Pizza di Crema alla Grottese

Pastry Cream-Filled Pie from Grottaminarda

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Preparation info

  • Makes

    10 to 12

    servings
    • Difficulty

      Medium

Appears in

Great Italian Desserts

By Nick Malgieri

Published 1990

  • About

My favorite Easter pastry bar none, this pizza di crema is probably Neapolitan in origin. It is the one Easter pastry I never prepare at any other time of the year — waiting for the right season always sharpens my appetite for it.

Ingredients

    Pasta Frolla

  • cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 10 tablespoons ( sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ cup milk or water

    Orange Pastry Cream

  • 2 cups milk
  • Grated zest of 2 oranges
  • cup sugar
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup Conserva di Amarene, well drained (optional)

    Egg Wash

  • 1 large egg
  • Pinch salt

Method

For the pasta frolla, mix all the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Rub the butter in finely, making sure the mixture remains cool and powdery and does not become pasty. Beat the egg and milk or water together with a fork and stir into the flour-butter mixture. Continue stirring until the dough masses together in the bowl. Turn out onto a work surface and knead lightly until smooth. Shape into a disk, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate until firm.

For the pastry cream, bring the milk, grated orange zest, and half the sugar to a boil in a saucepan. Whisk the egg yolks in a bowl, then whisk in the remaining sugar and sift the flour on top. Whisk the flour in smoothly. When the milk mixture boils, whisk one-third of it into the yolk mixture. Return the remaining milk mixture to a boil and whisk the yolk mixture into it. Continue whisking until the cream thickens and returns to a boil. Remove from the heat and whisk in the vanilla and cinnamon. Pour the pastry cream into a bowl, cover the surface directly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until cold.

To assemble, cut off one-third of the pasta frolla and reserve. Roll out the rest of the dough into a 14-inch disk and line a buttered 9-inch cake pan with it. Allow the dough to hang over the edge of the pan.

Pour in half the cold pastry cream and distribute the cherries evenly over it, then cover the cherries with the remaining pastry cream.

Roll out the reserved dough into a 10-inch square and cut it into ten 1-inch-wide strips. For the egg wash, beat the egg with the salt, and paint the strips with it. Moisten the rim of the dough on the pan with the egg wash and arrange the 10 strips in a diagonal lattice, with 5 strips in each direction, pressing the edges of the strips lightly onto the rim of the dough. Trim the edges of the dough so they are even with the top of the pan and push the dough off the top rim of the pan so that it rests completely within the pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes, until the pastry is a light gold. Cool in the pan on a rack before unmolding. To unmold, invert onto a flat plate, lift off the pan, replace the pan with another plate or platter, and then reinvert so that the pizza is right side up. Serve the pizza at room temperature. Refrigerate, covered with plastic wrap, if not serving within 2 hours. Unwrap and bring to room temperature before serving.

Variation

Omit the grated orange zest from the pastry cream and add 4 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely cut, to the cream as it comes off the heat. Allow to stand 2 minutes, for the chocolate to melt, and whisk until smooth. Stir in ¼ cup diced candied citron or orange peel.

Or prepare the orange or chocolate pizza di crema with a top crust, as in Torta di Crema di Limone, Santa Margherita.