Pizza Rustica

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Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Serves

    6 to 8

Appears in

The Baking Bible

By Rose Levy Beranbaum

Published 2014

  • About
Oven Temperature 350°F/175°C
Baking Time 40 to 50 minutes

I enjoyed this delectable Italian sausage and cheese pie many years ago at my fellow cookbook author and longtime friend Nick Malgieri’s Christmas dinner. I had never before tasted pasta frolla and immediately adored the unusual interplay of this slightly sweet crust and the savory sausage and ricotta filling. Nick told me he makes this every Christmas—a great tradition. I like to add a little sage and thyme to the dough for extra flavor that complements the filling.

This is an exciting party recipe because it is so decorative and slices beautifully. It is very convenient because it can be made and baked a day ahead and it is best eaten warm or at room temperature. It also has an excellent texture and intensified flavor when reheated.

Ingredients

Filling

VOLUME WEIGHT
whole-milk ricotta cheese, preferably fresh cups 15 ounces 425 grams
3 large eggs ½ cup plus tablespoons (140 ml) 5.3 ounces 150 grams
fine sea salt ¼ teaspoon . 1.5 grams
black pepper, freshly ground ½ teaspoon . .
pecorino Romano cheese, grated ½ cup 1.5 ounces 42 grams
whole-milk mozzarella cheese, preferably a firmer variety . 8 ounces 227 grams
dried sausage, such as cacciatorino or sopressata (see Note) . 8 ounces 227 grams

Egg Glaze

VOLUME WEIGHT
1 large egg yolk 1 tablespoon plus ½ teaspoon (17 ml) 0.7 ounce 19 grams
milk 1 teaspoon (5 ml) . .

Special Equipment

One 9 by 2 inch round cake pan (preferably with a removable bottom), lightly coated with nonstick cooking spray | A baking stone or baking sheet (see Note) | A foil ring to protect the edges of the crust

Method

Make the Pasta Frolla

See recipe.

Chill the Dough

Empty the dough onto a large sheet of plastic wrap. Holding each end of the plastic wrap, use your knuckles to knead the dough just until the dough becomes one smooth piece.

Cut off one-third of the dough (8.4 ounces/240 grams). Shape and flatten it into a 4 by 4 by ½ inch thick square and wrap it well in plastic wrap. Flatten the remaining dough into a 6 by ¾ inch thick disc and wrap it well. Refrigerate the dough for 45 minutes, or until firm enough to roll.

The dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 3 months.

Preheat the Oven

Forty-five minutes or longer before baking, set an oven rack at the lowest level and place a baking stone or baking sheet on it. Preheat the oven to 350°F/175°C.

Roll the Dough for the Bottom Crust

Remove the larger piece of dough from the refrigerator. If necessary, let it sit for about 10 minutes, or until it is malleable enough to roll.

On a floured pastry cloth, pastry mat, or between two sheets of lightly floured plastic wrap, roll and trim the bottom crust into a ⅛ inch thick disc roughly 14 inches in diameter. Fold it gently into fourths and transfer it to the cake pan. Unfold the dough, easing it into the pan without stretching it. Allow the dough to hang over the edge of the pan. Layer the scraps on top of the refrigerated dough for the lattice crust.

Fill the Pizza Rustica

Spread 1 cup/8.1 ounces/230 grams of the ricotta mixture into the dough-lined pan. Arrange half of the mozzarella evenly on top to cover the ricotta completely. Strew half of the sausage evenly over the mozzarella. Top with another 1 cup of the ricotta mixture. Arrange the remaining mozzarella on top and strew the remaining sausage evenly over the mozzarella. Using a small offset spatula, spread the remaining ricotta mixture evenly over the sausage.

Roll the Dough and Make the Lattice

Roll the remaining dough into a 10 inch square. Cut it into ten 1 inch wide strips.

Moisten the top of the dough resting on the rim of the pan with the egg glaze. To create a woven lattice decoration, arrange half of the strips evenly over the filling, starting in the center. Gently curve back every other strip a little past the center so that the next strip can be placed at a 45 degree angle to the first strips, right at the center. Uncurve the strips so that they lie flat on top of the angled strip. Working in the same direction, curve back the strips that were not curved back the first time. Lay a second angled strip on top and uncurve the strips. Repeat with 1 more strip.

Apply the remaining 2 strips to the other side of the pie. Start toward the center and work in the opposite direction toward the edge. Remember always to alternate the strips that are curved back so that the strips weave in and out.

If desired, for an easier method of applying the strips, instead of weaving them, simply place 5 strips, ½ inch apart, in each direction (at a 45 degree angle).

Press the tops of the strips firmly into the dough where they rest against the rim. With scissors, trim the overhanging dough so that it is even with the rim of the pan and push the dough away from the rim so that it rests completely within the pan. (This makes unmolding easier.) Brush the strips well with the egg glaze.

Bake the Pizza Rustica

Set the pan directly on the baking stone. Bake for 20 minutes. Place the foil ring on top of the pie to protect the edges from overbrowning. Bake for another 20 to 30 minutes, or until the pastry is pale gold and the filling is set and slightly puffed. (An instant-read thermometer should read 165°F/74°C.)

Cool and Unmold the Pizza Rustica

Cool the pizza rustica on a wire rack for about 2 hours, or until barely warm, before unmolding it.

To unmold, place one or more folded paper towels on top of the lattice crust to be even with the rim of the pan. Cover the top of the pan with a dish towel to protect the crust’s edges. Invert the pan onto a flat plate and lift off the pan. Reinvert the pie onto a serving plate and remove the towels. (If using a pan with a removable bottom, place the pan on top of a container that is smaller than the opening of the pan’s outer rim. Slide down the sides of the pan. Slide a pancake turner between the bottom of the pizza rustica and the pan’s bottom and slide it onto a serving plate.) Serve warm or at room temperature.

Make the Filling

Place a fine-mesh strainer over a medium bowl and press the ricotta through it. Add the eggs, salt, and pepper and whisk until blended. Whisk in the grated pecorino.

Slice the mozzarella thinly and peel and cut the sausage into ¼ inch cubes.

Make the Egg Glaze

In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolk and milk. Cover tightly with plastic wrap to prevent evaporation.

Store

Room temperature, 4 hours. Airtight: refrigerated, 3 days.

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