations, both in flavour combinations and in decorations. This is the reason why we love it so much! So, we chose ten pretty looks, as captured through the lenses of the internet world… and if you get an appetite, our recipe comes right after!
Miss Pasta Flora…
…in an autumn mood
…stunning in pink
…wearing a statement necklace
…elegant in black
…at the Christmas table
…her history’s missing piece
…in the countryside
…and at a garden walk
Hungry yet? We sure are, so the time has come to bake a homemade, fruity jam tart… And of course to eat it first! She may not be so elegant as the ladies above (we’d rather say that she is kind of plus size) but she is delicious! We tried a recipe by the great chef Jacquy Pfeiffer from the French Pastry School in Chicago from the book The Art of French Pastry (order it online), called “Linzer tart my way”, adding our own little touches. It came out awesome, so we must share it with you!
Linzer torte by Jacquy Pfeiffer
Ingredients for our Linzer torte
|Jam (try this natural Greek fig jam)||450 gr|
(we used almonds and walnuts)
|Butter (room temp.)||90 gr|
|Caster sugar||25+50 gr|
|Plain flour (sifted)||100 gr|
|Eggs||110 gr (2+)|
|Basil for decorating|
How to make the Linzer torte
What is special with this recipe (and one of the reasons we chose it) is that the dough comes out soft, so that it is piped, not rolled out. In case we don’t have a piping bag at home, we can create one from a food packaging bag. Just cut one of its corners so that it gains a small hole. If you have a piping tip, place it inside -otherwise, the plain bag works just fine. However, a set of piping tips (get a full set) is a worthy investment to make!
Beat the softened butter with 25 gr of caster sugar, salt and vanilla, in a stand mixer at medium speed, for 3 minutes. Meanwhile, grind the nuts into a powder in a blender, along with the rest 50 gr of sugar. Add the sifted flour, cinnamon and clove and mix together.
A little secret!
For the nuts to become a powder and not a mush, we can blend them with a small quantity of caster sugar.
After creaming the butter mixture for 3 minutes, turn the mixer at low speed, add half the eggs and beat until incorporated. Then add half the solids and continue beating. As soon as they get incorporated add the rest of the eggs and the solids. Just like in tarts, be careful not to overwork the dough. If we work it too much, gluten will develop and the dough won’t be flaky and soft as we want it.
Then, fill the piping bag with the dough. A very useful advice we always follow is to place the bag in a tall container and flip its edges to the outside. That way, when we unroll the edges -what a joy!- they will be totally clean. Lay the bag on the bench and push the dough down with a spatula. Finally, lift the bag, twist its upper side to stabilise it and it is ready to use.
Oil a tart pan (no need if it’s silicone) and start piping the dough beginning from the center, in a spiral shape, to make the base of the tart. Pipe a circle at the perimeter and spread it with a spatula to cover the sides. Add the jam, pipe dough decorations on top to create the lid of the tart and sprinkle the blackberries. Bear in mind that this dough is not suitable for intricate designs as it will spread in the oven, but it is ideal for the classic grid pattern. Bake in a preheated oven at 170°C for 40 to 45 minutes.
Our Linzer torte can be stored for several days at room temperature, but once again this is useless information, as we will eat it right away! Enjoy!
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