Homemade Pasta Brisée (Pasta Matta) – No Eggs

pasta matta

É Primavera!!! It is springtime!!!I
A beautiful time to start using the fresh ingredients, which are now available.
It is time for Swiss chard, spring peas, artichokes, asparagus, lettuce, radishes, and zucchini. But
also rhubarb, strawberries, apricots, mangoes, okra, pineapples.
Today, not having anything ready for lunch, I immediately thought of making a delicious savory
pie (torta salata), so everyone was happy to eat something different than usual (You know that in
all Italian families lunch starts strictly with a pasta dish…..). 
“Torte salate” are not that extravagant with cream and eggs in the way French quiches are,
they tend to be simpler, lighter, more casual dishes; some cooked vegetables, a little ricotta
and/or a couple of eggs, a generous handful of Parmigiano or Pecorino, all enclosed in a
thin, crisp, lean pastry, called pasta matta, which literally means “crazy dough”.
Pasta matta is the Italian way for pasta brisée or shortcrust or pie dough. It is the poor family
member of richer puff pastry, but more useful in everyday cooking and often better in fact. It is
one of the easiest recipes to prepare, and this recipe does not include the use of eggs. 
Pasta matta is light, and it can be prepared easily in no time. Win-win. Extraordinarily little fat (oil,
lard, butter) is cut into the flour and then the dough is brought together with some water or a mix
of water and white wine. By the time you have gathered and prepared the other ingredients,
pasta matta has rested enough and can be rolled out in a breeze. 
The final pastry is the perfect showcase for most (generally vegetable-based) fillings; when used
in a double-faced tart/pie, the top is often brushed with a very modest amount of extra fat or egg:
this is a clever trick to amplify its taste and makes the tart even better.
An olive oil pasta matta or A lard pasta matta can also be used, depending on the result you
would like to achieve. Traditionally, for instance, the oil version was used in one of the most celebrated vegetable tarts, torta Pasqualina, from Liguria, an extravagant chard and fresh
cheese pie, traditionally made for Easter. And the lard version applies to make Erbazzone from
Reggio Emilia, a delicious chard, pancetta, onion, and parmesan pie. In this case, the lard gives
the dough a deeper flavor and crispiness that butter or olive oil alone cannot deliver.
Depending on the recipe you intend to prepare, the Pasta Brisée can be flavored with the
addition of herbs, spices, cocoa, or liqueurs. 
It can be stored in the refrigerator, wrapped in cling film, for no longer than five days.

Ingredients for Pasta Brisee (Pasta Matta)

(Ingredients for 1 tart)
– 200 g 00 flour
– 100 g cold butter cut into cubes
– 50 ml Ice water
– a pinch of salt

Instructions:

Put the flour, the cold cubed butter, a pinch of salt in the mixer, and blend everything for a few
seconds. 

Add the ice water and blend the dough again for 1 minute until it is compacted. The dough
should be soft, smooth, and pliable.
Wrap it in plastic wrap and let it rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before using it. 
Roll the dough and place over a baking mold. 
Fill with the stuffing you prefer.

Techniques

When you prepare a shortcrust, the fat and flour are “cut” into each other, rather than blended,
and the ingredients are kept cold. This ensures that the fat remains distinct in the crust, and
when it heats during baking, steam is released, resulting in a cracking crust.
If this is what you want to achieve, water is only added once the fat and flour are combined. This
ensures that the flour granules are adequately coated with fat and develop less gluten. This
may be achieved with the use of a food processor or a pastry blender. 
Overworking the dough means elongating the gluten strands (I do not mind, actually), creating a
the product that is tougher than the traditional light and crumbly Brisée dough.

Why is it called shortcrust?

“Short,” in a baking context, means that there is a high proportion of fat to flour. This is usually
just applied to non-yeast doughs, by the way; you won’t see references to a “short” brioche
dough, for instance. Usually, these short doughs are very rich, crumbly, and tender with butter.

Notes:

It can be stored in the refrigerator, wrapped in cling film, for no longer than five days. 
You can use white flour only; of course. But you can also use whole wheat flour or a mix of both.
There is an opportunity to make a gluten-free pasta brisée.
You can use only butter / only olive oil / only lard / a mix of everything.
Using some acid in pastry (lemon, vinegar, white wine): it was once thought that adding some
acid element to the pastry, would make it softer… apparently, that is not true. Try and let us
know!!!
ENJOY!

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