Pasta flora (πάστα φλώρα) is a Greek jam tart that is composed of a wonderful, crumbly shortcrust pastry and the jam of your choice. It is usually decorated with a lattice top. Pasta flora can be enjoyed any time of the day. But it makes for a delicious breakfast, to sweeten your day!
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Delicious: It’s hard to have just one slice of this tart. One bite of the shortcrust pastry and you’ll be saving yourself another piece! The dough is rich, buttery and crumbly and pairs really well with jam.
- Easy: No need to bother making a filling for this tart. You just need to make the dough and then cover it in jam. Simple! And if you’re intimidated by the lattice pattern, simply skip it. Cut out shapes of dough with a cookie cutter and just place them on top of the jam.
- No mixer: You can make everything by hand. No need to take out your mixer.
- Customizable: You can use whatever jam you like and you can put as much or as little as you want.
- Flour: To give structure to the dough. We’ll be using all-purpose flour.
- Powdered (icing) sugar: For sweetness and texture. The powdered sugar will be easier to blend into the dough than granulated sugar.
- Butter: For richness and flavor. It’s best to use unsalted butter and then add a little bit of salt yourself, for more control. This recipe works with both cold butter or softened butter. If your kitchen is very warm, I’d recommend cold butter. If on the other hand it’s very cold, you might find it easier to make the dough with slightly softened butter.
- Egg: For structure and to bind all the ingredients together.
- Baking powder: Just a little bit of baking powder to make the dough lighter and airier.
- Flavorings: I like to add a little bit of vanilla extract and salt, to enhance all the flavors. You could add citrus zest if you like.
- Jam: You can use whatever jam you like. Just make sure you like the taste of the jam before spreading it on the tart! We really loved it with sour cherry jam. As for the amount, I personally don’t like a very thick layer of jam. But feel free to add more if that’s what you enjoy.
In case you missed it, I’ve written a post where you can find lots of tips on how to make tarts. I’ll just summarize a few key points here.
How to Make Pasta Flora
Making the dough
You’ll first need to prepare the shortcrust pastry. The dough is quite easy to make. But let me quickly walk you through the process and share some tips.
- Sift the dry ingredients together: You’ll first need to combine the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in a large bowl.
- Add the butter: Start rubbing everything together. This step is called sanding (sablage). What you are essentially doing is coating the flour in butter which will shield it from the water. When you add the liquid later on (from the egg), only a portion of the flour will absorb the liquid and you’ll get a nice crumbly texture.
- Add the egg: If you’re using vanilla extract, mix it with the egg then pour it over the dough mixture. Mix just until a smooth dough forms. Don’t overmix.
What happens if you overmix the dough? Mixing the dough contributes to gluten formation. The more you mix the dough, the more elastic and rubbery it will become. It will have a tendency to shrink.
Rolling out the dough
Divide the dough. You’ll need about 2/3 of the dough to line the tart pan and the rest you can save for the lattice top. Don’t roll out all the dough at once. It will make the task harder for you and you might overwork the dough which will lead to a tougher tart (too much gluten formed).
Tip: Roll the dough out between two sheets of parchment paper. You won’t need to add any flour which could make the dough tough and rubbery.
Chilling the dough
I like to roll out the dough before chilling it so that it cools down faster. If you form a ball with the dough and chill it, you’ll have to wait much longer for it to get to the right temperature.
But if you don’t have enough space in your fridge, roll out the dough after chilling it. Flatten it into a rectangle and wrap it up well in parchment paper (or cling film). Chill for at least 30 minutes or until easy to handle.
Why chill the dough? The dough will be much easier to handle once you chill it. The butter will firm up and the dough will be less sticky.
Lining the tart pan
If you’re not sure how to do this, check out how to line a tart pan with pastry. But here are a few key points to remember:
- Make sure the dough is at the right temperature. If it’s too warm, you won’t be able to peel off the parchment paper easily and the dough will be sticky. Return it to the refrigerator. If it’s too cold, the dough will tear. Let it warm up at room temperature before proceeding.
- Make sure there are no gaps between the tart pan and the dough. Press the dough into the corners of the pan and onto the sides. If there are gaps, the dough will start to slide down during baking.
- Don’t worry if the dough tears. Just patch it up with your fingers!
- Refrigerate the tart while preheating the oven. Cover the dough with jam and decorate the top then chill the tart for 15 minutes. This will make it less likely to shrink in the oven.
Baking the tart
- Preheated oven: Make sure the oven is properly preheated before placing your tart in. If the temperature is too low, the butter will start to melt before the tart sets.
- Oven shelf: It’s best to bake tarts in the bottom third of the oven, to make sure the dough is cooked properly.
Okay, now that you have an idea of the process, let’s start baking!
Prepare the dough
- Sift together the flour, powdered sugar, baking powder and salt into a large bowl.
- Create a well in the center of the flour mixture and add the diced butter.
- Sanding: Using your fingertips or the palm of your hands, rub everything together until the mixture looks sandy. It’s okay if there are some pea-sized butter chunks. Do not combine until the dough looks homogeneous.
Tip: If your hands are very warm, you can start off with a pastry blender so you don’t melt the butter. Then finish by briefly rubbing the mixture using your palms, if needed.
- In a small bowl, mix together the egg and vanilla extract. Then pour onto the dough mixture.
- Knead with your hands (or pastry blender) just until the dough comes together. Don’t overwork the dough or it will shrink during baking.
Chill the dough
- Place the dough onto a piece of parchment paper and flatten it into a rectangle with your hands.
- Cut out about a third of the dough and save it for the lattice top. Wrap it well in parchment paper (or cling film) and refrigerate it until needed.
- Cover the remaining dough with another sheet of parchment paper and roll it out to a thickness of about 3-4mm. Chill for about 15 minutes or until you can easily peel off the parchment paper to line the tart pan. Tip: I place the rolled out dough on a baking sheet before chilling it to keep it flat.
Line the tart pan
- Grease a 23 cm (9 inch) tart pan with a removable bottom. Line the bottom with parchment paper and grease it once more. If your tart pan has a removable bottom, it’s best to place it on a small baking sheet before lining it with pastry.
- Line the tart pan with pastry. Chill the excess dough (if any). Note: I pricked the dough with a fork (pictured left, below) but it’s not really necessary.
- Adding the jam: Lightly mix the jam with a fork in a small bowl to break up any chunks and make it easier to spread. Then spoon it onto the tart and spread it evenly with the back of the spoon. Chill the tart while you prepare the lattice top.
Prepare the lattice top
Use the remaining dough to decorate the top of the tart. There are several ways to do this:
- Ropes: Divide the dough into several pieces. Roll each piece into a ball then using your palms, roll out each ball into a rope (pictured left, above). Simply place the ropes on top of the jam. Cut off the excess dough by pressing it onto the edges of the tart pan.
- Strips: Roll out the dough between two sheets of parchment paper to a thickness of 3-4 mm. Then cut out strips of equal width, about 1cm (pictured right, above). Refrigerate the strips for about 15 minutes or until easy to handle.
- Cut out shapes: Roll out the dough between two sheets of parchment paper to a thickness of 3-4 mm. Then simply cut out shapes with a cookie cutter and place onto the tart (pictured left, below).
Bake the pasta flora
- Refrigerate the tart once more (for about 15 minutes) while you preheat the oven.
- Place a shallow oven tray on the bottom third of the oven (level 2 out of 5 for example). Preheat the oven to 200°C (conventional setting).
- Brush the lattice top with egg wash (egg slightly beaten with water) or with milk. The egg will give the tart a shinier look versus a matte appearance with milk. Sprinkle with granulated sugar, if desired.
- Place on the hot oven tray and bake for about 25 minutes, or until golden. The hot tray and lower oven position will help ensure the bottom crust is properly cooked. Tip: If you accidentally spilled egg wash onto the jam and ended up with an egg layer after baking, simply use a knife to cut this part off.
- Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack. Cool down completely (in the pan) before slicing and serving. Don’t try to cut the tart while the jam is still hot.
And that’s it! Hope you enjoy it!