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Ligurian Easter Pie (Torta Pasqualina)



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Ligurian Easter Pie
(Torta Pasqualina)

How to Bake: Complete Guide to
Perfect Cakes, Cookies, Pies, Tarts,
Breads, Pizzas, Muffins...

by Nick Malgieri, 1995, HarperCollins

One 12-inch-diameter pie, about 12 generous servings

“This is one of the most unusual of all Italian pastries. A pan is lined with
layers of a thinly pulled dough, like strudel dough. Then a rich filling of
eggs, ricotta, and artichokes (or chard) is placed over the dough and it is
topped with more layers of dough. Traditionally, 33 layers of dough are
used, through many modern versions use only 18 or 24 layers. You may
substitute packaged phyllo dough.”

6 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup olive oil
2 cups warm water (110 degrees F)

12 medium artichokes
3/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup thinly sliced onion
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus extra to taste
1 lemon, halved
2 cups fresh breadcrumbs
3/4 cup milk
2 pounds ricotta
13 eggs
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
Black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons butter

 One 12-inch cake pan, 2 inches deep, oiled

1. To make the dough, combine the flour and salt in a mixing bowl. Com-
bine the oil and water and stir in to form a soft dough. Knead until
smooth, about 10 minutes. Divide the dough into 12 to 33 pieces and
oil each and wrap it separately in plastic wrap. Allow to rest at room
temperature for 1 hour.
2. To make the filling, trim the artichokes: with a stainless-steel knife trim
the bottoms flat, cutting away any stem. Bend back and pull off all the
green outer leaves. When you reach the thin yellow leaves at the center
of the artichokes, slice off the tops, leaving about 1 inch of the base and
leaves. Cook in boiling salted water until almost tender. Scrape away
the chokes and slice the hearts thinly. Heat 1/4 cup of the oil in a large
pan and cook the onion briefly. Add the artichokes and season with the
salt and lemon juice. Allow to cook gently for about 20 minutes. Cool.
Soak the bread crumbs in the milk, then combine with the ricotta, 5 of
the eggs, and 1/2 cup grated Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper
and stir in the artichokes.
3. Set a rack at the middle level of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.
4. Unwrap one of the dough pieces and roll it out as thinly as you can. Pull and stretch the dough into a large circle and line the prepared pan with it. Allow the excess dough to extend up over the edge of the pan. Paint with some of the remaining 1/2 cup of olive oil and repeat with half the remain-
ing dough pieces. Pour the filling over the dough in the pan. Make 8 open-
ings in the filling and place a piece of butter and break a whole egg into
each. Sprinkle each egg with some of the remaining grated cheese. Cover
the filling with the remaining layers of dough. Evenly trim any excess over-hanging dough an inch away from the edge of the pan. The excess dough
will shrink back while the torta is baking.
5. Bake for about 1 1/4 hours until the pastry is golden and the filling is set
(a knife will emerge clean from the center).
Serve the torta warm or at room temperature, as the main course
of a light meal. In Genoa, it is common to find this and other vegetable torte served as part of an assortment of antipasti. With a salad and a simple
dessert it is a perfectly satisfying lunch or supper.

Storage: Refrigerate leftovers tightly covered with plastic wrap. Before
serving, remove the plastic and reheat briefly, loosely covered with foil,
at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes, until just warmed through.


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