April 22, 2008

Pasta Frola-Shortbread with Quince Jelly Filling


"La Vida No Es una Pasta Frola"

Alba Lampon, Contemporary Argentinean Sociologist

If there was ever a quote to sum up the Argentinean perspective, this would be it.  Loosely translated, it means "Life is not a piece of cake."   I think anyone would agree with that statement-it’s what we do with it that matters.

Americans, eternal optimists as we are, grow up being taught that even when things are looking dismal, we should put our best face forward and act as if nothing is wrong.  We’ve all heard:  everything happens for a reason, there’s a silver lining, life’s a bowl of cherries…we keep smiling through the hard times, even with clenched  teeth.  The upside to this attitude-we believe in the possibility of our dreams, and that anything can happen.  In many instances this is true!

Argentineans, in contrast, tend to see the wine glass as half empty-life has socked them many hardships, and they’ve lived to tell about it.  This makes many Argentineans expert complainers-politics, the economy, money (the lack of it) the job market-Argentina is ripe fodder for a pessimist.  To say it another way, they are realists.  They don’t expect things to be perfect, because that’s just not the way life is.  It’s hard, and that’s no secret.


On that note, Argentineans are also experts at enjoying life.  They eat long lunches drinking wine and savoring their food, they take even longer naps, and surround themselves with family and friends.  Argentineans slow down, they take it all in.  No sense of urgency to get things done or  to accomplish a task,  as there is here  in the US.  "It" gets done when it gets done, and other things (like the aforementioned meals, naps and family) take priority.

One of the things that makes life worth living for an Argentinean is food.  Delicious, soul-satisfying food, eaten while taking a nice long while to taste it.  I say this from the viewpoint of someone who will admit to having scarfed down food purchased at a drive thru window while driving maniacally to get something done.  Life may not be a pasta frola, so with all the arrows it shoots our way, isn’t it better to slow down and enjoy?!


                                                Receta por Pasta Frola (de Florencia)

                                             Recipe for Pasta Frola (from Florencia)

Pasta Frola is, like many classic Argentinean recipes, Italian in origin.  In Italy, the short-bread like dough (pasta frolla) is used in a variety of cakes and cookies; in Argentina it refers specifically to a cake with this crust, filled with quince jam or quince paste.  (It can also be made using sweet-potato jam or your jam of choice.)  Pasta Frola can be found in upscale bakeries and in everyone’s mother’s kitchen.  It’s universal, and part of it’s beauty is its absolute simplicity.  It’s easy and fast, made with ingredients on hand at any time.  Pardon the pun, but it’s a piece of cake to make.  (This one is my mother-in-law’s recipe.)

1 cup flour

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 stick butter, softened

1 egg

2-3 tablespoons of milk

quince paste or quince jam (or the jam of your choice)

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Butter and flour your pan-this recipe makes enough for a small square or rectangular pan, though the photos show small ramekins, which is also fine. 

Mix together the flour, sugar, baking soda and baking powder.  Cut the butter in, mixing between your fingers to incorporate the flour mixture and the butter.  Keep mixing until it’s uniform and resembles coarse sand.

Add the egg and 2 tablespoons of the milk and mix together until you get a ball of dough that is uniform.  It should not be too dry (crumbling apart) and should not be sticky.

Roll out the dough onto a floured surface. The dough should be about half an inch think.  Cut the dough and put it in to the pan.  It should cover the bottom and go up on the sides only a little bit.  Pat the dough down around the edges with the back of your fingers. 

Take a few spoonfuls of quince jam and spread it over the dough in the pan.  I have found that it’s easier to mash the jam in a bowl with a fork so that it’s easier to spread.  Also, if using quince paste, you may need to add some warm water to soften the paste texture. 

Roll out the dough scraps and cut into strips with a pastry cutter or knife.  Lay across the top of the jam and dough in a lattice (criss-cross) pattern.

Pop into the oven for a very short time-only about 20 minutes.  It should be slightly browned on the top. 

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8 Responses to “Pasta Frola-Shortbread with Quince Jelly Filling”

  1. Que rico! I have never thought of sweet potato jelly…how on earth do I make it?!? I loved Argentine desserts…delicious and rich. I am sure this would be oh so tasty!

  2. I prefer the argentinian way of looking at life. Perfectionism can be the root of all evil. When you see how “driven” Americans are, so driven that they can’t sit down and actually enjoy lunch without a cellphone in hand, you can see how that “fight to the top” mentality plagues the spirit… But I think that you cake could revive the worst of all Americans!!

  3. great blog!I’m happy that you love our kitchen 😉

  4. Gretchen-do they have dulce de batata in Peru? It’s like dulce de membrillo-more like a paste than a jam. Just add some water to make it more pliable and use it inplace of the quince jam! Good luck-let me know how it turns out!
    Amanda-I’m a recovering ‘list maker’-and I have to work at making myself slow down. I’m so lucky to have an example of how to enjoy life! It’s sad that we have a culture so focused on multitasking-you’re right-there’s almost no down time. Glad you enjoyed the recipe-it’s perfect for an afternoon coffee break!
    Gertru-Gracias! Has visto mi ‘post’ con video sobre mate? Es uno de los ‘posts’ viejos, pero el video tambien se esncuentra en You Tube. Como andas alli en BsAs con todo el humo?

  5. Thanks so much for giving a recipe for pasta frola, which I adore. Luckily, I am about to leave for Buenos Aires, where I will be able to eat my fill of it.

  6. I’ve had both quince paste and quince jam in my pantry for ages, and haven’t found quite what to do with them. I’ll definitely try this one; these little tarts look lovely!

  7. I was really happy to see this post, as I’ve got a huge container of quince jam from Portugal that I’ve been wondering what to do with. These look so delicious1

  8. I know, is an old post. But I can´t drop here without let a comment.I born in a optimist country,as in a old movie (gone with the wind) In Brazil, actually Sao Paulo, my place, people usually said, if anything goes wrong, Tomorrow is another day..and better for sure.And was a shock for me saw how the people here are down,but for otherwise they know enjoy life. As you said enjoying long lunches and drinking. You write and explains very well the Argentine life. I can´t do this as well you do. I wish I could. I always stop here to read a little bit and always is a nice reading

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