Our traditional Easter Pie, Torta, comes from the Basilicata region of Italy. Pronounced “Cutzzall”, in dialect, I believe that this is Italian ‘Calzone’. Our Easter Pie is consistent with the shape of calzone, large flat turnovers. In English, calzone means ‘little pants’ or diapers. Both resemble a diaper’s similar half moon shape. Ecco! The meaning of the name of my family’s Easter Pie!
In true Italian tradition—to make one for our family would not fulfill our tradition of eating and gifting these pies. As a result, this recipe produces 12 large or 24 medium size pies for eating and for gift giving. Bon Appetito!
Although Love & Garlic opts to use a brioche dough recipe for Easter Pie, I have included the original recipe:
5# pounds flour
1 cup melted shortening
1 ½ packages yeast
3 eggs lightly beaten
4 cups ham broth* or water
1 Tablespoon salt if water is used instead of ham broth
*The broth will come from the ham that is boiled for the pie. If substitute with ham that is not ‘on the bone’, use water and salt.
Place the flour in a large mixing bow. Proof the yeast. Form a well in the flour. Add the eggs, the yeast, the ham broth (or water and salt) and the seasoning. Knead the dough until it is smooth shiny. Reserve. Cover with a damp cloth. The dough should rise to the rim of the bowl or expand double in volume.
7 cups flour
2 ½ teaspoons salt
2 ½ teaspoons sugar
2 ½ teaspoons yeast
¾ pound butter
¾ cup water
Melt the butter. Proof the yeast. Place the ingredients in a large food processor with the blade attachment. Mix thoroughly until the ingredients form a ball. Reserve the dough in a plastic bag.
Roll the dough within one hour. Do not allow this dough to double in size.
5 pounds Jack or Toma cheese*
4 pounds whole milk or skim milk ricotta
3 pounds smoked picnic ham ‘on the bone’
1 ½ pounds Italian sausage w/sweet red pepper and fennel or wild anise
10-16 hard boiled eggs (Original recipe calls for 16-reduce for health reasons)
1 bunch flat leaf parsley
¾ cup ham broth
Salt and white pepper to taste (omit the salt if using ham broth)
9 eggs, lightly beaten
3 eggs lightly beaten with 1 teaspoon water for glaze
*Toma is a goat’s milk cheese similar to jack in consistency
1. Simmer the ham in enough water to cover. Cool. Reserve broth.
2. Cut the jack cheese and ham in ¼ in by 1 inch slices.
3. Bake the sausage in a preheated 375 degree oven for 35-45 minutes. Cool and slice into ¼ inch slices. Reserve.
4. Wash and pick the leaves off of the parsley. Chop. Reserve.
5. Boil the eggs. Cool, Peel. Slice into ¼ inch slices. Reserve.
6. Select a tub or large square or rectangle pan. Layer the ingredients making sure that you spread them evenly. Start with the cheese and continue, layer by layer, with the ham, ricotta, sausage, hard boiled eggs and parsley. Season with salt (if not using ham broth) and white pepper.
7. Add the ham broth to the lightly beaten eggs. Pour evenly over the layered ingredients. Hand mix in sections so the ingredients are evenly distributed. Reserve the mix in the refrigerator while rolling the dough.
8. Cut the dough into balls approximately 6-8 ounces. Roll into 12 -18” circle 1/16th inch thickness. Place 1-2 cups of the filling (depending on the size of the round of dough) on ½ of the round. Distribute the filling until it is ½ inch thick. Leave 1 inch edge of dough around the circumference of the filled side. Fold the flap over the filling forming a turnover. Crimp the edges as you would a pie. Bake at 375 degrees for 35 – 45 minutes. Brush with the egg glaze. Cool on a rack.
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