Thursday, February 11, 2016

Midweek Roundup: "Pizza Rustica - Yay!"

Photo by Jenn
Knitty Baker

It turns out that Jenn has been yearning to bake this pie since she first got her copy of The Baking Bible.  She couldn't tell you why, because she's normally "not a big fan of things with a lot of cheese," and if there's one thing Pizza Rustica has, it's a lot of cheese.  No, she wanted to make it because it looked cool.  And it does (see above).  Luckily, though, she also liked it quite a lot, and so did the lucky person who got 1/4 of the pie and begged Jenn to please bake it again.

Tony also sounds like he'd like to bake it again--maybe tomorrow.  He thought that "every bite" was "comforting to your heart and your soul."  He described the dish as "delicate" despite the "boldness" of the sopprassata and the "rich Italian cheese custard."  He also has a very complete tutorial with plenty of pictures, so if you had doubts about making this, Tony will see you through it, step by step.

I must say that it would never occurred to me to try to make this a vegetarian dish (seeing as how one of its nicknames is "ham pie," and it's traditionally served as a last hurrah to meat before Lent).  Orin doesn't eat cheese and meat together, so she used Baby Bella mushrooms in place of the sausage.  She also made individual tarts, and plated them with a tomato "rose" with stem and leaves made with a basil-cilantro pesto.  You'd never know from looking at this beautiful plate that she had so much trouble rolling out the dough that she ended up just pressing it in the pan.

Like Orin, Vicki made her pizza rustica with mushrooms, along with artichoke hearts and fresh basil--at least half of it.  The other half, for the non-spicy meat-eaters in her house, (dinners must get complicated sometimes!) was filled with ham.  Although Vicki confessed that she was really "dragging her feet" about making this, she was glad she did.  Glad enough to promise to make it again, next time with no ham at all and with more mushrooms.  Let them eat mushrooms!

I suppose we should talk a bit about the crust, since some people had trouble rolling it out and some people, especially Catherine, did not like the sweetness of the crust one little bit.  In fact, she wouldn't have put any sugar in the crust at all except that she trusted the doofus who wrote the foreword to the book, and who insisted that sugar in a savory crust would be just fine.  Catherine ended up eating some of the pie (without the crust) and liked the filling, which she called "certainly tasty."

Rachel, faced with the "to sausage or not to sausage" question, also opted to divide the pie in half, with one half as a cheese pizza and one half sausage.  (She wisely decided that fake sausage crumbles would not be a good option for the meatless side).  She was very pleased with herself for actually weaving the lattice top herself (and this is an impressive-looking dish, isn't it?).  Although the vegetarian liked her side of the pie, the meat eaters "uniformly preferred the sopprassata side."

Despite protests from a friend that Katya was making a quiche, and not a pizza, Katya decided that "the tart's appeal isn't up for debate, as long as you are craving a solid rich hit of cheese, sausage, and flaky crust."  Katya altered the recipe only to add a few bits of leftover cheese that she routinely freezes for later use, and added a little gruyere and a little goat cheese to the cheese mixture.  "Hearty and sturdy" is Katya's description of her pizza/quicihe, and she promises that it will show up in her kitchen in other iterations.

Kim was pretty worried about how her pie was going to turn out.  The crust rolled out nicely, but it "cracked too much" and she "barely had enough dough to make the lattice."  She also didn't think she had enough ricotta filling.  And she was afraid that the whole thing would be "heavy and gummy."  Still, brave soul that she is, she made it for a dinner party and, like several others, divided it into vegetarian and non-vegetarian sides.  To her surprise, it turned out to be "not heavy at all," with plenty of filling, and the pastry was "super crunchy."

As Aimee was rolling out the pasta frolla, she liked to think about her (imaginary) Italian grandmother, who made this (imaginary) pizza rustica, and how she made all the (imaginary) grandchildren beg her to make it, but she only made it on special occasions.  And without a food processor!  A pretty story, but, luckily, Aimee doesn't have to rely on her grandmother to make pizza rustica, now that she can make it herself.  "Great warm, cool, or cold," Aimee served this on Super Bowl Sunday and was disappointed with the outcome of the game, but not with the pie.

Next week:  If you haven't done so already, read the directions and ingredient list for the Pink Pearl Lady Cake, and start planning your weekend.  This cake is not on the quick and easy list.

The following week, we're baking Mini Gateaux Breton,  French butter cookies that are made in mini brioche pans, which are not that easy to locate.  I ordered some months ago from somewhere in Asia, and they got lost in shipping.  I then ordered some silicone molds that aren't quite the right dimensions, but they'll have to do.  Good luck on your search (or your substitution).


  1. Jenn's Pizza Rustica crust was perfect!

  2. Lovely photo of a lovely-looking pie Jenn. Definitely not a doofus Marie! I should have followed my first instinct and left the sugar out. Never mind, another learning experience.

  3. Thanks Jim (and Marie) for choosing my photo. It was a really good Pizza! I will definitely make it again (and gave my friend another slice).

  4. That is one gorgeous pizza pie!
    I made the Pink Pearl Lady Cake last week, and thank goodness my daughter, acted as amateur food stylist. The gateaux were much easier. I whipped them out this morning so I could send them with said amateur food stylist on her visit to a friend at college.
    I ordered hazelnut praline and finally caved on a tart pan for the hazelnut mousse tart.