Thursday, 20 June 2013

Argentina: Tortas Fritas (Lard Pastries)

Lard has been used for centuries in pastries and breads, to add moisture and flavour during baking. And in Argentina, they use it to make tortas fritas

As no stranger to lardy pastries, I was excited to try these, made by our friend Mica when we visited Buenos Aires. Lard is basically mixed with flour to create a soft, springy dough which is kneaded before pieces are ripped off, flattened and then scored in the centre. They're then deep-fried (as if that much lard wasn't enough) until golden and crisp. You serve them sprinkled with sugar, and eaten while still warm. 


mica tortas fritas hot and covered in sugar
Tortas Fritas, hot and crispy and dredged in sugar...

You can buy tortas fritas in the panaderĂ­a too, where they're stacked in baskets amongst trays of medialunas (croissants) and facturas (buns and croissant-type pastries filled with dulce de leche or membrillo). They're surprisingly light and don't really taste greasy at all - well not as much as you'd think with all that lard in there, and can be eaten as a breakfast with coffee or as a snack. 



mica tortas fritas kneading dough
Mica, making the dough for tortas fritas

I imagine too, it started life just as our Lardy Cake did - as an economical way to use up the fat from the animal when butter wasn't always available. I asked Mica for the quantities of lard and flour she was using and she told me she would keep adding the lard until it 'feels' right. The dough should be springy and moist before shaping and frying. As they're fried, they puff up a little - that's what turns them flaky and crisp. Gorgeous.


Do you ever use lard to make pastries? Which lardy pastries have you tried and like?